WESTERLY — Jacques Pépin called the cookbook "Heirloom Kitchen" "a stunning book which delves deeply into the rich cooking traditions of immigrant women and the immense legacy they have left on the American palate and food customs."
Tonight, the book's author, Anna Francese Gass, who has been featured on the Food Network and in the Washington Post, returns to Westerly tonight for a book talk and signing at the Westerly Library. Gass was kind enough to take time from her book tour to answer a few questions ahead of tonight's special event.
Q: Where were you born?
A: I was born in Calabria, Italy. My father was born and raised in Westerly and my mother is an Italian immigrant from Acri. I came to Westerly when I was one year old and lived here until heading off to college.
Q: Where did you go to school?
A: I attended Westerly public schools and graduated from Westerly High School.
Q: What inspired you to write "Heirloom Kitchen"?
A: My mother is a very skilled cook and made delicious meals for my family for my entire life. I realized, five years ago, that we did not have any of her cherished recipes written down. I began shadowing my mother in the kitchen on Sundays to get all of the family recipes written down. I then began cooking with immigrant women all over the country to get their recipes written down for their families. "Heirloom Kitchen" was born out of the recipes of 40 women from 35 different countries, all immigrants here in America. It all started however, with my mother’s meatballs!
Q: What do you plan to talk about tonight?
A: How the book came to be and what the past five years of my life has been, learning the stories and recipes of all these dynamic, strong women who came to the United States for a better life for themselves and their families, just like my mother.
Q: Advice for cooks?
Get into the kitchen with your beloved family members and make sure all the recipes are written down. Family recipes are heirlooms that should never be lost!