We are living in the era of playlists, which makes me feel a bit old. I left my turntables and vinyl behind, when I moved to Los Angeles to chase Debi, but I shipped all of my CDs.
For many years Debi and I had one of the most-wonderful music libraries I have ever seen in my life: Her passion for old jazz, American classics and early hip-hop married well with my collection of Brazilian and Cuban albums. In our first house together, we had an entire library that showcased our music collection, and we lived the joy of popping a CD into the system until the very last breath of that music medium.
Continue Reading Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos’ Favorite Cooking Music
“This is not a restaurant!”
That’s what my mother used to say when either I or my brother dared to complain, question or even take too long to go through our dinner plate.
Don’t get me wrong — food in my house has always been good if not excellent, farm to table and as clean as it gets; but there are always a few food items in the life of a child that are able to make him or her shiver and possibly hate whoever dared to cook and serve them.
For me it was mushrooms and artichokes, and I’ve got stories for both.
I was around 7 or 8 years old and I remember that moment as if it was yesterday: It was about 3 p.m., I was on a school trip to the River Po region in northern Italy, and we had been walking all day and could not find a place to eat, as everybody was already home for their siesta. Our teacher finally found an open restaurant, or better, a restaurant that was closing down but not just yet. She convinced the chef to prepare “whatever he wanted” for a class of 25 hungry kids: “All right then,” he replied, “but the only thing I can make you is a risotto!”
Continue Reading How Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos Get Their Kids to Eat Healthy
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.
Continue Reading Gabriele Corcos’ Italian Take on Soul Food
Growing up I had plenty of chances to camp, and when I say “camp” I mean for real: small tent, heavy backpack, dehydrated foods, rain cover and minimal underwear changes!
When my brother and I were young, my father would have us spend the summer roughing it on his small army raft: We would leave Fiesole, Italy, with a car loaded with luggage and our power raft on a trailer bed. My father would drive us to whatever place he and my mother had picked for our summer vacation, and the fun would begin. We always had a home-base minimal rental apartment to store luggage, keep some groceries, and eventually rest here and there, but the real vacation was exploring the coast with the raft. My father would seek the most-isolated beaches; we would spend the day fishing and eventually land the raft at shore, make a campfire and cook our prey. We would sleep under the stars and wake up to the sound of the shore — it was the ultimate adventure for me and my brother.
Continue Reading Why Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos Think You Should Go Camping This Summer
When you visit certain regions of Italy and get lost in the multitude of flavors that are so specific to the land, the simple thought of not bringing home some food is in general inadmissible. Parmigiano, lardo, salame, extra virgin olive oil, a couple bottles of wine you just need to have your friends try. How many times did I pack it all up in the dirty laundry secured in my luggage, then fly back home, hoping that the smell of a hot and humid summer on my tank tops would be enough to trick that brown beagle roaming the basement of JFK airport with a USDA agent on its leash?
As the world is shrinking, though, many of the ingredients you can savor while traveling through the bel paese are now somewhat available in the United States — and more so on the Internet. Once you have developed a taste for something Italian that you cannot live without, rest assured that with a little research, chances are you can relive your tasteful experience back home, wherever that might be.
Whenever we travel to Fiesole, Italy, one of our excuses for bouncing around villages like pinballs is to taste all the new batches of the wines we are fond of, make notes of new ones we discover along the way and occasionally buy a couple of cases.
Continue Reading Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos’ Favorite Wines
There are things in life we just cannot resist; it’s as simple as that.
I remember working in the gigantic kitchen of the Loews Hotel during the South Beach Wine and Food Festival a few years back, with multiple chefs preparing a menu for a 3,000-person tented event. It was a pleasurable mayhem of cooks, ingredients and loud jokes, and nobody yet was taking selfies. One of my chef friends was preparing chowder in a gigantic cooker; he climbed up on a short step stool and poured a bucket full of corn into the soup. He started laughing as a member of his crew passed him a second bucket, filled with what looked, at least from my station, like some sort of meat. My interest in the ongoing chowder preparation did not go unnoticed. My friend looked at me and said, “Everything tastes better with corn and bacon!”
In all honesty I really could not reply to that, as I did not agree at all. I did not grow up with a taste for either corn or bacon, simply because in Italy they are not popular ingredients. I like them both, but there’s no emotional attachment there. But the thought gave me pause, especially since my friend was sporting an ear-to-ear smile; he clearly was truly in love with his recipe, already longing for the first taste of what to him was going to be delicious.
Continue Reading Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos’ Guilty-Pleasure Foods
I spent the first two decades of my life patiently waiting for some sort of “total emancipation”; I always thought that freedom needed to be earned with age, and that once it happened I would finally find myself living the life I wanted. In the end, I believe only a few things are as pleasurable and powerful in life as being able to make decisions for yourself.
I found true freedom on the day I met my wife, Debi, about 13 years ago. I decided to follow her to Los Angeles, clearly inspired and motivated to build a family and grow old with her by my side. Always an incredible romantic, I made that decision impulsively. There were no questions or doubts in my mind, and it took me less than a month to leave everything behind and move to the U.S. It was a very happy decision: “I have finally found THE LOVE! I can feel it in each and every fiber of my body. THIS IS THE ONE!” I told myself, and my mom and the rest of my family, and all my friends.
Continue Reading Why Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar Go All Out for His Nonna’s Birthday
Our life is a freight train — a constant grind of family, jobs, chores and occasional headaches, just like everybody else’s life. Being that we live in New York City, this is somewhat amplified by the “concrete jungle” and the city’s never-ending buzz. This is not our house in Fiesole, Italy, where we can find peace by taking a walk in the olive orchard, or by simply sitting on a tree stump and waiting to spot a deer, pheasant or hare.
What works for Debi and me is to gift each other with free time: One of us takes care of it all, and the other one takes care of himself or herself. It does not sound as romantic as it is; our lifetime is always running too fast, and this is the only way we can find a pause.
Mother’s Day is one of those calendar events that is, for our family, as important as Christmas, and the girls and I always end up having a blast celebrating “Debina.”
Continue Reading Debi Mazar’s Mother’s Day Celebration
I grew up in a family of many religions, where Jewish and Catholic faith was blended accordingly. On top of that, my father is a surgeon and a researcher in the medical field, which allows him to find escape and comfort in alien-driven evolutionary theories, Aztec and Mayan end-of-the-world predictions, with a very peculiar result: Our calendar is a real mess!
I have always celebrated religious holidays with the utmost respect and truly profound conviction, even when Passover really messed up with Easter; if dad was on Passover there were no cakes or bread in the house, but if Easter overlapped, how could I enjoy a slice of colomba cake?
It was not always easy.
Continue Reading Why Gabriele Corcos Thinks Olive Oil is Liquid Gold
There is no doubt that while in Italy, truffles might be one of the most-precious ingredients you can come across. However, as you travel through the Bel Paese, you might also discover that many items can tickle your palate in the most-luxurious way without necessarily being as expensive as truffles.
Every region, province, village or piece of farmland has something special to offer, from the most vibrant produce down south to the most-amazing cheeses on top of the Alps, the fresh, cheap sardines you can buy on the docks in Livorno, and the best (and only) Prosecco in the northeast.
You might argue that hunting for tomatoes is not half as exciting as hunting for truffles, but have you ever scored 2 pounds of ripe San Marzano tomatoes in the middle of August at a roadside stand in Calabria? The moment you bite into that warm fruit you are reminded of your place on Earth!
Continue Reading Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar’s Ingredient Hunting in Italy