Host Interview: Anna Maria

Land, mountains and water

Lentate Verbano area is a small town located at the southern tip of Lake Maggiore. Cesarina Anna Maria was born and raised here in her countryside home, surrounded by woods, fields, hills and mountains. Anna Maria’s welcoming home always leaves her guests with fond memories.

Food has always been at the heart of her family life. "It’s just simple cooking. We use good, healthy ingredients and nothing ever goes to waste." Like many Italians, Anna Maria’s passion for cooking came from watching and copying her mother and grandmother in the kitchen. She loves cooking for friends, sitting around the table enjoying the hearty homemade dishes of Lombardian cuisine.

Pleased to meet you! Tell us a little about yourself…

My name’s Anna Maria. I work in Milano, but my heart lives in a little town called Lentate Verbano. My home is surrounded by the peaceful green countryside, but it’s actually just an hour’s drive from one of Europe’s most dynamic cities, Milano! The region of Lombardia is so varied; we have lakes, mountains, fields… It’s less touristy than many other regions, but there’s so much to discover.

We're glad you did! Who taught you to cook?

My mamma taught me how to cook, and my nonna taught me how to taste.

Christmas time always brings back happy memories of my mamma in the kitchen preparing the turkey for our family dinner. She made turkey “alla lombarda”, our region’s variation, an epic feat! Or at Easter time, when she was making our traditional layered Easter cake… She somehow always managed to leave circles of pastry all over the house!

Why is it so important for travellers to experience the real regional traditions when they visit Italy?

I think it’s really interesting to explore the links between our regional cuisines and how they influence each other; it’s an interesting way for tourists to get an understanding of the real Italy as a nation.

When I read about Cesarine in a food magazine, it just struck me as such a fantastic initiative. I was so taken by the idea that I kept the magazine, and then one day I decided to apply to become a Cesarina myself!

It sounds like Winter might be your favourite season for cooking, then!

You've got it! I love winter, it makes me think of home. An open fire to warm you up, and magical stories and traditions in the kitchen. Although my favourite dish ever is one you can enjoy all year round. I know it’s not an exciting dish… But I could honestly eat spaghetti with tomato and basil sauce every day and never get bored!

You can't go wrong with pasta al pomodoro. Ok, last question: what's your favourite possession in the kitchen?

I have a little plastic spatula from the 1960s that used to belong to my mamma. It’s from back in the days when plastic was the new thing. She used it all the time, so it’s totally worn down, but I like keeping it with my other kitchen tools. It just makes me think of her when I see it.

Grazie, Anna Maria!

Will you be heading to Lake Maggiore anytime soon? Anna Maria would love to have you over for dinner. Click to find out how! 

Discover Lombardy's cuisine with Anna Maria!

Learning to cook with expert locals like Anna Maria is a fantastic way to experience the real Italy on your travels.

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