Next Tuesday you can catch Vinny Guadagnino, most well known for his hit reality show, “The Jersey Shore” and his mom, Paola in a fun show, Vinny & Ma Eat America.
Vinny Guadagnino’s mom, Paola, is the best cook in their big Italian family, but the problem is she only cooks and eats Italian. Now, Vinny is taking his Ma across the country on a culinary road trip of a lifetime, to taste and discover delicious food she’s never tried before. No passport is needed on this trip — this mother and son adventure is all about eating America!
I was given the opportunity to do a Q & A with Vinny and Paola. Here are my questions for them and their responses:
1) Growing up with a Sicilian Grandfather I know that the Italian tradition is food that mimics grandmothers kitchen. Are there any restaurants your family will eat at that is considered close to real Italian cuisine?
VINNY: Staten island (where we are from), has a very large Italian-American population so there are various little restaurants that do it pretty well. I’m a fan of a restaurant named il Mulino in Manhattan because they serve you a lot of appetizers before you even start your meal as you would in an Italian household. But nothing is like your own family kitchen .
2) I live near Seattle, so I’m curious what type of cuisine you both would associate Seattle with and what foods you would seek out in the Pacific NW?
VINNY: I’ve actually never been to Seattle. I am a fan of the show Portlandia, so I ignorantly think a lot of that area of the country eat sort of hipsterish (i.e., organic, local, vegan type of cuisine. ) I wouldn’t assume there would be a lot of Italian food there.
3) About making foods! Do you cook all things fresh and homemade or is there a pre-made grocery store must-have you use at all?
VINNY: It depends. My mom makes anything with dough from scratch (i.e. bread, pizza, cookies.) But only special occasions will she make pasta from scratch and we have our go-to brand names that we use on all other occasions. We would never buy pre-made sauce. All of our meats like chicken dishes are from scratch. So mostly fresh, but we have little things we use here in there from the store.
4) If someone wanted to start making fresh pastas (which I really do want to learn)-should one remain as intimidated as making pasta seems to be?
PAOLA: The ingredients aren’t hard but when we make homemade pasta we roll out each piece by hand. So if you want to do it the old fashioned way like us, be prepared to wake up very early to roll all day.
For anyone attempting homemade pasta-what one piece of advice would you give that is a must-know?
PAOLA: Always keep a drop of olive oil on your hands while rolling and handling the dough to prevent it from sticking. In one of the episodes on “Vinny And Ma” this was a very simple but important thing to do while we learned Chinese Noodle Pulling.
5) What does (Italian) food mean to you? What roots does food touch and keep alive about the Italian traditions?
VINNY: Italian food means everything to my family. It brings us together almost every week and on every occasion when we have our feasts. The food is the center of it all. It makes us happy and with each bite we go back in time because every recipe has been passed down from generation to generation.