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Ciao Bella!

45 minutes
First broadcast:
Friday 18 March 2011

Written by by Jerome Vincent.

Eleanor Bron plays Nonna Grazia, and Cherie Lunghi, plays her daughter, Theresa, in Jerome Vincent's play set in and around an Italian delicatessen in Brighton.

The action turns around the fate of the deli following the death of Theresa's husband, Carlo - who had worked hard to build up his business and stop it falling into the hands of Salvatore Iaquinta, the owner of a chain of cheap Italian coffee shops. Sal is smooth, ruthless and good-looking; and he's after Theresa, as well as her shop.

But in steps Theresa's daughter, Toni - recently made redundant from a high-powered job in the City - who decides to put her business acumen to good use and drag the deli into the 21st century, while making sure it still retains the old world charm and wonderful food, the customers love.

Toni's grandmother, Nonna Grazia, is a fiery old woman who was once a child-partisan in the hills around Benevento, and fought the Germans during the war, even though she was only 13. As well as handing out advice to all and sundry (whether they want it or not!) she's also a fantastic cook. In one scene of the play she cooks a garlic and pasta dish guaranteed to have listeners licking their lips!

Throughout the production we use specially recorded Italian popular music, performed by cousin Immacolata (played by Rita Ullo). Based on the real-life experiences of the writer's extended, deli-owning family, the play is rich in detail and humour - and the very distinct aural flavour of the Italian community in Britain.

Nonna ..... Eleanor Bron
Theresa ..... Cherie Lunghi
Salvatore / Kiriakov ..... Richard Attlee
Toni ..... Alison Pettit
Nino / Fiorello ..... Gunnar Cauthery
Emilio ..... Adrian Grove
Aldo / Carlo ...... John Evitts
Immacolata .....Rita Ullo

Guitarist: Paolo Vanoncini

Producer/Director: David Blount
A Pier production for BBC Radio 4.

  • Recipe

    Spaghetti Aglio, Olio e Peperoncino, The Nonna Grazia Way

    This is a quick and hearty meal that can be done in the time it takes to cook the pasta properly. It's the original 'fast-food' and was often cooked to satisfy sudden hunger after a hard day out in the fields.

    Serves 4

    400g Spaghetti
    50g Anchovies in olive oil, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, chopped
    ¼ tsp crushed dried red chillies
    50 ml olive oil
    Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese

    Boil the spaghetti in salted water as instructed on packet – usually about 10 to 12 minutes.

    After the spaghetti has been cooking for about 5 minutes, begin the following:

    In a large frying pan heat the olive oil gently over a medium to low heat.
    Add the garlic and gently fry until pale golden. It’s very important not to let the garlic burn.

    Add the anchovy and allow to dissolve, stirring it into the oil.

    Add the crushed dried red chillies.

    When the pasta is cooked, add one ladle of the hot water from the pasta saucepan into the frying pan, before straining the pasta.

    Toss the drained pasta quickly into the oil mixture in the frying pan and mix thoroughly.

    Serve immediately with grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese.

    Buon appetito!


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