Other people's pantries. Q&A with Myriam Sabolla
The life and pantry of a cook and professional organiser in Milan | A recipe for the Ligurian farinata | Myriam's preserved lemons
Other people’s pantries is a series of Q&A with a focus on pantries as a privileged way to get into people’s lives, cooking styles, and favourite recipes.
Read here the first Q&A with Vea Carpi from Mas del Saro, a mountain farmer and a cook who lives in the Italian Alps.
And here is the interview with Enrica Monzani, a friend and colleague who gives cooking classes and food tours in Genoa, and you know you don’t want to miss the opportunity to learn to make basil pesto from her.
Today I’m sharing the conversation I had with Myriam Sabolla, a friend, a communication strategist, a food coach and a keen cook. I’m very excited about this conversation with Myriam because she is one of the Italian women I want to have here. We’re far from the classic stereotype: Myriam is modern, curious, open-minded, and a professional cook. She created her own business approaching food in a new, fresh way. One of my goals with this series of Q&A is to show, not only to Italy but also to all you who read us from abroad, what Italian women are made of. That’s the Italy I’m proud of.
Find Myriam on Instagram: @the_food_sister and on her web site: The Food Sister Listen to our conversation here about why Milan is the city to visit in Italy: Episode 1x26 – Milan, foodie tips to explore the city, with Myriam Sabolla
And now, to the interview with Myriam.
Part of our conversation is paywalled, and the subscribers will find Myriam’s recipes for Ligurian farinata and for one of her pantry staples, preserved lemons.
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Ciao Myriam, can you briefly introduce yourself?
Hi, my name is Myriam and I live in Milan with my 2 daughters, my husband and my ginger cat. I am a food writer, a creator, a cook and a professional organizer. My job is basically helping people who want to cook better and with a no-fuss approach. We all live busy and stressful lives and too often cooking becomes a burden, the umpteenth task in our daily to-do list. My goal is to help people - who are often busy, working parents like myself - rediscover the joy in cooking. Everybody has a right to cook and eat delicious food, even if they are on a tight schedule or don't have much cooking experience! Organization is the key, and by organization I don't mean dull, rigid rules, but tools that can improve the quality of our life and help us find our balance.
With this mission in mind, in 2018 I graduated from the Joia Academy - the most important vegetarian cooking school in Italy, I qualified as a certified professional organizer, and I then founded my business that I named "The Food Sister" (and this is the name you can find me by on the web and social media): I try and achieve this goal of mine via online classes (on fermentation, bread and focaccia baking, vegan cooking and organization in the kitchen), one on one consultancy (both in-person and online) and the contents I publish in my books, website and social media.
You are a professional organizer. How does this influence your relationship with your pantry?
You may be tempted to think that I have one of those perfectly tidy pantries you see on Instagram and Pinterest, but the truth is quite different. I find that kind of pantries quite unrealistic for a heavy cooker in fact :) So I have a pantry that takes all the room needed for someone who likes experimenting with spices, cereals, beans (which are the foundation of my cooking). Not a minimalist one, but still I try to avoid stocking too much as I try to avoid food waste as much as I can.
Can you share with us two tips to keep your pantry organized?
The first one is to declutter at least twice a year. The goal is to get rid of everything that is no longer good to eat, to help prevent pest infestation, and to become aware of what we actually use. After emptying out everything, just sort all the content and keep only the things you are actually going to use. Discard what's not anymore edible and donate what's still good but for any reason, you are not going to eat.
The second tip is to divide the content of your pantry by some kind of criteria: this is the tricky part, as it is you and only you that know how to classify your food. Try to use broad categories as too much of a strict taxonomy will not help keep your things in order. Be open to changing your mind, if necessary. Try putting all the similar items in containers - such as plastic boxes that are handy and easy to use.
Do you have tips to keep your pantry organized? So, share them in the comment with us!
How do your travels influence your pantry?
They have much influence on my pantry as food is basically the only souvenir I usually take home from a trip. I stock up on spices, dried fruits, unusual condiments... and anything that can be tightly packed in a hand luggage (I spilled a precious soy sauce in my bag once, though, and that was not an experience I'd recommend!).
Which is your must-have pantry ingredient?
There are so many things you can do with a can of chickpeas! Roast them with spices, make a quick pasta e ceci, toss them in a simple salad, blitz them with tahini and lemon for my beloved hummus, or eat them as they are, as a snack!
Tell us about your latest cookbook, Mangia Bene, Lavora Meglio. Has an organized pantry a role in eating well and working better?
I published my book last year, after the first and strict lockdown, and still during hard pandemic times: a time when everybody had been forced to work from home. This has meant for many people adding a chore to their daily work: that of cooking their own lunches, and often their family's and children's too! In my book, I have gathered resources to help remote workers incorporate good, nutritious food into their working days. I give advice on time management and share information on how eating better helps productivity and eases the stress from overwork.
I also give cooking tips to save time, ideas for organizing the pantry and kitchen spaces, and of course recipes (all plant-based and straightforward). Yiu can find Myriam’s book here [*aff link].
I am currently working on a new book, which will focus on weekly, plant-based menus for the whole family, which will be out in October 2022! I am very excited (and quite stressed :) ).
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