Table Talk with... Susanna Tamaro

Thu, 09/17/2009 - 04:43

Words by Germaine Stafford - Pictures by Vicki Satlow
In this fascinating new series we quiz a selection of Italian celebrities about what tickles their culinary fancy..
Award winning author Susanna Tamaro’s book Luisito’. For more information (and recipes!), visit

Culinary ID

Name: Susanna Tamaro
Profession: Author
Favourite Food: Spaghetti al pomodoro
Favourite wine: Merlot
Dislikes: kidneys, oxtail, pigs’ ears, onion soup
Birthplace: Trieste.

Are you a good cook?

I love cooking unnecessary things like cakes, biscuits, meringues, but having to decide what to make for dinner every day is a nightmare.

What kind of relationship do you have with food?

I really enjoy good food eaten in the company of friends, but I’m not a gourmet in search of extravagant sophistication. And neither am I Obelix, capable of eating enormous quantities.

Do you have any particular memories related to food?

I remember the chocolate cake my grandmother always used to make for my birthday. The recipe is on my website.

What foods do you favour when you’re writing?

When I’m writing, my brain needs easily assimilated sugars, so biscuits with jam, Nutella, brioche.

Can you seduce someone at the dinner table?

I don’t know. I’ve never tried. But there are lots of things that are difficult to do on a full stomach ..

Imagine you’re about to eat your last meal: what would you have?

Vienerschnitzel (breaded veal cutlets) with fried potatoes. No more need to worry about cholesterol.

Do you eat breakfast?

Always. It’s the only meal I never skip ..

What role does food play in your books?

Cuore di Ciccia’, was completely dedicated to the obsessive love of food. In other books, food represents emotional ties, like the cake in ‘Follow Your Heart’. Or illustrates a social setting, like the Brunello di Montalcino in ‘Anima Mundi’.

Foods for moods?

For me bliss is a Mont Blanc, an Italian dessert made with meringues, whipped cream and chestnut purée. Simplicity is absolute perfection. The Society of Psychiatrists has also confirmed it is an excellent way to fight off depression.

Do you ever dream of food?

When I go to bed on an empty stomach I dream of being in a restaurant where the waiters never arrive. Or they bring me empty plates, or plates of things I hate, like onion soup.

How do you keep in shape?

For the past 20 years, I’ve practised martial arts.

Who are your ideal dinner guests?

People who don’t talk politics and don’t speak badly of others. Cheerful, curious people who are good conversationalists.

Can the act of writing be compared to cooking?

Yes, you need to know how to use your ingredients in a balanced way, know when to leave something out, when to add something. Always seeking to improve.

Is there a food quote that you like?

‘Man does not live on bread alone’.