Picture: Sibusiso Ndlovu

Raised in the small Italian village of Luciano, Cecilia Di Cecco had nothing but a suitcase full of dreams when she left Europe to work as a musician with the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra (KZNPO) in Durban

Today she is at home in both South Africa and Italy so much so that the 48-year old has launched an Italian-inspired cookbook that promises to be music to your taste buds.

When Di Cecco arrived in Durban she started to expand and over time refine her music career as well as her passion for food.

It’s been 13 years since then and she’s now launched her first cookbook Cucina, in South Africa.

The musician and cook unveiled her labour of love at a launch at the Italian Club in Durban North.

Speaking about her journey, Di Cecco says she has fond childhood memories of being in the kitchen and watching her parents and grandmother cooking. 

Later; in her teenage years, she moved to north Italy to complete her music studies, and her travels fuelled her dual passion for the arts and food.

“I discovered the world through music. Working with musicians, orchestras and collaborations throughout Europe. It was while seeking a musical post abroad that I ultimately chose Durban over Auckland and Michigan. “Apart from my music my other passion is food. I inherited the pleasure of cooking from my parents, whom are both great cooks. My father specialized in sweet pastries and cakes. My mother more dedicated to the savoury dishes,” she says.

Cucina in South Africa includes 70 mouth-watering recipes suited to all kinds of diets- vegetarian and vegan- and dishes from her home province, Abruzzo. The book also provides readers with menu ideas for winter and summer. Each recipe contains nutritional information and all ingredients have been carefully selected. Although Di Cecco is fiercely proud of her Italian roots, she has combined her love to create recipes with a South African-Italian flair.

Asked about her favourite in the book, she quips that since she’s been forced to choose, she would single out the baked fennel, langoustine, pork braised in milk and the cannoli Siciliani.

Cucina in South Africa is available at all mainstream book-stores and retails for R495.