The emphasis for this meal was on sharing plates that incorporate only the freshest seasonal ingredients. With the help of Kirthanaa, I created a classic Italian feast that comprised of focaccia accompanied by anchovies and lemon, a selection of Italian cold cuts, burrata cheese paired with blood orange and purple basil, and sardines complemented by lemon zest and olive oil. I also made a radicchio salad, a fennel and olive salad, and asparagus, spring peas and watercress served with tonnato sauce. These are all light and colourful, so they not only look great placed together but are also easy to pick at as the day goes on. According to Kirthanaa, this feast style of food allows you to save time on preparation: “What I adore about Italian cuisine is that I can create large platters of food that are not only impressive but also easy to prepare ahead of hosting. This menu is just the thing for a group lunch that won’t weigh you down!” As much as I love hosting, I’m sure I’m not alone in finding myself running around in the days leading up to the occasion.
Whilst the three of us lead busy lives and want to save time where we can, Lily noted that older generations in Italy enjoy the process and time taken to prepare a meal for their family or friends. “My grandmother’s generation really took great care and time over what they were preparing,” she explained. “I always remember reading a book at school called Like Water For Chocolate about how when you cook with love, something magical happens—and it has always made me think of Italians, and in particular, my family.” Our relationship with this type of food is intrinsically linked to our memories. Our taste is powerful and nostalgic, so when we cook for our loved ones, we are automatically cooking with love. This is a sentiment that will stay with me. Thanks for the pertinent reminder, Lily!
Top tip: It will come as no surprise that the best Italian dishes are made with authentic Italian ingredients. If you’re not heading there anytime soon (Lily confessed that she always brings an extra suitcase to Italy for Mulino Bianco biscuits and cakes and a local Puglian cheese called Cacioricotta), then head to your nearest Italian deli.