Ciao, my name is Rosetta Costantino.
I was born and raised in Verbicaro, a small wine-producing hill town in Calabria, at the southern tip of the Italian peninsula.
My parents shaped my connection to food and the land. My father was a master cheesemaker and winemaker, tending our family’s olive groves, vineyards and farm where we also kept goats and sheep. Almost all our food came from our property or the nearby Mediterranean. My mother and grandmothers knew how to live from the land, how to grow vegetables and preserve them for the winter months, and how to make bread and friselle from scratch. They knew how to make pasta with only flour and water and shape it every which way, even rolling it around a knitting needle to make the famous Calabrian fusilli.
As a child, I learned from them. I took wheat to the mill, returning home coated from head to toe in white flour. I watched them press olives into oil, and inserted strips of tomatoes into the glass bottles we used to preserve them.
My parents and I moved to the San Francisco Bay Area when I was 14 years old. We quickly settled into the faster pace of life here but always kept our cooking traditions. We still grow our own produce, make our own ricotta and cure our own salsiccia calabrese. Cooking remained a large part of my life in high school, during my college years at the University of California, Berkeley, and throughout my successful career as a chemical engineer.