Mangia Mangia – Italian food wisdom


Choc Nut Biscotti 1



Italian migrants have immeasurably enriched Australia and America’s foodie cultures. And by cooking Italian, there’s probably no better way to share enthusiasm for this country if you’ve travelled there. It beats boring the pants off friends with your travel photos.

In Italian, “Mangia! Mangia!” means “Eat! Eat!” You know the helpings at an Italian-inspired table will be generous, kids will be allowed to chatter, and the more you eat the happier your hosts will be. 

I’ve been exploring Mangia! Mangia! Gatherings: The Spirit of Coming Together, the second Italian cookbook written by two lovely Italian-Australian women, who live in Melbourne, and embody the generous spirit of continuing cherished family food and cultural traditions. Food is culture, say cooks Teresa Oates and Angela Villella.

It’s easy to pluck a recipe off the web, but I still believe cookbooks like this one have an invaluable place on our dwindling bookshelves. They bring inspiration to our kitchens. This is where children learn healthy food wisdom which (hopefully!) will stay with them for life.

Food traditions passed on from generation to generation provide a sense of history, belonging and participation, the authors write on their blog. They encourage us all to try and preserve our food cultures.

“Choose your food, and you choose your life”

– Angela and Teresa

The book celebrates home-style Southern Italian food, based on traditional recipes and methods passed down through the generations. The first Mangia! Mangia! was the start of Teresa and Angela’s quest: “To preserve the vibrant food culture of their parents’ native Calabria, and to introduce new generations to the joys of simple, generous cooking with the freshest produce”. They say they’re inspired by “our elders, from our grandparents to our parents, aunts and uncles – those still with us and those who have passed on”.

The cookbooks are “Rescuing our mammas’ traditional unwritten recipes from extinction”.

“Our latest book is about the spirit that drew our families together again after the separation endured by the migrants who came to Australia from Italy in the 1950s and ‘60s. It is also about the wonderful dishes that are served both for celebrations and simple family gatherings – for us, they are equally special. It is a homage to a people, a culture and a type of food that is part of Australia’s social history, for all to remember and enjoy,” they say.

The spirit of coming together to eat Italian
My favourite recipes from their second book: The magical simplicity of Marinated Anchovies combining oregano, green chillies, garlic and olive oil to serve on lots of fresh, crusty bread; Spaghetti con Frutti di Mare which uses calamari, mussels, prawns and pipis; Agnolotti con Spinace e Ricotta showcasing a half-moon shaped pasta which Angela and Teresa call “ravioli on steroids”. A creamy ricotta and spinach filling is matched with a simple tomato salsa to make a light pasta dish. And Choc Nut Biscuits which have been a family favourite for both women for over 40 years.




Choc Nut Biscotti


2 x 70g eggs
1/2 cup (110 g) caster sugar
150 ml pure cream
1/2 cup (50 g) unsweetened, Dutch-process cocoa
65 g unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups (150 g) walnuts, chopped
2 cups (300 g) self-raising flour
1 cup (150 g) plain flour
180 g chocolate icing sugar
If you can’t find chocolate icing sugar, make your own by mixing 160 g pure icing sugar with 20 g unsweetened, Dutch-process cocoa.

Preheat the oven to 180°C fan-forced and line two baking trays with baking paper.

  • Beat the eggs and sugar with hand-held electric beaters until pale and creamy. Add the cream and continue beating to combine, then add the cocoa, melted butter and spices and beat until combined. Using a wooden spoon, fold in the nuts, then the flours, to form a soft dough.
  • Take teaspoonfuls of the dough and roll into balls, then place them on the prepared trays at 3 cm intervals. Bake for 15–20 minutes, then remove from the oven and transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
  • Place the chocolate icing sugar in a bowl and gradually add water, a teaspoonful at a time, stirring until thick but pourable (you’ll need about 1 tablespoon water in total).
  • Dip the top of each biscuit into the icing and return it to the wire rack for the icing to set.
  • These biscuits will keep stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.


I’m giving away a copy of

Mangia! Mangia!  Gatherings:

The spirit of coming together

to one lucky reader. 


All you need to do is leave a comment on this post

or on Taste for Travel’s Facebook page

In four weeks’ time I’ll simply pick a name at random. 

* Mangia! Maniga! Gatherings: The Spirit of Coming Together by Teresa Oates and Angela Villella is published by Lantern, an imprint of Penguin Books Australia, rrp $A39.95

* Read more about Teresa and Angela’s food wisdom on their blog

giveawaylinky Hosted by Kellie O’Brien media

Update: Congratulations to Linda de Angelis of Melbourne who won the copy of Mangia! Mangia! Gatherings: The Spirit of Coming Together. Thanks so much for all the entries and interest. Another fine book giveaway coming up soon!

19 thoughts on “Mangia Mangia – Italian food wisdom

  1. With chilly winds sweeping through our state and blizzards on the mountains, hearty Italian food is delicious and comforting. Will that be enough?


  2. I have always been inspired by the Italian recipes – they’re always hearty and suitable for anything from an intimate dinner to a family gathering. That book sounds amazing!


  3. I am always looking for a new recipe book to add to my collection and as yet i dont have any italian! This would be a wonderful addition! X


  4. Oh this makes me homesick for my childhood! I grew up in a very heavily Italian influenced community. I wanted to be Italian, I wanted someone’s Nonna to be mine… and teach me how to make gnocchi, fettucine, antipasto, sun dried tomatoes and mozzarella! *sigh*

    I did try and hang out at many of friends’ homes on cook up days! 🙂


  5. I’ve been going to my nonna’s “mangia mangia” Sundays for as long as I can remember. Would love this book.


  6. Really enjoyed reading, Thanks. Married to a very traditional Italian man..and being Irish… a lot of comfort food dishes are made in this house. Would love some new ideas. We would never start eating until Nonna said mangia mangia….she would get a great giggle from the book name.


  7. What a beautiful concept for a cookbook – Australia is such an adopted Italian culture bonding over delicious food! What better way to kick off conversation!


  8. Cook books are one of my favourite addictions this would be a very welcome addition the biscuits look delish.


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