How Authentic Are Lidia Bastianich's Italian Recipes?

Lidia Bastianich is known as one of the premier experts on Italian cuisine in the Unites States. With her numerous shows, restaurants and cookbooks, she's become synonymous with "the Boot" and its food, but how just authentically Italian is a Lidia Bastianich recipe? With so many fauxthentic ethnic foods in the U.S., how does one know a chef with a not-so Italian name is offering up food that remains true to its roots? Well, Bastianich's upbringing should be a good enough answer to that.

According to a bio piece by Cucina Toscana, Lidia Bastianich's roots, which would no longer be considered Italian for someone born today, were absolutely Italian during the period when Bastianich grew up. Due to tension after the one-time Italian region where she grew up became part of Yugoslavia, her family escaped across the new Italian border under the guise of visiting family. On top of the cooking she already had learned from childhood, Bastianich's mother was even hid as a chef upon moving back to an Italian territory.

How Lidia Bastianich's upbringing influenced her cooking

Growing up with, not only her parents, but also with her grandparents, Lidia Bastianich picked up quintessential aspects of Italian cuisine that she's used all her life. In an interview with NPR, she details her adolescence on the farm, in what is now modern-day Croatia. She, in fact, grew up helping her grandparents out on the farm, watching how they examined a piglet before purchase, how to raise various animals, from goats and pigs to rabbits and ducks, and eventually how those very animals she helped to raise became food.

Later, after moving from her home, which became Yugoslavia, to present-day Italy, and at 12 years old, America, Bastianich became the primary cook of the household. Because her mother spent the day at work, it became young Lidia's job to prepare the food. With such an early connection to food — cooking it, growing it, watching the circle of life, be it a chicken or a harvest — Lidia Bastianich's credentials would seem to speak for themselves.