“Cucina Povera” means poor kitchen. My mother grew up on a farm during the Great Depression. Money was scarce and they had a large garden and made everything from scratch and canned vegetables and fruits to feed their large family. It was a hard life.
My mother recounted a story about she and her father driving in a blizzard when she was 16 years old. The drifts of snow across the road caused their car to slide into a ditch. They walked to a neighboring farm in the blowing snow and frigid temperature for help. When they arrived, they realized that their family’s war ration books had been left in the car. Without them, they couldn’t get any food as they were only allowed a certain amount per person. My mother walked back to the car in the cold blowing snow and deep drifts to get them.
We live in a world where money doesn’t go very far. The recipes my mother made fed us well. We ate healthy foods on a shoestring budget. If you make a couple of my budget-friendly recipes each week, you can lower your food bill and make your money go a little further while enjoying some wonderful meals.
I was always amazed at how far my mother could stretch a dollar. I came from a family of 3 children; me and my two older brothers, Vince and Rossi. We ate pasta dishes 4 times a week but always had steak for dinner with mashed potatoes and a vegetable on Saturday. Being Catholic, we had fish on Friday. We always had salads. My mother always dressed the salad with olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper in just the right proportions with no “recipe.” It was delicious!
There are many recipes “out there” but my family’s Sicilian recipes are authentic and unique. Italian and Sicilian are not the same. When I share my main dishes or desserts with my friends, they are always amazed at the delicious foods they have never had anywhere else. They truly are unique to the area in Sicily from which my parents came to America.
With a cup of flour, a little salt, a couple of eggs, and home-made sauce, I can make an incredibly delicious dinner of home-made pasta. With another cup of flour, eggs, sugar, and milk, I can make a special dessert fit for the holidays like these Cream Puffs with Sicilian Cream!
“Cucina Povera” means poor kitchen, but the dishes my mother, her mother before her, and now me, prepare are anything but “poor”. They are simply money-saving/budget friendly recipes that feed a large family!