Have you ever met someone who is famous and an inspiration to you and when meeting face to face you find your brain slows down so much that you don't know what you are saying or doing? Well, I recently had that moment meeting Giada De Laurentiis on her book tour for Giada at Home.
My friend Craig (who is a chef) arrived at Sur La Table in Plano early with his three-year-old daughter (who was a perfect angel in the glass aisle) and held a spot for me and my friend Margot.
Margot and I walked in, bypassing all the people standing in the rain. We felt bad about this but Craig had gone to the effort of saving us a prime spot! As soon as we got in, the line started moving and there she was, the tiny Everyday Italian beauty, I don't think I've ever been so star struck!
Photos: Giada's new cookbook, Giada at Home and the line to see Giada at Sur La Table (thankfully we did not have to wait outside in the rain)!
My conversation with Giada:
Me: Hi Giada!
Me: We were pregnant at the same time!
Giada: Oh, then you must have a two-year old.
Giada: Boy or Girl?
Giada: Is he a good eater?
Giada: That's great! Jade is a good eater too.
Me: Thank you so much!
Giada: You are welcome.
Oh my gosh! My brain just went blank. Giada was actually talking to me and I said yeah! I could have said so many things that I practiced in my imaginary conversations with her in my head. I wanted to tell her my children love her Fried Zucchini and that my husband's favorite meal is her Chicken Marsala and that I love how she incorporates Lemoncello into so many of her recipes. Oh well! I will never forget her part of the conversation.
Giada and I have a lot in common (at least I like to stretch it that way)! We are both chocoholics, working mothers, love all things Italian, enjoy workouts that work the body and calm the mind (she loves yoga and I love Pilates), take joy in cooking for people we love, she is married to Anthropologie clothing designer Todd Thompson (I love that store), our younger siblings had melanoma (unfortunately she lost her brother), therefore we are both religious about putting sunscreen on our children.
I was struck by how tiny Giada is in person. She is just this itty bitty person! I love that you can tell she's comfortable with her body. You CAN be a sexy mom in the kitchen! If I had her bust, I'd be flaunting it too! I've read she attributes her figure to working out and eating small portions. I really think this is a European thing. American children were taught to clean our plates, European children are taught to savor each bite and use the freshest ingredients. I do believe people like Giada and Jamie Oliver are changing American food culture.
Giada De Laurentiis was born in Rome, Italy. Giada means "jade" in Italian (Jade is her two-year-old daughter's name). She has quite the Italian American family! Giada is the granddaughter of film producer Dino De Laurentiis.
Family and food were the top two priorities growing up. If you've watched her shows on Food Network you can see this when Giada cooks with her sister, brother, mother, and (my favorite) Aunt Raffy! Even though Giada has her degree from UCLA in Anthropology she pursued her passion for food at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris specializing in cuisine and pastry.
Did you know Giada is the voice of Paulette on Disney's Handy Manny? I have yet to hear her character say "Spa-GIT-tee!"
Have you shopped at Target lately? You can find Giada's new line! She's been the spokesperson for Barilla and now has her own line of pastas, sauces, cooking utensils...I've been sampling her pasta sauces and love them. I do like to make my own, but that's not always practical. I also really like that Giada doesn't look down on time-savers like bottled pasta sauce. She's a working mom too!
I think most of the people who watch her shows are moms who need to get dinner on the table fast. I think it's really nice that she gives substitutions...She'll say if you can't find pancetta use bacon instead. She makes real food that keeps families happy and healthy. I've read she said, "If you make vegetables in a boring way kids won't eat them." She is such an inspiration to my cooking. I will always love Julia Child, but Giada is the modern "today's mom" and I love that everything she does is doable for me too. She keeps things simple using few ingredients.
Did you know Giada is the ambassador for Oxfam America? Oxfam's mission is to end poverty and injustice by doing things like improving farming methods and clean water. http://www.oxfamamerica.org
My favorite Giada shows involve her trips to Italy. One of them has nothing to do with food, but with shoes!! When Giada and her mother are in Rome in Weekend Getaways they go to a shoe store and have their shoes made for them on the spot. This place is definitely on my list of places to go!
It's called Dal Co. http://www.dalco-roma.com
Since I met Giada, I've been cooking my way through her new cookbook every chance I get. Something I love about her recipes is that I feel encouraged to improvise. I use what I already have (I didn't have a yellow onion so I used leeks, I didn't have Fontina so I used mozzarella). Life is all about improvising and going with the flow. Buon Appetito!
Do you have a favorite Giada show (Everyday Italian, Behind the Bash, Weekend Getaways, Giada in Paradise, and most recently, Giada at Home)? What's your favorite Giada recipe?