The Secret Recipes of Mamma Agata

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I am in love with Mamma Agata.  I have never been to her cooking school on the Amalfi Coast, never met her, have yet to try the amazing recipes in this new book, but her warmth and passion shines through on every page.  I want to make every recipe, and somehow I know this is possible because Mamma Agata says so. 

Every recipe is simple, yet elegant in its own way with the freshest of ingredients.  Mamma’s recipes are traditional such as pizza, gnocchi, meatballs, pasta, fish, and lots of dishes with lemons – my favorite!  When my daughter Kristina visited the Amalfi Coast (twice) she said the whole area has the fragrant air of lemons.  I can’t imagine such bliss!  Mamma’s recipe for lemon cake, “Dolce al Limone,” is the first one I am going to try.  It looks so amazing, that I think I could eat the photo.

There is quite a story behind this luscious lemon cake.  At a young age, Mamma Agata cooked at Villa Civita, which was near the film shooting of a movie starring Humphrey Bogart.   Along with “Bogey” was his wife, Lauren Bacall.   Between movie takes, the couple loved to sit and relax with a good book, and of course enjoy good Italian food.  Mamma made her famous lemon cake for them, and from then on, Bogey would not have any meal without Mamma’s cake.  Since Mamma was so young at the time, he nicknamed her “Baby Agata.”  The Bogarts were not the only celebrities to enjoy Mamma Agata’s cooking.  The list is endless including Jacqueline Kennedy, who impressed Mamma with her “un’eleganza molto simplice,” meaning a simple elegance that was all her own.  Mrs. Kennedy enjoyed watching her son,  John-John,  also devour the famous cake. 
Mamma Agata’s cooking school is known as “The Hidden Treasure.”  The school is situated 1,000 feet above sea level on the Amalfi Coast.  The land where it sits has been in the family for 250 years.  It is a place near the sky and sea at the same time; a place surrounded by flowers with the smell of jasmine in the air.  The Hidden Treasure is known as a place where you can stop and regenerate your spirit and hear your soul singing praises for finding such a place.  And the cooking has yet to begin! 
With this cookbook, you will be able to create the dishes that grace Mamma’s own kitchen.  The book guides you, step-by-step through each recipe, along with tips and recommendations, and even some of Mamma’s “secrets.”  Besides all the lemon recipes that I am crazy about, the tomato recipes and photos are breath-taking.  Look at Mamma’s tomatoes drying in the sun on her balcony!  Is that heavenly or what??
The book is a joy to read, not only for the recipes, but for Mamma’s philosophy of cooking and life.  You feel her love just jump off the pages.  Her daughter, Chiara Lima, describes how the family feels about cooking and the joy of teaching us all how to enjoy life and food.  She says, “We hope you will love your family and friends and leave your problems at the door before you prepare your meals.  Learn to enjoy the wonderful sounds of the tomato sauce bubbling on the stovetop, the splashing of the pasta as it jumps into the pan with the tomato sauce – even imagine the pasta as if it were enjoying the most luxurious bath of its life – then the addition of the fragrant herbs to further enhance your senses! Please remember, life is enhanced by the joy of being together and by sharing a special moment with your loved ones.” 
Thank you, Mamma Agata!  I would love to learn in your kitchen someday.
Bogey says,
“What am I going to do without Baby Agata’s lemon cake??!”


7 Responses to The Secret Recipes of Mamma Agata

  1. January 6, 2011 at 4:35 am #

    Debbie, thank you for your kind words and wonderful review! We are so happy to share our family recipes and bring a smile to your face. I hope some day to meet you at our cooking school!

  2. January 6, 2011 at 9:52 am #

    I am so honored to hear from you, Chiara! Your Mother and her recipes are simply amazing. I, too, hope to meet you someday at Mamma’s cooking school!

  3. February 8, 2011 at 9:40 am #

    great post

  4. December 19, 2011 at 8:39 pm #

    I am originally from Italy and one place I must go when I return for a visit is Mamma Agata school. I love to cook and will definetely get the book! Thank you!

  5. December 19, 2011 at 11:37 pm #

    Can I go with you?!

  6. November 8, 2012 at 11:45 am #

    My husband and I recently attended the Mamma Agata cooking school with Chiara Lima when we were on our honeymoon on the Amalfi Coast. We LOVED the sights, smells, and warmth of her home and surrounding gardens. The cookbook absolutely reflects her passion for well cooked simple food. You must add a trip to her cooking school to your bucket list – it is totally worth it.

  7. November 14, 2012 at 10:09 am #

    Hi normajean! Thank you so much for your input on Mama Agata’s cooking school. I was recently in Italy but could not make it there. 🙁 It is definitely on my list to attend her school someday. I loved Italy so much and can’t wait to get back there! So happy you enjoyed her classes. Thanks for writing!

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