Real Italian Kitchen is a food and health blog by me, Valentina Raffaelli!

I was born in a small town in Tuscany called Pietrasanta, and raised not far from there in what became my home town, Forte dei Marmi. I grew up on my parent's beach resort, Bagno Margherita, playing in the sand (sometimes eating a lot of it), swimming in the Mediterranean, getting stung by jellyfish.

When I was old enough to reach the bar and make coffees I started working with them there. I spent all the lunch services waiting for my mom to hand me her amazing dishes to bring to the tables, watching her every move as she was putting them together.

I moved to Bologna when I was nineteen. I knew how to cook from watching my mother all those years but I didn't have the craft in my hands, plus I'm left handed and my mom was never able to teach me how to cut properly...

So I started cooking as a beginner, like everybody else, making beginner's mistakes: spilling the hot boiling water on myself while draining the pasta, cutting myself, burning myself with the oven. Eventually, I started doing it less and less, now it rarely happens. But it still happens. Cooking is a dangerous thing!

After graduating college in Italy I followed my dream to be a musician and I followed who now is my American husband to Philadelphia. Here I became a music teacher, a performer, a songwriter, a pianist and of course, a better cook!

The reasons behind this blog.  No"food police" please...

The very first thing that I missed here was the food from my country. No offense, but the italian food they serve here in Philly has NOTHING to do with what we make in Tuscany!

Because most italian immigrants come from southern Italy, american-italian cuisine is an interpretation of the recipes of those regions (Sicilia, Calabria, Campania, Abruzzo).
There are 20 regions in Italy and each one of them has provinces and those are made up by dozens of small little towns and those have neighborhoods... AND EACH NEIGHBORHOOD COOKS THE SAME RECIPE DIFFERENTLY!! And they're all right and they're all good... well... at least most of them!

So no "food police" here please. I don't wanna hear that "your grandma made it differently and that was the right way". There is no "wrong way" to cook something if in the end it tastes good. It's the same in music. It's the end result that counts.

With this blog I wanted to showcase good eating habits that come from simple meals, few things on the plates, not necessarily dishes all the time. I wanted to show that cooking is easy and feeding yourself is even simpler if you know how to combine ingredients properly.

My menu is made mostly of traditional tuscan dishes, but some cooking basics come from the french school. Like puff pastry or fruit tarts. Or Tarte Tatin. mmm... Tarte Tatin...

Eating only italian food would be boring, so I never stop learning from other cuisines, I never stop tasting new things and obviously I love making up new inventions that put a little spin on traditional italian dishes.

I have the same tastes in music: if it's good the genre doesn't matter, good music like good food can be great all over the world!

My choice of ingredients. 

I buy strictly organic. For fish I only buy wild caught, no colorants added. For meat at the store only if it's verified cruelty free, otherwise no meat. I have a few trusted butchers that I go to once a month and that I know for sure they don't feed hormones, antibiotics and corn to their animals and the animals roam free outside. I hate animal cruelty. I love wine.