French food has never been so Italian.
Big Mamma has swept France in the way that no restaurant empire in recent memory has. Each of the 13 locations (nine of which are in Paris) has established itself as a success, assembling lines of people waiting to get in that wrap around the block for each meal service. Founded by Victor Lugger and Tigrane Seydoux, Big Mamma serves an Italian cuisine that is contemporary, affordable, and made by a team of real Italians.
To keep the big love going at home, the team published its first cookbook, Big Mamma Cucina Popolare: Contemporary Italian Recipes (Phaidon, January 12, 2020). The book, which features 130 recipes, “was written with the intention of revealing some of the best-kept secrets of our team, our dishes, our chefs,” notes the introduction.
Indeed, expect recipes for favorite menu items like “big lasagna” and tiramisu, plus creations like “insane insalata,” “baby pizza,” and “crispy chicken alla parmigiana.” The instructions are easy enough to read, but some details take getting used to. For example, at the top of each recipe the length of time involved is listed, broken down into preparation time, cooking time, and sometimes something like resting time, or chilling time. Preparation time is, in fact, anything that happens that doesn’t involve heat; cooking time the inverse. To determine the full amount of time it will take to cook something, you can’t simply at the times, because, with something like chocolate mousse, you can bake the hazelnut topping while the mousse chills.
Measurements are listed in European and American units. A selection of icons indicate whether the recipe is dairy-free, gluten-free, one-pot, vegan, vegetarian, 30 minutes or less, or 5 ingredients or less. Throughout the book, there are page-long lessons (“cool to know” tips) on how to make gnocchi and pasta.
This cookbook is good for anyone who got that taste of Big Mamma food and just can’t get enough. You may not be cooking French food, but it’s an Italian taste of Paris that gets the job done.
Buy Big Mamma Cucina Popolare: Contemporary Italian Recipes on Amazon here.