Hello! My name is Marta, I’m an Italian-American living in Cambridge Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. I’m a lecturer by day and a blogger by night. I’ve been meaning to start this blog for years now, as a way of sharing what I learn about how food in all its aspects can make us happy. After recently chatting at a conference with Lillian Yang, from Food non-fiction podcast, I knew I wanted to start this blog more than ever. So I sat down, sketched out a plan, and that’s how this blog was born.

While I am behind every post, I couldn’t do this without the help of my amazing partner fiancé husband Danny, who helps out with taking stunning pictures and patiently waits for his food to get cold while I Instagram it.

me and Danny

Why My talisman of happiness?

As a little girl, I remember going to visit my nonna in the afternoon for merenda. She would make the most delicious and tasty snack out of basically nothing: bread, butter, sprinkled sugar, and some cinnamon. For years, I observed her pin roll dough, cut fresh pasta, baste Sunday roasts, hand mash potatoes (leaving tiny bits which I loved and only years later discovered they were a mistake), bake cakes, layer lasagne, fry eggs, and the list could go on. And while she knew every recipe by heart, she still liked to take out her favourite cookbook, Il Talismano della Felicità (or The Talisman of Happiness, one of holy grails of Italian cuisine cookbooks), and flick through the consumed pages. It was a wedding gift from 1938, that had seen a woman steal some of its pages during World War II. The book is now a precious keepsake in our family.

 hanging teatowels

When I turned six, I received my first cookbook, and because I had a sweet tooth, cakes became my thing. Whenever my dad came back from one of his usual business trips, I would try a different recipe. The majority of them were slight variations of chocolate cakes. I mean, are cakes without chocolate even a thing?! The occasional lemon tart, apple pie, or even a more elaborate upside down pineapple cake did appear on the menu, with much appreciation from my family.

While I cherish those memories, I no longer have the time to spend hours making a mess in the kitchen. But food has always remained my passion, together with photography. I am lucky enough that my partner is as much as a coffee lover and camera hoarder as me (if not more). Now, I do not claim to be an expert or a pro at these things. I simply enjoy combining flavours and colours as a way to unwind at the end of the day.

Today, cooking has become for me a way of taking some time out, enjoying a glass of wine, sharing family recipes with friends, and experimenting with ingredients as a way of travelling to places I can’t afford to visit (yet). It’s all about finding happiness in simple things, like sprinkled sugar on toast. And because in my day job I’m a researcher, I also like to study how food can make us happy, how it affects our mind and body, and what is our relationship with it as a society.

My Talisman of Happiness is a way of tying together my current life to those childhood memories, to create new ones as my partner fiancé husband and I build our lives together, in search of happiness through food.

me, my nan, and my brother

That little blonde girl to the left is me, with my nonna and brother.