When deciding what to cook at the Garofalo Pasta stand at the Salone del Gusto it made perfect sense that I should bring a little of Britain with me. And what gourmet item did I choose? The good old British banger, that’s what!
The recipe I chose was Creamy Sausage Pasta, from my forthcoming cookbook, which is a real hearty and filling dish just perfect for this time of year in England. The sausages are cut into large bite-sized pieces and are cooked in a large frying pan. Bits of sausage stick to the pan turning sticky and brown and then onions are slowly fried in the same pan, soaking up all that delicious flavour. The pan is then deglazed with cream and stock, which forms the sauce. A touch of thyme and seasoning is added and then it’s mixed in with al dente pasta. It’s a real homely dish, simple and rustic. Rob and I love it but what would my Italian guests make of it?
Before I could find out the event organisers and I first had to work out how we were going to get hold of the right kind of sausages in Turin. At one point there were thoughts of bringing the sausages with us but we would perhaps have had some explaining to do at customs. I feel nervous enough walking through as it is (please tell me I’m not the only one who gets a guilt complex just for being there?); goodness knows how I’d have felt with 30-odd sausages stuffed into my holdall! The ‘sausage situation’ (as it had now become known) was getting critical. But just as I was starting to worry I’d have to start making my own we got word from Turin: we could get sausages at the deli Eataly, hooray!
So, rather large case packed (what to wear, what to wear!) Rob and I took ourselves off to the airport and landed in Turin on Thursday morning. I was very much looking forward to the Salone del Gusto but nervous at the prospect of cooking and talking at it; this was my first time ever cooking at an event. I felt very honoured to have been asked by Garofalo Pasta, along with a few other bloggers from Italy and one from America who also had cooking slots.
On arrival at the hotel we were met by the British organisers of the event and, once checked in, we went along to take a look at the Garofalo stand. It looked fantastic and seeing the kitchen and seating area waiting for guests did nothing to calm my nerves. However, the genuinely lovely people at Garofalo did. I was introduced to the Italian chef who would be helping me with the cooking who was also very lovely but we quickly realised this would be an interesting collaboration given that he could speak no word of English and I none of Italian! Thankfully we had a translator on hand to help us out.
Once we had gone through the recipe and plan for the cooking slot Rob and I went off to take a look around the Salone del Gusto, which you can read about in Part 1.
The following day we all went off to Eataly and met up with one of the Italian organisers from Garofalo to buy the sausages. I was completely blown away by the deli; there was so much choice of good-quality ingredients. Walking around taking it all in I was like a child in a sweetshop. Take a look for yourself:
See what I mean?
The sausage situation was easily sorted out here; we found some huge, plump sausages full of good-quality meat. The day was saved!
I arrived at the stand early to start cooking with the chef so that the guests would have the food as they arrived and I could cook a portion and talk as they ate. It was great fun cooking with the chef and quite amusing when we tried to communicate through fumbled gesturing and pointing at things.
As the guests started to arrive and I was hooked up with a microphone my nerves really started to kick in. Adrenaline rushing I took to the ‘stage’ in the kitchen area and took in the 30 or so guests eating my food as I was introduced. They seemed to be enjoying it…phew! Heart in mouth I started to talk and cook, with the warm and friendly translator by my side bridging the language gap.
Apart from a moment when I realised I had put the onions in the pan before browning the sausages (which I managed to work around without having a total meltdown and letting anyone know something was up) it all seemed to go quite well. There was a great atmosphere and with the applause came people coming up for seconds which, as I’m sure you’ll all agree, is guaranteed to make any cook beam with happiness. What I enjoyed the most was seeing little children tucking into the sausages and pasta, and the greeting and chat I had with the adorable little girl of one of the Italian Garofalo Pasta representatives, bowlful of pasta in hand. ‘Is it good?’ I asked and as she nodded and put another piece of sausage into her mouth my heart melted.