As every cook knows, food is more than simply sustenance.
A family dinner combines memories of the past and hopes for the future in equal parts – a recipe that local foodsmith Camille Orrichio Loccisano knows very well.
Loccisano, who hails from a family deeply steeped in culinary traditions, has just come out with her first cookbook, Foodships: Living Life…One Recipe at a Time (Mitchell Woodiwiss Publishing).
Emphasizing the subliminal connection between food and family, the book takes as its basis the traditional recipes of Loccisano’s extended clan as well as her own, interweaving the recipes with reminiscences for a rich mélange that feeds the soul as well as the belly.
Not surprisingly, many of the recipes are Italian, including a host of pasta dishes — from the traditional (Spaghetti Bolognese) to the unconventional (Gnocchi with Maple Gorgonzola Sauce).
You will also find such Italian standbys as Eggplant Parmigiana (courtesy of Loccisano’s Grandmother Carmela) and Chicken Francese (Loccisano’s late son Frankie’s favorite dish), as well as dishes that she learned from numerous friends and acquaintances, from Jenny’s Guacamole to Julian and Adrian’s Moroccan Fish Balls, many accompanied by Loccisano’s reminiscences that place the recipes squarely in her personal history.
A former restaurant owner and caterer, Loccisano came naturally to the task of cookbook-writing.
However, her journey from cook to author was rather more complicated. Loccisano recalled that after Frankie died of cancer at the age of 17, “I just couldn’t go back into the kitchen. I made myself. I cooked Frankie’s favorite meal and I was able to remember my son through the food this was a small part of who he was.
‘I could share in his life and who he was through food,” she continued. “Food was such an incredible tool for me in the process of healing; food is involved in everything in life.”
And, thus was born the concept for Foodships, which, said Loccisano, “is about how food is involved in everything and how people can create their own Foodships.”
Nonetheless, the book, which made it to the pages of Food Network Magazine’s holiday issue, is just a starting point for Loccisano, who told this paper, “I hope this will be the first of many cookbooks where I can display my food knowledge in a lot of original recipes and a lot of traditional recipes.”
Loccisano also hopes to demystify the culinary art for those who may be wary of letting themselves loose in the kitchen. “People can make people feel encouraged to get in there and cook,” she stressed. “Don’t be afraid; just get in there and cook, and do with family and friends.”
Foodships is available at local bookstores, and on Amazon.
Additional reporting contributed by Meaghan McGoldrick.