You’ve probably heard the old saying, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” The premise is simple—take a sour situation and make the best of it.
But what about when life gives you a gluten intolerance and many of your ancestral Italian favorites are suddenly off limits? Even nonna’s lasagna? For longtime friends and Wellesley resident Cynthia Delia Coddington, and Jo Provenzano Hoppe of Bridgton, Maine, the answer was anything but simple. But it came in time, in the shape of a cookbook co-authored by the pair.
Their book, Senza Glutine: Timeless Italian Dishes for the Gluten Free Palate, released in late December, is currently available for sale at Wellesley Books and other selected local bookstores, and on Amazon. With the completion of Senza Glutine, a health crisis that started out lemons led Cynthia and Jo on a path to la dolce vita.
The project began as a creative outlet during COVID, Cynthia and Jo took a six-week online course on food writing and publishing. Their mission: to take the many recipes handed down to each of them from their Italian relatives and coalesce them into a beautiful cookbook that would keep family culinary traditions alive. Their challenge: to adapt every one of those ancestral recipes to suit a gluten-free lifestyle.
Cynthia remembers well the day her doctor told her to cut out gluten, a protein commonly found in breads, pasta, pizza, and cereal. Her incredulous response was, “You don’t get it. I’m Italian. We eat wheat.”
Jo Provenzano Hoppe had a similar reaction when she learned she had celiac disease, also an autoimmune disorder.
Since those individual diagnoses over ten years ago, the two became friends more recently when Jo and her husband made a retirement move to Bridgton, Maine, a bucolic area with lakes, a ski resort, and plenty of hiking trails. Cindy and her family had a vacation home nearby. The two soon met and discovered their shared Italian ancestry and love of cooking and eating, as well as their gluten intolerance. Thus began what Cynthia calls, “an unbelievable friendship and an incredible project.”
The book contains over 100 beautifully photographed recipes, illustrated techniques, and information on how to source the best gluten-free products. While all the recipes were developed for those with gluten sensitivities, the end product is really for everybody around your table. Cindy and Jo’s tagline is, “Liberate yourself from the bondage of gluten intolerance.” Take it literally. This book is for any home cook who has been making two meals—one for family members who can eat gluten, and one for family members who can’t. Liberate yourself from the cleaning bondage of cooking with two pots, two skillets, two lasagna pans. You may have six burners on that stove in your fancy Wellesley kitchen, but that doesn’t mean you want to use them all every night. Using the recipes in Senza Glutine, everyone can eat the same thing at mealtimes, with no compromising on taste or texture for anyone.
“The hardest thing to get right was pizza crust,” Cindy said. “Baked goods basically are the hardest because you have to replace the flour. We had to get familiar with what finely ground means, what coarsely ground means, and how the texture will affect the recipe. You never stop learning.”
The seven major chapters of Senza Glutine include The Gluten Free Pantry; Antipasti (appetizers); Primi (first courses); Secondi (main courses); Contorni (sides); Salse (sauces); and Dolci (desserts).
Recipes we’re hoping to try soon—arancini (rice balls); baked clams oreganata; chicken marsala; roasted eggplant lasagna; panna cotta; biscotti; pizza. This list should keep us busy in the kitchen for the rest of the winter.
COOKBOOK: Senza Glutine: Timeless Italian Dishes for the Gluten Free Palate
AUTHORS: Josephine Hoppe and Cynthia Coddington
PUBLICATION DATE: December 26, 2022
BUY: Available at Wellesley Books and other selected local bookstores, and on Amazon
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