My dear mother, Gigi Firenze passed away in 2018 at the age of 99 and 6 months. I wrote this article the year before she died and was active and living alone Even though I titled this article “Cooking with Gigi” – I was usually just the clean up person. She loved cooking. It was a major part of her life and she was quite critical of almost everyone else’s cooking.
Written recipes were rare in my family. In fact, my mother had an apron that read: “Recipe, what recipe? I’m Italian.” It was a gift from her great-grandchildren and while we often laughed . . . it was true. It was always quite difficult to get the exact amount of an ingredient for a recipe from Gigi or any Italian grandmother. So, to translate what she did into a recipe with proper proportions was quite difficult and amusing. One thing we knew, every recipe includes olive oil.
Here was a typical conversation:
- How many eggs? – “It depends on the size of the eggs.”
- What kind of wine? – “Whatever you have opened.”
- How much salt? – “A pinch or maybe more than a pinch.”
- How much flour? – “The weather is too damp to say.”
- How much olive oil? “Enough to cover the bottom of the pan. . .and a bit more.”
It seems as if there was always a caveat; you could never get an actual recipe. It was quite difficult to get the recipe for Gigi’s Favorite Chicken.
My mother always said, “Cooking is an art, baking is a science so you’re more precise with baking.” However, even when she was making her famous Gigi’s Olive Oil Biscotti, there are not exact scientific measurements.
And here are photos of Gigi at age 98.