When hosting parties, many people get heart palpitations over making sure everything is just right. But help is here: Lidia Bastianich has a new cookbook coming out, and she took a few moments to speak with PW to explain the key to celebrating well: keep it fresh, keep it simple. Miami Book Fair attendees can also learn at her knee when she visits the Kitchen Stadium, to talk about her latest cookbook, named (appropriately enough) Lidia’s Celebrate Like an Italian: 220 Foolproof Recipes That Make Every Meal a Party, written with her daughter, Tanya Bastianich Manuali.
This book is all about celebrating with food. Why do you think Italians do that so well?
It’s in the nature of Italians to live life with a positive tone and to celebrate the invitations that come along in life. Italian food is so conducive to all of that.
What’s the key to a good party?
Match the right food to the right occasion. Think about what you are celebrating. If you are honoring people, what are their favorite foods? If it is a holiday, what is the food for it? When you give an identity to the party, people appreciate that.
How do you keep from getting stressed out?
Simplicity in preparation is the Italian way. Make easy dishes, and then you can elaborate the final preparation by decorating with vegetables or herbs, or adding a dash of olive oil. Pump up the magnitude by adding truffle oil at the end. For example, you can make a simple risotto with onions, and then shave on truffles. The deliciousness of the aroma of the truffles heightens the anticipation. There is a build to it, such as when you listen to a symphony: there is a crescendo, and then the whole orchestra comes in.
I’m sure many people are envious of the way you work with your children. Most families wouldn’t survive! What advice do you have for family harmony when you are in business together?
It’s important to let children fly on their own. I understood that they needed to create their own life and not be my shadow. Let them make their own decisions, and support them along the way. I was honored when my children came back. I would not have grown as fast as I did had I not listened to their ideas.