Italian Cuisine and Culture: In Conversation with Memoir Author Maria Pasquale
Tell us about your experience as a multicultural woman in the 21st century. How have Australian and Italian culture affected you differently?
They have had a positive and enriching effect on me. I’m proudly Australian and equally proud of my Italian heritage. These ties I have to Italy have been ingrained in me since I was a child, nurtured as a teen and have ultimately defined me as an adult. I have two cultures and traditions and they gave me a cheat’s way to becoming bilingual!
Growing up in Australia, Italian language was always heard at home, as was Italian music and TV. Italian customs weren’t seen as chores or obligations but just a way of life. As kids, we were encouraged to learn Italian at school and to attend Italian Saturday school. I didn’t appreciate it at the time but looking back now, I thank my parents for this decision. Because only as an adult can I appreciate that it is a gift to be encouraged to embrace your heritage. Living in Italy and being able to speak the language itself has taught me what it means to be Italian.
We read your book I Heart Rome: Recipes & Stories from the Eternal City, and loved it! Tell us what it is about and what inspired you to write it.
Through photos, recipes, stories and personal anecdotes it captures the very essence of Rome, its people and its rich culinary history. It’s my love letter to the city I’ve loved forever and called home for almost seven years. It has 70 recipes, stories and tips on how to navigate the food landscape of the eternal city. It features interviews with some key personalities in the Roman food sector and in particular, the locals who I’ve met along the way on my Rome adventures – I like to call them the unsung heroes of the food world here… the ones that aren’t famous but work tirelessly to maintain and promote local traditions.
Rome and the people of Rome were my inspiration. I felt strongly that the story of life in Rome and the modern-day Romans deserved to be told. These stories are important because so many of Rome’s cultural and historic traditions are tied to food. I’ve felt for years that stories like the positive ones I’ve chosen to share could do much to engender a sense of pride amongst Romans and boost morale.
How did you balance the culinary and story aspects of the book?
Did you face any mental blocks while writing your book?
More generally, what drives you to write about food while traveling?
Tell us about the most memorable meal you ate in Rome. Did you write about it in your book?
Any last bits of advice for women looking to write, travel and dive into culinary adventures?
If you speak your truth, be yourself and authentically express your personality and identity, you have the power to really strike a chord with people, with readers. I do that with my blog and with the content I curate for press and my social media channels. I’ve found that when a voice is authentic, people are drawn to it and want to find out more. So many followers and readers have become friends and so many around the world are so full of admiration and encouragement for my journey – I’m forever grateful for this.
I’d also encourage aspiring writers to read constantly and learn all you can from anyone who is willing to share their story, especially when travelling.