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Italian cuisine: a remedy for the body and mind

Thanks to yoga, I had the pleasure of exploring and discovering Ayurveda, one of the most ancient Indian sciences. It teaches us we that we are what we eat, and nothing can heal us more than food.

Although I am of Western descent, this tenet has resonated with me, and has led me to also reflect on the profound facets of Italian cuisine and traditions.

If you’ve ever chatted with an Italian, they most likely would have mentioned their grandmother's remedy or cooking tips for restoring mental and physical well-being.

Have the flu? Grandmothers used to prepare a soup made from chicken broth, which, besides its warmth and comfort, often seemed to genuinely help people heal. It just so happens that a study from a few years ago proved the value of this homemade remedy. Chicken meat releases essential amino acids when cooking, and these provide valuable support to the human immune system.

Digestion issues? I don’t know a single Italian who has never “drank a canary.” The canarino is prepared by boiling a simple infusion of cold water and several lemon peels. A glass of the yellow liquid will always help you get back on your feet after a poorly digested meal.

During the spring solstice, field herbs, which are found in hundreds of regional Italian recipes, offer a natural detox program. Herbal decoctions and soups are the perfect panaceas for any seasonal ailments.

Have a cold? Warm milk infused with sage, laurel, and one tablespoon each of honey and grappa helps you fall asleep even during the most difficult winter nights.

But that's not all. Food prepared with love and fresh raw materials can help restore balance even at its most precarious. It's natural—after breathing, eating and drinking are the first natural needs of humans.

I don't think there is an Italian in the world who has not found a comforting hot dish on the table after a bad day or a fresh cake to celebrate a special occasion, all prepared at home with love from fresh, quality ingredients.

I’ve had great teachers my whole life, and they’ve given me indelible childhood memories. I will never forget my mother's steaming hot chocolate pudding waiting for me on the kitchen table every Friday afternoon. It’s meaning was quite profound, symbolizing the fact that she was home, the week was over, and we could finally be together without our work or school commitments, which often caused us to only see each other for dinner.

With mom and dad, Christmas Eve was always characterized by the sound of Imperia, the machine used to roll out pasta. We prepared ravioli for Christmas lunch and we waited between dishes of stuffed pasta to wish each other Merry Christmas at midnight.

Aunt Ancilla knew how to welcome me for lunch after difficult school days. She always had a cutlet and roasted potatoes waiting for me on the table, which always turned my day around for the better.

Every Sunday at my grandmother's house, I’d always open the kitchen door to see two large pots on the stove: one full of steaming polenta with a paiolo in legno (a Northern Italian wooden ladle used to stir polenta) and one mysteriously covered. When the latter arrived on the table, she would remove the lid to reveal the world’s best roast chicken.

Mamma Gabri, my mother-in-law, would make Christmas memorable for the whole family. The food tasted sublime, prepared at home and with raw materials from local farms, but with the care and attention to detail that made every Christmas magical and special.

My personal memories brought Caponatina Lab's services to life, which involve creating special moments marked by flavors and conviviality, from an energizing, enjoyable lunch break during a day-long meeting to a happy, comforting return home after a long day.

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