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Manuela Zangara Food Writer from Manu’s Menu

Manuela Zangara from Manu's MenuHave  you ever met the Italian kitchen goddess, Manuela Zangara from Manu’s Menu?  She lives in Sydney, Australia and I’ve been drooling over her food for ages.  I follow her on Facebook and Twitter and sometimes the messages are in Italian but her blog is all written in delicious.

Like me she wasn’t born here but she calls Australia home.  She’s lived here for seven years and has only been back to her old home in Milan, Italy once.  I know how that feels.

For me, and judging by Manu’s blog – for her too, the way we keep up with our traditions and fight homesickness is with food.  I asked her if she had “Aussiefied” any of her recipes from back home and she does her best to keep it original.  She doesn’t like to “mess with perfection.”  Okay I laughed out loud when I read that.  Americans have pinched dishes from all over the world so other than pork bbq, hamburgers and Cajun, most everything started out somewhere else.  Same with Australia but NOT so with the Italians.

Orecchiette

Orecchiette

She does have difficulty in sourcing some ingredients so there is a bit of tweaking that must be done and she makes most of her pasta because she can’t get what she wants locally.  One of her favourite pages on her blog is her tutorial on how to make pasta and gnocchi.

Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani

Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani

Manu’s husband is from India and she’s from Italy and they live in Australia.  Now that’s multicultural living.  They lived for several years in Italy and her husband loves Italian food (good thing!).  There are also many Indian dishes that Manu loves to make AND eat.  One of her favourites is Hyderabadi Chicken Biryani.  She wants her daughters to grow up cherishing their Indian and Italian heritage and I’m sure they’ll have a love of an Aussie meat pie too.

“I think food is a very important part of a country’s culture and my girls enjoy their pasta as much as their rice and curry.”  Spoken by a very loving mother.

Salame Cotto

Salame Cotto

What sort of food does an Italian miss most?  Cheese and salumi, especially the local Italian variety.  She explained how the food in Italy is very much linked to the territory and that talking about Italian cuisine is incorrect.  Sicilian food is completely different from food in Lombardy, for instance.  We should all talk about Italian cuisines – with an s.   Manu has a section on her blog that’s dedicated to regional Italian food.

Manu has always loved to cook and after moving to Australia, she’d photograph her food and share it with friends and family around the world through her Facebook page.  In 2011, one of her friends started a blog and suggested that Manu do the same.  It made sense.  She loved to cook and she loved sharing it.  More importantly, she wanted an opportunity to to explain how Italian food is misrepresented outside of Italy.

“It is often not even close to the real thing and for someone who actually loves food and grew up eating certain dishes, it can be irritating. So I decided to mostly blog about authentic Italian cooking, the way it’s done in Italian houses everyday, to help clear up some of these misinterpretations.”

There are many aspects to food blogging from the shopping to prep, cooking, plating, styling, photography and writing.  For Manu, it’s all about the cooking.  When she first began her blog there were many things she was unsure about but not the cooking.  The photography aspect is one that she’s really enjoying and if you look at her food styling, you’ll see that it’s something she’s spent a LOT of time on.

Frittatine alla Parmigiana

Frittatine alla Parmigiana

I asked Manu what satisfaction she gets from having a top blog and not surprisingly she said it was when people left comments, or sent messages or emails after trying her recipes.  That’s something ALL food writers say just makes their day.  Even better when they attach photos.

Another day maker is when she gets a message from Indian readers of her blog who tell her that she’s done a good job on an Indian dish.  She has no trouble with Italian recipes but Indian food isn’t something she learned at her grandmother’s knee.

Cassata Siciliana

Cassata Siciliana

Manu’s advice to new food writers / bloggers is never to think you’re “too new” to do anything.  If you have talent and you like what you do, then you will get noticed.  The cyber world is so big and she is convinced there is space for every one of us.

“The only thing to keep in mind if you want to build up an audience is consistency, frequent posting and good quality content. Also, find your niche. There are many generic food blogs out there, but if you have your own specialty, then you are more likely to be successful. Last but not least, social media: you need to be on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and Instagram!”

When asked for a recipe that really makes her remember home, it was a tough ask.  There are so many recipes that take transport her back to Italy that that choosing just one was painful.  In the end, she chose Pasta con le sarde alla Palermitana, or pasta with sardines, Palermo style.  It reminds her of Sunday lunches with her family and also of her childhood summer holidays in Sicily when she’d visit her grand parents, aunts, uncles and cousins.  This recipe brings back many happy memories, plus it’s scrumptious and healthy.

Pasta con le sarde alla palermitana

Pasta con le sarde alla palermitana

 Pasta con le sarde alla Palermitana

4.5 from 2 reviews
Pasta with sardines Palermo style
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This is a delicious traditional Sicilian dish whose fame is well known all over Italy.
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 500 gms – 1.1 lbs. sardine fillets (cleaned, deboned and halved)
  • 500 gms – 1.1 lbs. sardine fillets (cleaned, deboned and halved)
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 anchovies
  • 2 anchovies
  • 500 gms – 1.1 lbs. fennel tops, boiled and chopped
  • 500 gms – 1.1 lbs. fennel tops, boiled and chopped
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp raisins
  • 1 tbsp raisins
  • 1 pinch saffron, melted in 2 tbsp hot water
  • 1 pinch saffron, melted in 2 tbsp hot water
  • Salt & pepper
  • Salt & pepper
  • 8 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 8 tbsp breadcrumbs
  • 350 gms – 12 oz. Bucatini pasta (or Spaghetti)
Instructions
  1. Start by boiling the fennel tops in hot salty water. When soft, take them out of the water with a slotted spoon and keep them aside. Keep the cooking liquid as you will need it to cook your pasta in. This will enhance the flavour of fennel in the final dish. When the fennel tops have cooled down, chop them up.
  2. Toast the breadcrumbs by putting them in a pan over low fire. Stir constantly so it doesn’t burn. When the breadcrumbs become golden brown, put the fire off and keep aside.
  3. Put the saffron in a little cup with 2 tablespoons of hot water and keep it aside.
  4. Put the raisins in a little hot water to soften up.
  5. Sauté the onion in a pan with the extra virgin olive oil.
  6. When the onion is translucent, add the anchovy fillets, and cut them up with a wooden spoon. Cook on low fire, until the anchovies melt.
  7. Now add the chopped fennel tops and mix well.
  8. Add the sardines, pine nuts, saffron and drained raisins and mix.
  9. Cook on a low fire for 5 minutes, adding a little cooking liquid from the fennel tops if required, then put the fire off and keep the sauce aside.
  10. Cook the Bucatini in the reserved liquid of the fennel leaves (top it up with some more water if needed) following the steps on How to cook pasta “al dente” in the Techniques page of this site, but drain it 1 minute before it is cooked as it will finish cooking together with the sauce.
  11. Put the drained pasta in the frying pan with the sardine and fennel sauce and mix well while cooking it on a slow flame for 1 or 2 minutes, so that the pasta picks up all the flavour of the sauce.
  12. Serve immediately with some toasted breadcrumbs on the top.
Notes
Pasta con le sarde alla Palermitana

If you aren’t already in love with Manusmenu.com please click to visit?  She’s also on Pinterest and Google+ as well as Facebook and Twitter.

Maureen Shaw
Maureen is the owner of OrgasmicChef.com, EasyRecipePlugin.com, Fooderific.com and shares FoodWriterFriday with Helene Dsouza from MasalaHerb.com. She loves to cook and really loves to eat and entertain. She's on a quest to prove there ARE recipes better than sex. She's come close a time or two so she's still searching.
Maureen Shaw
Maureen Shaw
Maureen Shaw

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Maureen Shaw

Maureen is the owner of OrgasmicChef.com, EasyRecipePlugin.com, Fooderific.com and shares FoodWriterFriday with Helene Dsouza from MasalaHerb.com. She loves to cook and really loves to eat and entertain. She's on a quest to prove there ARE recipes better than sex. She's come close a time or two so she's still searching.

12 Comments

  1. Lovely to see Manu here – she was one of my first friends in blogging and so encouraging. Her recipes and photographs are always nothing short of perfection, plus I love how she incorporates detailed step-by-step details. One look at her dishes and you can’t help feeling inspired to travel to Italy – or Australia to meet her!

    • I know what you mean, Jill. I feel the same way about both of you! I’m probably more likely to meet Manu than you since we’re on the same continent but you never know!

  2. I am still looking forward to meet Manu and her Indian husband. =) I know how she feels, getting back home isn’t easy, especially if your family is multicultural. I miss salami too and good cheese, god that’s a luxury that I never valued before I left Europe.

    Manu I remember your boiled salami very well from your blog, yet I haven’t had the chance to try it out, but it’s in my recipe box.

    Yes getting a message from an Indian reader saying how much they enjoyed an Indian recipe is always my highlight too. One can’t imagine how much it means! Indian food is quite tricky but so delicious!

  3. Love reading Manu’s blogs, have cooked some of her recipes… they are delicious… and the images mouthwatering. Great interview, Maureen. Hi Manu!!!

  4. I agree that feedback on my blog is one of my favorite things about doing it. Her dishes look so good, I could eat pasta every day but have never made my own.

    • Rhonda, Manu has a few great pasta recipes. So worthwhile to make your own pasta from scratch and it’s not that difficult at the end. =)

  5. Thanks for introducing me to Manu! Another terrific blogger to follow. 😉 Really informative interview – thanks for this. And Pasta con le sarde is such a terrific dish – one of my favorite Sicilian recipes. Really excellent interview – thanks.

    • You didn’t know Manu John? Good god it was about time that you discovered her blog. 😉

  6. Thank you so much for having me over Maureen and Helene! It was a great honour to be interviewed by you and being put among such talented bloggers!! I really appreciate it! 🙂

    Ohhh Helene… I used to take cheese for granted too… not any more! 🙂

    Love you ladies!

  7. Manu was one of the first bloggers that I met when I started blogger. I love her, her blog, and her food is amazing! Her desserts and treats make me envious of her kids. I would love to have grown up in her kitchen. 🙂 Great interview Maureen and so nice to learn more about you Manu!

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