I'm originally Italian and moved to Ireland on the 27th of March 1995.
Back in 2003 one of my stakeholders, a Director from the old Symantec days, once commented about me, over a pint: "You are Jolly, yes, but you are 3 times trouble!"
Little did he know that back in the University Choir I was singing both Alto and Tenor, according to the score available.
In Italian, you refer to the "Jolly" as the card in a deck of cards that can hold different values, and my friends therefore immediately nicknamed me "Jolly".
I thought his description fitted me perfectly (referring to the semantic meaning of "Jolly" in both languages, and of course agreeing with him on the concept of "trouble", as when I want to reach an objective I am never afraid of rocking the boat).
I guess it still applies today completely.
I started cooking when I was 12, originally I was taught to cook by my mother (she didn't like to cook at all, so I only learnt only a couple of things from her), but then when I was 15 I moved to the same city in which my granny Nonna Lu was living, and she taught me a lot of techniques and recipes.
At the same time I was also living with my father, and he taught me a few of his recipes (he did not cook a lot of them, but some were really wonderful).
I continued to cook all my life, always reading cooking books, magazines, recipes and techniques found online, and I then started not to follow any of them, but, using the accrued experience, I always used any recipe as an inspiration, stealing ideas here and there and developing my own style.
It is my style that you will read about here, although I also post some of the very few recipes that I still follow as they were given to me by wonderful and loving people in my life.
Ireland has some great food also, and I've been learning how to cook the most traditional food, tapping into the memory of my lifelong boyfriend and talking to elderly ladies who remember recipies from the old times.
We both loved cooking, and we divided the types of cusines between us: I always cooked Italian, Irish, French and Indian dishes, while he was cooking Thai and Vietnamese dishes.
I'll approach Thai cusine next year.
My granny Nonna Lu used to tell me that cooking was one of the 3 things a lady should learn to do well in order to have a loving, lasting marriage:
Be excellent in the kitchen
Make sure the man thought that all decisions for the family were his own
Kiss lovely kisses
She said she could teach me how to cook, the rest was up to myself.
We were not married, but were very happy together for 27 years and 8 days.
I learned how to cook, for the rest I think I've figured it out :-)
I started when I was 18, during a summer night back in Pisa, my parents away for the weekend, listening to heavy metal and Mozart, alternating between them, in a loop. Vecchia Romagna at the ready, the floor covered with an old sheet (yeah, was in the living room), and painted from my head what I intended to be the portrait of my sister (who, thankfully, is much more beautiful than my painting), and shapes that, when my Dad saw them, were identical to the shapes he used to draw when he was the same age (I never knew, he didn't show them to me neither before nor after, as his ones got lost through the years).
I used paints and brushes that were in an old wooden box inherited from my granny Nonna Lu, whom I adored, and who was not that much of a painter either :-)
That painting was frankly horrendous, but I loved doing it and spent a marvellous night, I think I collapsed on the sofa around 5am, eaten alive by mosquitoes.
I then painted the outline of a sailing boat on my bedroom wall, think of those poor guys who had to get rid of it when my dad sold the house!
I went on painting, always in oils, as Nonna Lu did, in bouts: I would paint for a few weeks, sometimes months, then nothing for years, then again.
2018 was so far my most prolific year: we went on a holiday in the West of Ireland, in a place called Headford, on the border between Co. Mayo and Co. Galway. We found an Air B&B cottage in the bottom of a small valley, it was June and there was a very unusual dry spell, always sunny, always quite warm for Ireland. It was so nice that we extended the holiday for a second week.
I spent the time painting from 6am until midnight, every day. He spent it reading, writing, and bathing bare chested in the warm sunlight in the garden, and loving every minute of it.
I never attended any art school, joined a night community school once, where everybody was doing their own thing, and the "teacher" simply went around giving some tips.
In 2020 I invested in a (very expensive!) online course of two weeks with Mark Carder: 20 mins every night while he reviewed my progress on a given painting he gave me a reference picture for. He is frankly amazing, I learnt a lot and produced the most beautiful painting I ever did, so far. But I was very slow, and did only a bit of it. I cannot finish it on my own, so I'll leave it unfinished, but will always cherish it.
I was painting a real life composition, with garlic and lemons, that Ayo helped me compose and set up, in August 2022. It remains also unfinished, for quite different reasons. But it is my most precious painting.
I haven't painted since then. I just cannot face living on my own that special atmosphere that the house gets when I paint.
But, like for everything else, I will start again, I'm sure of it. Maybe in 2024, after I get my diamond, I don't know yet.