Part epicurean travel memoir, part cookbook, the author writes about her traditional Italian upbringing and the choices she made for her life after witnessing the roles of the women in her family. Searching for adventures to feed her soul outside of wife, mother and cook, her advertising sales career brings her around the globe where she experiences multiple cultures, world class food and becomes an adventurous epicure. It wasn’t until her mother was diagnosed with dementia in 2006 and her father was lovingly transitioning into becoming the primary caretaker, that the author realized she never learned to cook the homemade Italian food with which she was raised. With a sense of urgency, she pursued writing them down before they would be lost forever. Following the memoir, the author provides the mouthwatering recipes that her mother prepared for her family for over 50 years, including holiday specialties and the final section entitled, "Living with Memory Loss of a Loved One" although the smallest section of the book, is the most important as it speaks about the decisions the author's father had to make around the care of her mom, much like what many caretakers of Alzheimer's patients must do as the disease progresses. It also highlights the statistics on this epidemic that is raging our nation. “Recipes to Remember” is a heartwarming journey around the globe in search of what the author yearns for, only to return home to find it, it raises awareness around this devastating disease and suggests the importance of preserving family recipes that connect one with their roots and traditions. A portion of all profits will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association.
I was raised in a traditional Italian Catholic family in the suburbs of NYC and my childhood was filled with an abundance of homemade fresh Italian food. I remember numerous Sundays and holidays visiting my paternal grandparents who lived in the Parkchester area of the Bronx in a very small 2-bedroom apartment – the same apartment in which my father was raised – for a seven course meal that lasted for hours. I couldn’t wait to touch the fresh made pasta they had prepared from scratch early that morning that was laid out on sheets on their double bed drying, before the rest of the family arrived. I recall how the noise level increased as my relatives made their entrance. Commotion followed as coats were unzipped, hats and glove were taken off and stored on the bed in the second bedroom as the apartment grew more and more crowded. The room was filled with noisy kisses and I remember receiving hard pinches on my cheeks and tight hugs from aunts, uncles and cousins I had not seen for a while. The living room also doubled as the dining room and had a long table set up that was composed of smaller “card tables” extended to it, so all 18 of us could sit around it. As the meal began and everyone found their place at the table, my grandfather would fill everyone’s glass with Chianti from the large straw bottle he would keep on the floor beside him to monitor the alcohol consumption as each course was served. The minors were served half Chianti/half ginger ale and so my introduction to alcohol began. With these regular family events, I never felt hungry for food or affection while growing up. Although I loved being Italian and the wonderful food that entailed, as the years went on I dreamed of a different adventure. I deeply desired to explore the world outside these long, drawn out, family get-togethers where eating (and shouting) was the primary focus. I went away to college to pursue my academic and creative interests. I didn't plan on spending my adulthood in the kitchen preparing meals for my future husband and children so culinary education was not among my yearnings. I especially didn't want to develop a round figure like many of my relatives had or the varicose veins that popped out of their legs - a result of standing in a hot kitchen for hours, stirring, tasting and adding pinches of whatever was missing. I wanted a college education and a career that enabled me to meet many different types of people. Most importantly I recall, I wanted an identity outside the traditional role of spending hours in the kitchen and raising a family. I wanted to travel and explore the world, learn yoga and study Buddhism, throw clay on a wheel and make ceramic pots, ski the Sierra Nevadas and learn to scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef. Over a twenty five year period, this and more, is exactly what I did.
Barbara Magro, M.A., was born and raised in a traditional Italian family in the suburbs of New York City. A graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder, she began her career as a media professional in Los Angeles. She has worked in advertising sales for premier food and travel magazines in the United States and Australia, including Condé Nast Traveler and Bride's magazine in Hawaii, Australian Gourmet Traveller and The Australian Gourmet Traveller Wine Magazine in Sydney, Gourmet in New York and Travel Agent magazine and Luxury Travel Advisor in South Florida. She received her MA in Professional Writing from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia and has published several travel articles. This is her first book. She resides in Boca Raton, Florida, with her dog, Holly.