In 1961, at age 23, Elisa Costantini left her native Abruzzo in Italy for Philadelphia, bringing with her a slew of family recipes representative of traditional Italian cuisine. Over 50 years later, after raising three children with her late husband, Francesco, Costantini has compiled her signature dishes in her new self-published cookbook, Italian Moms: Spreading Their Art to Every Table.
"I never remember when I wasn't [a] cook," Costantini says, her Italian accent still hearty and warm. She reminisces about her childhood often, recalling her Aunt Ida allowing her to help prepare secret family recipes in the kitchen before Costantini was even tall enough to reach the countertop. Her cookbook is a combination of recipes, anecdotal interludes and pictures of her scrumptious dishes, which range from breads to sauces to desserts, all found in small-town Italy.