79. In Tuscany with Paola Maggiulli, The Tiny Italian; Talking Italian... Food, Wine, Colombia, Cuban Salsa Bars and London Pop Ups - The Big Travel Podcast

Episode 79
October 22 , 2019

79. In Tuscany with Paola Maggiulli, The Tiny Italian; Talking Italian… Food, Wine, Colombia, Cuban Salsa Bars and London Pop Ups

In a villa in the Tuscany hills in Italy Lisa and Anglo-Italian food writer, cook and presenter Paola Maggiulli, aka The Tiny Italian have spent the day exploring Siena. Paola was brought up in London with a South American mother and Italian father and spent most of her childhood in the family delicatessen in London’s Battersea. She’s diced with danger in Colombia, travelled the length of Italy to find the best regional dishes and has a burgeoning TV career including appearances on ITV’s The Big Audition and Channel 4’s Cooking up a Fortune.

Lisa and Paola travelled to the Mansalto Estate in Tuscany Italy courtesy of Bookings For You, specialists in luxury villas and apartments across Italy and France.

On this episode we cover:  

The Mansalto estate in the hills of Tuscany

Monte San Savino

Surrounded by vineyards and olive groves in a luxury old farmhouse

Having a Paula Yates moment

The first Big Travel Podcast in pyjamas

Paola Maggiulli the Tiny Italian

Being from Italy, Colombia, Battersea and Essex

Paola’s recent appearance on Chanel 4’s Cooking Up a Fortune

The deli in Battersea the family had for 20 years

An old school ‘salumeria’; salamis hanging off the wall

Every single cheese you can imagine, wines, olive oils, fresh pasta

Feeding the community for over 20 years

Seeing the community kids grow up

Her dad coming from Puglia

Putting his love into the deli and people around him

Gentrification, business rates and rents pushing local businesses out

Paola feeling that something huge was going to be missing out of their lives

Starting with selling things out of a fridge on North Cote Road

Being ‘a curvy girl’ and looking very Italian

Lisa and Paola doing nothing but talking about food and eating for two days

The cooking class experience (Cooking in Florence) that even Lisa managed

Spreading passion about food

Great chefs that can make things look pretty

Encouraging the less confident people to cook

Food and cooking can be as easy as you want it to be

Paola leaving a career in fashion to cook

Cooking being a great way for people to de-stress

Good home-cooking being able health, nutrition and family values

Her Columbian mother and Italian father meeting in the White Hart Pub in Enfield

Her dad taking three girls out but picking her mum

Slow dancing to Spandau Ballet

Regular trips to Colombia as a child

Being chaperoned around Colombia due to the risk of kidnap

Narcos on Netflix making everything make sense

Colombians working to live so they can party on the weekend

Being a shy child brought out by salsa parties with cousins

Since the day she was born going to Italy every summer

Her parents working three jobs to afford trips home

The long trip by train every summer to Italy – due to her Dad’s fear of flying

Her Nonna’s funeral being the catalyst for her father to finally fly

Quitting her career in fashion after 15 years

Spending four months travelling all the Italian regions to eat

Being a London girl and wanting to travel to Italian cities

Learning the dishes in Naples, Rome, Perugia, Florence, Genoa, Milan and Torino

Every single region having vastly different cooking and food

“Italian food does not exist”

Italy only unified in the late 19th century

Being invaded by everyone who left their own traditions

Her most stand-out meal in the old Jewish quarter in Rome

‘Cuccina povra’ poor man’s food using every part of an animal

Tonnerelli a la gricca – pork cheek carbonara

Rome’s four pastas

Lisa’s long lost artichoke restaurant in Rome – can you find it?

‘Slumming it’ in Cuba in Casa Particulares

Loving nothing more than hanging out with the locals

The strong-faced, bleach-haired AirBnB owner who gives the best parties

Neapolitan women being strong and ‘owning the streets’

Lisa and Paola both having a stand out story involving a salsa guy in Trinidad in Cuba

Do Cuba chop people’s hands off?!

How a salsa dancing man is so sexy

Salsa lessons on the rooftop amongst billowing sheets at sunset

Poverty and happiness in Havana

Coming across the aftermath of guerrilla shooting outside Bogota age 14

Having to hide out in a local house

Not being allowed to talk in taxis, wear jewellery or attract attention due to fear of kidnapping

Colombia having dramatically changed

The country being very popular with instragrammers

Colombia being about emeralds, coffee, orchids and the best parties in the world

Working in fashion in New York

The brilliance of Philadelphia – the food scene, the music scene and more

American Italian food being very different to actual Italian food

Italian Americans being extremely proud of their heritage

Fascinated how immigrants choose to embrace or otherwise their home culture

The brilliant press trip with Bookings for You in Mansalto

Paola’s top tips for Italian food in New York

‘Eataly’ Italian food supermarket

Brooklyn’s being more youthful and creative than Manhattan

Eating the most incredible Chinese food in Queens

Lisa going to Harlem for the first time

Paola recommending soul food in Sylvia’s in Harlem

Paola’s Sopranos moment in a mob-style joint in Little Italy

Old school 70s and 80s salsa