Welcome to the very first Foodie Tuesday here at Ad Alta Voce. From here on out, Tuesdays will celebrate all things food-related, including (but not limited to!) recipes, restaurants, markets and specialty stores, chefs and food personalities, cooking shows, and perhaps even the occasional guest post.
Since my own wedding is only about a month away, it seems fitting to begin Foodie Tuesdays with a post about a happily married pair of food-lovers: actress Debi Mazar and musician/buon gustaio Gabriele Corcos, hosts of the Cooking Channel’s new series, “Extra Virgin.” With no small amount of playful banter and genuine affection, Debi and Gabriele spend each episode creating rustic, Tuscan-inspired meals for their children, friends, and each other.
Given my affinity for smart, lippy dames and 1940s-inspired attire, it’s no surprise that I am a wee bit smitten with the tart-tongued Debi Mazar. Pairing vintage elegance with a Queens accent, Debi is both fabulous and down-to-earth. Sure, she hangs out with Madonna and attends Hollywood premieres, but she’s also a relatable working mother. Debi’s love of at-home entertaining is rooted in practicality: “…if we go out to dinner, then it means we’ll probably also go to the movies. And between dinner and the movies and getting a babysitter, it’s about $400 for the night. So we have people over for a great meal. It’s been our way of having a social life.”
It’s fitting, then, that Debi married Gabriele, who hails from the olive-growing countryside of Fiesole, in Tuscany. He describes himself as “a very hungry guy” who “cook(s) to feed my kids right, and to possibly get laid at least twice a week…to keep traditions alive, and because my kitchen is the warmest place in my house…” Gabriele is quintessentially Italian: he not only understands how to cook and eat well, he understands why doing so is of the utmost importance.
There are lots of good reasons to watch “Extra Virgin.” The recipes are back-to-basics Italian soul food, eschewing esoteric ingredients and complicated techniques in favor of wholesome, seasonal flavors. And it’s fun to live vicariously through Debi and Gabriele, whether they’re raising chickens in their Los Angeles backyard or grilling porterhouses in their Tuscan kitchen.
The best reason to tune in to “Extra Virgin,” though, is to be reminded that the main ingredients for la dolce vita—the sweet life—are simple and readily available. We just need a kitchen, a sense of humor, and most of all, the people we love. Buon appetito!
“Extra Virgin” airs on The Cooking Channel every Wednesday at 10:30 pm ET.