Interviewing Giada De Laurentiis about Cooking, Motherhood

by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

My family and friends know that I’m not one to cook. I have an envelope full of recipes my grandma hand-wrote sitting in my desk drawer, and I have plenty of cookbooks that once belonged to my mom, but I hardly ever open them.

Given my extensive background in cooking, one of my editors asked if I would write a story about Giada De Laurentiis. The Food Network star just came out with her fourth cookbook, Giada’s Kitchen, which features Italian dishes and desserts. Though I don’t cook, I was happy to have the opportunity to interview De Laurentiis, who is signing copies of her book this weekend in Dallas.

During the interview, De Laurentiis talked a lot about her six-month-old baby, Jade, and the communal nature of cooking. She encourages moms to cook with their kids and even has a “(Not) Just for Kids” section in her new cookbook.

I often associate cooking with motherhood, but I’ve been starting to think about it more in terms of friendship. Since moving to Texas, I’ve started to cook a little bit more with friends. (I say “a little bit” because I’ve probably cooked a total of three meals while in Texas, unless you count throwing together a salad or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.)

It can be tough to cook when you live by yourself, especially after a long day of work. Some people say cooking relaxes them at night, but I’ve never found that to be true. One of my goals when I return to Florida, though, is to start cooking for myself more. I’ve said I’m going to start cooking for myself for years, but I figure it might actually happen if I commit my goal to writing. Maybe it’s a matter of making a couple of meals on a Sunday and then storing them up for the week, or maybe I’ll find that cooking at night actually is relaxing, especially if I can do it with friends.

I flipped through De Laurentiis’s cookbook tonight and came across some meals I think I’ll try. The whole wheat linguine with green beans, ricotta and lemon; eggplant timbale; orzo stuffed peppers; fusilli alla caprese; and the hazelnut crunch cake with mascarpone and chocolate look especially good. Maybe if I keep looking at her cookbook, I’ll feel more motivated to follow the recipes and find my place in the kitchen. Here’s to hoping!

How do you motivate yourself to cook?