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Alessa Bertoluzzi

Co-Author of: Carolina HeartStrings

Home Base: South Carolina, USA

Interests: Food

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Hey y’all!  I am excited to be contributing to Cooking With Nonna as your Italian-American southern connection.  I actually grew up in New Jersey so the “y’all” has come from 25 odd years of living in the South, raising Southern children

and soaking up all that I love here.  As the South Carolina co-blogger at Carolina HeartStrings I write with my best friend Tammie (in North Carolina) about Carolinas’ food, travel and history and some family tid-bits from time to time.

I regularly post both Tammie’s and my recipes on this site.  But for blogging purposes I hope to bring you a peek at what being an Italian-American means to me and my family and a little personal family history.  I also plan to blog about events, festivals and locations that I encounter that celebrate Italian food and heritage.  

So what does Southern cuisine have in common with Italian cuisine?  I believe Southerners and Italians are the most passionate cooks on earth!  What brings families together more than food?  Whether it’s a weeknight meal opportunity to catch up on the day’s news, a Sunday gathering when you see a few extra of your local loved ones or a celebration/holiday meal where extended family travels home – all of these give us the opportunity to connect and form memories for a lifetime.  

Southern food and Italian food is COMFORT food.  “Comfort” implies an emotional need being met and I believe that the foods associated with Southern and Italian cooking definitely have an emotional element.  There is a feeling of indulging when great food is heaped on your plate.  There is a sentimental tug at your heartstrings when you eat a dish that came from your Nonna’s (or Grannie’s) recipe.  The easy to eat Southern and Italian foods combine taste and sentiment making food more than mere sustenance.  

Southerners and Italians both value what older generations have to offer and have a respect for hardships of the past. Both of my parents taught me the importance of being frugal.  My father, son of Italian immigrants grew up in the depression.  After moving from the Bronx to suburban New Jersey they supplemented their grocery needs by growing some vegetables and raising chickens.  Nothing was wasted.  My mother, a Brit, grew up in wartime England with rations until the 1950’s.  She also used ingredients sparingly.  These are just some of the lessons that they passed on to me.

On a personal note, let me add that I have two children, one of whom is autistic.  I have a wonderful born-and-raised Southern boyfriend who is an avid shrimper and keeps us stocked with shrimp.  I own an auto repair business and have been in automotive since 1990.  So believe me coming home and doing something creative and tasty in the kitchen is a very enjoyable change from being at the shop!   Come visit us at to see more of how we live in the Carolinas and drop us a comment!  We love to make new friends!



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