Tutti a tavola a mangiare! 

Ina, Christina, Rory and Mary Ann

Let me start by saying I don’t even boil water. I can, of course, but I don’t. Except to make tea. But I do love watching cooking shows. I guess it’s the same as DYI home shows, I don’t plan on renovating any time soon, or house hunting, yet I enjoy these shows, too. I find them relaxing. There’s not much thinking involved. Although I guess if you’re following the recipes, there is thinking. But since I’m not following the recipes, I don’t have to think.

Right now I have four favorite tv cooks/chefs – Ina Garten, Christina Pirello, Rory O’connell and Mary Ann Esposito.

Ina has her regular cooking show, Barefoot Contessa and her Be My Guest with Ina Garten, which I love. It’s a show where she has a famous person come to her East Hampton home and she interviews them and cooks with them. I found this show while on a plane.

The first half hour is a sit down interview where they sit at Ina’s kitchen table and talk. The best part, I think. The second half is them in the kitchen cooking and chatting, but I prefer the first part where you learn a lot about people and how they got their starts, their philosophies, etc. But now the Food Network screwed up the whole thing by having only the half hour cooking segment, and for the whole hour, you have to subscribe to a streaming service. So you now have to pay for the best part.

I read a reader’s comment somewhere that says the celebs are bubbleheads and this person who left the comment didn’t care what these “bubbleheads” had to say. He felt the cooking segment was the best part, but I feel the opposite and I don’t find Stanley Tucci, Emily Blunt, Marcus Samuelsson, Nathan Lane and Julianna Margulies, bubbleheads, quite the opposite. They all have very interesting stories about their lives and how they got to where they are now in life.

And one more show I like, which is sort of a travel/cooking show is Stanley Tucci’s Searching for Italy show on CNN. It’s excellent and knowing that Stanley grew up in Calabria, Italy, makes it more interesting. The first street I lived on as an adult was Calabria (in Coral Gables, FL), so it comes full circle in a way.

Anyway, on with my favorite cooks – Christina Pirello, hosts Christina Cooks, a half hour cooking show, where she prepares what she calls Macroterranean food. – it’s vegan Italian/Mediterranean food. No meat, no butter, sugar, etc. All natural. I mostly love her personality, she reminds me of so many people I know from the Northeast – Staten Island, New Jersey, etc. Christina is based in Philadelphia.

One thing we disagree with is that she calls Italian sauce “gravy” but we always grew up with it being called “sauce,” and she insists it’s her way, but I disagree. How many times did my mother call me up and say, “I’m making sauce tonight, you wanna come over?” By sauce she meant pasta, meatballs, whatever was made with the sauce (not gravy). Gravy is brown stuff you use on meats!

It’s funny because at Christmas, one of my nieces, a vegan, made some sort of pasta that I loved. I said to her, it’s so light, the cheese not so overpowering. She said it was vegan. I said, “Oh right, I know of this Italian cook (Christina) who uses white miso instead of parmigiana cheese and it tastes the same, only lighter.” And my niece told me that that’s where she got the recipe – from Christina and it was white miso instead of cheese in this dish!

Rory likes to use a lot of wild greens and flowers in his dishes.

Next up, Rory O’Connell. He has a half hour cooking show, How to Cook Well from County Cork farmhouse, in Ireland. He has a thick Irish accent and I love to listen to him talk. He uses such great expressions, things we wouldn’t say in the U.S.

Rory uses a lot of plants and flowers in his cooking. He sometimes goes overboard and finishes a dish covering it with so many edible flowers, that you can’t see what the main dish is below all those blooms. But I like him a lot and find him entertaining.

Mary Ann Esposito has the longest running cooking show on tv called Cia Italia. She’s messy in her cooking, very homey and friendly and cooks in her own home kitchen in New Hampshire, where she lives.

Three of the four live in places I love – Ina lives in East Hampton, NY, Mary Ann lives in New Hampshire and Rory lives in Ireland. Christina lives in Philadelphia, meh, not my fav, but I still like her.

All of the shows I watch on PBS and Ina is on the Food Network and Discovery Plus for the full hour episodes.

And as Lydia Bastianich, another favorite cook says, “Tutti a tavola a mangiare!

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