Last year Leanne was asked by her good friend Paola aka The Tiny Italian to create a series of videos of her cooking up a STORM for her social media channels. It’s safe to say this was a dream job for Leanne, as cooking and hosting has always been one of her passions. Here we gain a bit of an insight into Paola’s world and how she became The Tiny Italian
What can I say? I’m IN LOVE with Italian food, whether that’s eating it, cooking it or obsessing on reading every Italian recipe book on the planet. As long as anyone is interested in joining me, I can conversate about it at great length, most probably with over-the-top hand gestures & wiggly eyebrows.
I would say my obsession started around the time my dad, Salvatore Maggiulli, sold his Italian delicatessen, Salumeria Napoli, Battersea.
He had it for nearly 20 years and throughout our teenage years, both my bother and I would begrudgingly work on weekends and the holidays. While our friends were hanging out, we were getting shown how to slice parma ham perfectly or how to wrap a chunk of parmesan.
It’s only looking back at those times that I have realised how much it has influenced and driven my obsession.
As a child, I was extremely picky when it came to food. I used to look enviously at my school friends pack lunches which would consist of the sandwich and crisp combo while eating a healthy Italian frittata. The only Italian food I would eat was a simple pizza and pasta. I wasn’t interested in olives, Italian charcuterie or cheeses.
However, it was during my twenties, when I started to work regularly at the deli, that I started to appreciate the delicacies and flavours that I had chosen to ignore for many years. Over time I started to try and regularly eat everything that my dad used to sell. When we went on holiday to Italy, I used to hover over my aunts and Nonna (rest her soul) while they cooked 5-course lunches for all the family just so I could take in the aromas and cheekily ask for tasters. I remember the first time I was given a slice of peach that had been dunked into red wine. It blew my mind. They knew exactly what they were doing.
I slowly started to understand how important food was to my family. It wasn’t just fuel, it was a time to sit together, talk very loudly over each other and just simply be content with life. One of my fondest memories, is my Zia Teresa, propping a large loaf of bread under her arm, slicing it one-handed and then frisbeeing it down to everyone sitting at the table. Major skills.
When my dad sold the deli, only then did I realise the void we were going to have in our lives. No longer could we get free parma ham, pesto, olives, cheese, pasta etc. As a family, we were going to have to go elsewhere to stock up on our cupboards and fridges. It was a huge shock and it was then that I realised that I could not walk away from my Italian food roots. Instead, I would embrace and learn as much as I could about it to keep it alive. I couldn’t let go straight away. So I started a little food stall (as soon as the deli closed). For a year I would sell all my dad’s best sellers in Battersea on a Saturday morning.
At the time, I was working full time in the stressful world of fashion and soon realised that my new found love for Italian food and cooking was having a positive impact on my life.
I was choosing to take better care with of myself, by eating a healthy Mediterranean diet; cooking was relieving me from daily stress, and I was seeing my friends regularly as I chose to host an Italian home-cooked dinner at home. Spending more time with my friends and chatting about everyday life was making me happier. This is what my Italian family had done for years and I was now reaping the benefits.
So I decided to continue my journey by reading and cooking as many regional Italian dishes while researching the best restaurants and delicatessens in London. Hence, why I became an Italian food blogger. I wanted to share my new found love with anyone that wanted to listen.
Now The Tiny Italian is no longer a hobby but I have made it into my dream career. I’m a proud freelanceItalian food expert and chef. I decided to sharpen up my culinary skills at Leiths cooking school of food and wine, and I have travelled all over Italy to learn about all the amazing regional recipes and food culture.
As well as offering private cooking services, I put on events where I share my love for the culture, where people not only eat my food but enjoy the company of others, talk, laugh and feel free from everyday stresses. I also now consult with Italian food and drink brands, have a food column, while still sharing my favourite recipes and Italian food travel tips.
If you would like to collaborate or have any queries then please fill free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
For now, I hope you enjoy this website and it answers all your Italian food questions and desires.