1. Think Italian
Throw conventions overboard, go with the gut feeling. Create chaos where there is order and order where chaos reigns. You are going to reconcile improvisation with precision, sensitivity with decisiveness, consideration and roughness. Be Italian. Believe in yourself, and preferably very much so. Your task is not just cooking, it is a mission. Making people happy, charm, enchant, sprinkle stardust.
2. Get rid of half the ingredients the recipe asks for
Less is more. Better leave something out than going through trouble procuring it. Don’t even think about substituting an ingredient. You are going to create food, not repeating what someone did before. Seriously!
3. Keep the olive oil nearby
Most ingredients acquire a southern taste simply by bringing them in contact with olive oil. Salads shines, vegetables glow and fish flashes with a little olive oil. South Italian cooking runs on it. Chararcteristic and healthy, there is no danger except, maybe, a moderate addiction.
4. Eat before cooking
Make sure you are not hungry when you start cooking. A full stomach helps you to moderate with ingredients. Much more than avoiding copious tasting, it is helpfull in keeping preparations simple. And concentrate on taste more than quantity. Subsequently, keep your drinking down while cooking. Alcohol often leads to exaggeration. Just what you must avoid.
5. Keep a bottle of ‘amaro’ in the freezer
Served at the end of a meal, even after coffee (it is sometimes called ‘ammazza café’ or coffee killer), it cancels the last possible residue of critics. It tends to blur out what came before and especially what comes after. If you can’t get hold of ‘amaro‘, get a bottle of ‘limoncello’: a balance of alcohol, sugar and lemon zest. Bright yellow it looks like a cough syrup and tastes like it.