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Gabriele Corcos’ Italian Take on Soul Food

Here in the United States the definition of soul food is pretty straightforward: It indicates traditional Southern food that is representative of the African-American heritage and legacy. It is in every sense the result of the African diaspora and the necessity that displaced communities, during the dark ages of slavery, had to maintain their historical identity, using food as a medium.

It is not as easy, when referring to Italy, to define a similar way of cooking, mostly because of the peninsula’s much longer history. Italy always has been a point of access to Europe for many civilizations that lived on the Mediterranean Sea; it has been colonized and/or dominated through the centuries by foreigners such as Greeks, Byzantines, Spaniards, French and many North African populations, and those have made their way into our Southern regions since history can remember. Because of the access that the Italian peninsula offers to central Europe, in the past few decades our land has also become a real highway for many people migrating away from countries like Morocco, the Balkan regions and the Middle East, to more promising economies such as France and Germany.

As a result, many recipes and ingredients in the south of Italy carry memories of ancient times and modern migrations as well: Middle Eastern flatbreads, Moroccan couscous and Turkish capers are the first examples that come to mind as you explore the culinary offerings of Sicily and other southern regions.

Tuscany is historically a poor region as far as industrial development or city expansion goes, so our land has not really absorbed much in terms of food belonging to different ethnicities, simply because not many migrating groups decided to settle here; you can consider the food in Tuscany as one of the purest forms of Italian food. Some would argue that the same exact thing happened to Italian language in Tuscany: It has evolved in an unadulterated way for centuries, stemming from its Latin roots, and is often held to form a linguistic group of its own, aside from many other regional Italian dialects where a foreign influence is more detectable.

Tune in to Extra Virgin tonight at 8pm ET to watch Gabriele and Debi hang out with Fab Five Freddy and try some of his favorite Harlem haunts.


Comments (5)

  1. gary lamppa posted 06/12/2014

    Why don't you have more cooking shows rather than soap opera's.

  2. Hattie R posted 06/12/2014

    Awesome! Loved this episode. I am going to try my hand at the polenta recipe this weekend.
    Love you guys!!!

  3. jan posted 06/12/2014

    love you guys!! so real AND doable!!! i am going for the polenta. you guys rock!! hey, come to Big Sky country and do a episode around Yellowstone Park Big Sky, MT! loved the camping episode!

  4. Mark posted 06/12/2014

    Love every episode up until today. The food and the recipies are still tremendous. What's with the music? Its so distracting I cant focus on what I like the best, the banter between the two of you and the hearing of the food sizzeling and sounds of cooking. This is how people learn about personalities and preperation of the foods. You dont need the backround music, if I want music I will go to itunes. I go to extra virgin to experience fine tuscan cooking.

  5. Donna Eversole posted 06/15/2014

    I swear ya'll are the luci and desi of cooking!
    Loving the new season!

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