Editor’s note – Forget what you know about British food. This Sunday at 9pm ET “Searching for Italy,” Stanley Tucci discovers how Italian immigration has changed the food scene in his adopted hometown of London.
(CNN) – Like many Italians living abroad, Pepe Corsaro missed his mother’s cooking.
Born in Sicily, he moved to London when he was 16 years old and soon craved for the flavors and traditions of his home – especially the roaring Sunday lunch, when mothers and grandmothers cooked timeless favorites for the marathon feast in the open air that could easily be snatched. In the evening hours.
After he made a career in the restaurant business, Corsaro was enjoying a night out with friends when someone jokingly suggested that he bring his mother to cook.
He took it seriously.
“I told myself, why not? So I called my mom and I asked her. She said: ‘I’ll come tomorrow.'”
Mamma Emilia makes pasta. Each mama works in a restaurant for about three months.
The figures are simple: real Italian mothers and grandmothers are recruited from one of the 20 regions of Italy.
They then travel to London for a three-month residency, showcasing their own traditional dishes based on their local cuisine, and before handing over the chef’s hat to Mama’s new brigade from a different region.
It’s an interesting setup, as food in Italy varies wildly depending on geography.
La Mia Mamma recruits real Italian mothers and grandmothers for accommodation in its London restaurants.
While many of the foods commonly associated with Italian cuisine – lasagne, tortellini, prosciutto crudo, ragù, parmigiana – all come from the same region, Emilia Romagna, there are many varieties and hidden gems to be found elsewhere, often in places that Which would be unsuitable for most tourists.
At the time of writing, La Mia Mamma is focusing on Campania and Lazio, two adjacent territories in southwestern Italy, hosting Naples and Rome, respectively.
Selection of dishes from Abruzzo, relatively underrepresented food from the south-eastern region of the Adriatic coast.
With classics like Carbonara, Ametriciana and Casio e Pepe, a deceptively simple pasta dish made up of just four ingredients, Lazio’s cuisine has been the talk of the town in recent years, making it one of the most difficult to make due to its delicate process.
But the region also includes lesser-known dishes, such as “Cusina Popolar” or the comfort food Coda Alla Vaccinara, an oxtail stew that is not easy to find outside of Lazio.
Each restaurant has three mama’s, which are first screened in Italy via social media.
“We are not looking for professional chefs, but housewives who cook for their families,” says Corsaro, adding that selected candidates are then taken to London for trial, followed by accommodation, transport cards and salaries. , Comparable with sauce chef.
Most mama, who are usually in their sixties and often retire, have never lived abroad before.
They all bring their own recipes and with the help of experienced kitchen staff work to ensure they come to perfection.
Three months stay
View of one of the restaurants. Both are located in Chelsea, London.
Their presence is not limited to the menu; The kitchen is visible from the street, so passers-by can see a glimpse of Mama at work, and they are happy to mingle with supporters.
“You see them everywhere. They’re always around, making people try whatever they’re cooking. They’ll even dance with the guests,” says Corsaro.
So far no one was able to send in the perfect solution, which is not strange.
Corsaro with his mother Anna Fama, left, the original ‘Mamma’ and Mamma Sara.
La Mia Mamma
“They always tell me that the city is too big, they don’t have the habit of staying on the road for an hour to get somewhere, so we have to find them a place to stay near the restaurant,” says Anna Fama, Corsaro’s mother. Original Mama.
After her tenure, she decided to stay, and now she acts as an ambassador for incoming mothers, helping them settle down.
Fama says, “It never happened that Mama said goodbye happily, and those who have gone ask me when they can come back,” says Fama, although cooking for 200 people can be overwhelming, in the kitchen. There is always a comfortable atmosphere. .
“If something goes wrong, we can always fix it,” she says. “For me, this is not a job, this is my home. I hope I pass it on to Mama.”