Words by Pat Eggleton
Meet Rowena, a trained cook and baker who is “seizing the days in the Province of Lecco”.
Rowena, where are you from?
From the island of Kauai in the state of Hawaii.
When and why did you move to Italy?
I moved here exactly seven years ago (more or less), as I was to be married to my husband (Italian) who lived in Torino. In a few days it will be our seventh wedding anniversary. We made it!!!
Happy anniversary! Did it take you long to settle?
It took me 3 years as I was still flying back to Hawaii every year to work during the busy holiday season. This left me in a state of being “half there” and “half in Italy” – not good.
Can you tell us about where you live?
I live in a little village in the high mountains that surrounds the province of Lecco. It is a very rural lifestyle which I enjoy immensely as it gives me the opportunity to cultivate a small garden.
What do you love about where you live and is there anything that drives you crazy?
I love that it is cooler than most places during the summer months. It is also very peaceful and quiet, with only the sound of birds during the day. Weekends, however, become a bit noisier as city dwellers escape here for the weekends.
What do you miss about the USA?
At this point I no longer miss anything….I simply look forward to the experiences (family, friends, shopping, etc) even more when I do get the chance to go back for a visit.
Do you speak Italian?
In the home, no. Outside of the home, yes, but not fluently. I still take online Italian lessons but as I do not interact often with people given my location, I don’t have the opportunity to speak it much. I read it much better since I initially started learning the language by reading Italian cooking magazines. My mother-in-law was impressed.
Have any of your tastes - culinary or cultural - changed since you came to live in Italy?
My culinary tastes had to, but I had no problem with that! Given the fact that what’s available here is certainly not easily available in Hawaii, it was a whole new world to taste and explore. As far as culture is concerned, let’s just say that I’m still an American but with an Italian heart and spirit.
When and why did you start blogging?
I started blogging about a year after I moved here. It was purely for entertainment purposes since I had taken an interest in my husband’s type of work. He’s a computer programmer. Understanding html, script and all that stuff was good exercise for the brain!
Your blog is mainly, but not exclusively, about food. Did you have any training in the food industry?
I trained as both a cook and baker, and have worked in the food/restaurant industry for over fifteen years.
Do you test all the recipes you give yourself?
Oh yes I do. And with a willing “guinea pig” of a husband, it makes my experiments that much more fun.
Do you have any training in photography? The food pictures you publish are of high quality.
Purely self-taught. I’ve been taking photos since I was in high school so thank goodness I learned something along the way!
Of all the recipes you’ve published do you have any favourites?
I don’t have any favorites, but I can tell you that the one that gets viewed the most is not Italian, but rather a Puerto Rican/Hawaiian dish called patele stew. I don’t believe it is an original recipe from Puerto Rico, but something that was created by the immigrants that moved to Hawaii.
What has blogging given you?
The chance to view and reach out to the world more than I ever thought possible. I still consider it a form of amusement, but now I write with a purpose instead of messing around with silly script.
All your blog posts are interesting but can you recommend one or two especially for Italy Magazine readers?
My greatest passions in Italy (apart from my husband and dogs) are two: hiking and sagre/food festivals. Italians are downright pros when it comes to celebrating anything under the sun. Food, saints, soap box rallies, animal races, you name it, there’s something going on all through the year. I am going to recommend two that have recently been linked by other blogs:
Il Cacio al Fuso (a game of rolling a round of cheese toward a stick)
Festa dei Serpari (festival of the snake charmers)
I agree with you about the sagre! Happy blogging, Rowena and thank you for talking to Italy Magazine.