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Laura Luvara – food is my religion.

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Photo: Matthew Furneaux

I’m a writer and an enthusiastic home cook.

One of my favourite things to do on a weekend is be at home in my cosy Woodend cottage with my boyfriend Matthew and our chocolate Labrador Bruce and cook up a warming soup or a hearty roast dinner. Or better still, bake some cookies with my favourite kitchen appliance – Gigi the green KitchenAid.

I also love spending time with my family and friends, most of which involve huge, Italian feasts. My emphasis is always on home-made, whole foods cooked simply and with lots of tasty goodness.

Growing up in an Italian family has made a huge impression on my cooking. It goes without saying that food is religion to any Italian.
My father, Natalino, was a butcher – so meat was always a feature. Good. Quality. Meat. Each year, dad continues makes Italian pork sausages to both dry into salami and cook fresh.

My maternal grandmother, Maria, is a typical Italian cook. While my grandfather, Cosimo, was still alive, they would often make fresh pasta for the family to enjoy with fresh passata (tomato puree) that had been made and bottled when tomatoes were fresh.

My mother, Carmela, is the baker extraordinaire. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of mum firing up the whirring Mixmaster to bake a delicious chocolate cake. Of course, the best part of this experience was getting to lick the beaters. Needless to say, all of my birthday cakes were masterpieces.

The other major culinary influence for me has been my Aunty Cathy and Uncle Sam. Aunty Cathy is one of those amazing Italian cooks that can fill a table with the most delicious, amazing food for the whole family to share while making it look effortless. The most amazing thing is that most of the food is grown in Uncle Sam’s amazing vegetable garden. This has inspired me to grow my own vegies in my garden in Woodend.

The other things that inspire my love of food are ‘food porn’ like recipe books (I have more than I could ever use), MasterChef and My Kitchen Rules and newspaper lift-outs like Epicure and Taste. I’m always soaking up new ideas.

Overall, my philosophy on food is to cook from the heart, with fresh, delicious ingredients honouring my culture and history and simply to put a smile on my loved ones’ faces.

Who in your family inspires you in the kitchen? Maybe it was the way grandma used to make her sponges, or watching your mum make a favourite dish when you were a child? Share your food stories in the comments sections below.

As mentioned, Nanna is a great inspiration to my cooking. Next Monday I will share with you her secret recipe for homemade gnocchi – you won’t want to miss it!



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