Italian Tradition – Home Cooking

26 Feb

One of the very best things to enjoy in Italy is the food. But what makes it so special? In a word, local. Italians pride themselves on eating and cooking what is locally available, and in many cases, home grown. That means that menus not only change with the seasons, they are also based on long standing regional traditions passed on from one generation to the next, and, of course, dictated by the terroir or environment.





When I first began traveling to Italy, I always wished that I would be invited into the home of a local. I wanted to experience the lady of the house cooking for her family, to learn from her and then eat what was prepared. It’s hard to walk the narrow streets of small towns and villages and not get caught up in the delicious smells and banter bellowing from the windows at lunch and dinner.

Luckily for us, we now have native Italian friends who invite us into their homes and give us this opportunity.



But as we travel to other parts of Italy, is there a way to have similar experiences?

Meet Le Cesarine, a group of  “landlords chosen through a careful selection by Home Food in order to preserve and promote the heritage of wisdom, tradition and culture hidden in the thousands of recipes of our regional cuisine.” According to their website,

Home Food has built a network of “Cesarine” all over the peninsula in order to offer the possibility to find in many places in Italy a cosy table, rich of food prepared and maintained for the members only. For the reason that the “Cesarine” do not manage a restaurant in their houses, but invite you to their tables as a guest of the family who shares the passion for the tradition, the land and its tastes, values, which constitute the mission of Home Food.

Home Foods, founded in 2004, is a collaborative effort among several groups in Italy whose goal is to “spread the culture of traditional food interwoven with the culture of the typical products and the particular area.”

If you think about it, Italy has thousands of informally trained household cooks who, without recipes, create incredible meals from starter through dessert. Home Food has tapped into this resource and created a network of cesarine – grandmothers, mothers, aunts and daughters, who are knowledgeable of their local area, passionate about cooking, and willing to share their traditions as they host events in their homes.

Through Home Food, registered members have the opportunity to learn traditional culinary methods, eat traditional meals, and truly experience regional Italian culture in the home of a cesarine.

I learned of this organization through an article by Irene Levine in the Chicago Tribune, dated February 1, 2015. She and her husband had the opportunity to experience a cooking lesson in the home of a cesarine from Bologna. Although I have not yet participated, Irene’s story presented a way for travelers to experience the flavors and culinary traditions throughout Italy as guests in a local home. If your Italy TO DO list includes a mini cooking class, or eating in the home of a local, this might well be your opportunity.

Their calendar includes event dates, locations, recipes, a bit of history, and pricing. And if you partake, I’d love to hear your feedback.

Buon Appetito!




5 Responses to “Italian Tradition – Home Cooking”

  1. Jean February 28, 2015 at 11:51 AM #

    Cesarine means Empress? Empress of the kitchen?
    I know you and Les have families that came from different areas of Italy. I’d love to hear if you decide to go to those areas for home cooking and find dishes that your families brought here and fed you as a child.
    If you google “cesarine” there is a great 2010 New York Times article about them.


  2. karenincalabria March 30, 2015 at 1:37 AM #

    As you say, Judy, everyone would love to have the opportunity of being invited into a private home to have that authentic experience. This program sounds like a wonderful way to do just that, getting to know both the people and the cuisine. Thanks for passing it along.


  3. Kara April 1, 2015 at 4:04 PM #

    Lovely blog post! The pictures are amazing. Reminds me of an awesome food tour I took in Naples. It was with this company: They were so friendly and took us around to all the authentic food spots. Divine!


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