Meet Nonna Gilda Taormina
About Nonna Gilda
My name is Gilda Castiello Taormina, and I was born in Pollena Trocchia, a very small town outside of Naples, at the foot of Mt. Somma and very near to beautiful Mt. Vesuvio. My childhood was wonderful, surrounded with many cousins. Both of my parents, Aniello and Nunzia, came from very large families. I was the fourth of five children, two boys and three girls. We always sat down for dinner together. We knew how important that time was and we shared our daily facts, activities and had conversations about life, always around the dinner table. Naturally, it was our special time because of what we were about to eat every day. Food was a blessing, my mother would tell us. There was no such thing as saying, "I don't like this” or "I don't like that.” “You eat what I put in front of you and be thankful for it,” were my mother’s words.
I loved to go by my nonna’s house when I was a little girl. There always was a special treat for us children. My favorite was the end part of a warm, fresh loaf of bread, just out of the brick-oven, sprinkled with olive oil, or with mortadella, still today I'm so hooked on it!
I met my husband Harris, in Italy on one of his vacations there and... we fell in love. I came to this country in 1971, when we got married. I have two beautiful daughters that also love to cook and bake, just like me. They always ask me to write down and MEASURE everything I cook. I remember how very hard it was for me to master my mom's recipes without exact measurements. It took me quite awhile to get the recipes correct.
I have two grandsons and a little granddaughter on the way. My oldest grandson, Justin is my baking partner for the holidays. He loves making cookies with me and decorating them. He also loves "Nonna's spaghetti with Italian sauce", and my little one says, “Uhm good!”, every time he eats. It is so true for us Italians, that preparing food and eating together definitely keeps families strong.
I am so proud of my Italian heritage and treasure my memories of growing up in Italy. I lost my oldest brother, Lello, six years ago and he was my anchor -- my roots -- he loved keeping Italian music and culture alive for all of us. I shared his talent participating in Italian plays written and produced by him, and radio programs as well. Together, we loved our country and wanted to keep it alive in the Italian communities and in our own families. I'm sure I have successively instilled all this to my children, and they will in turn to theirs. I have so many of my favorite recipes to share with you, I can't wait to start.