Mark Federico, co-owner along with his wife Pattie of Narragansett Creamery, was interviewed by the Brown Daily Herald this month regarding some of his feelings on food. Below is an excerpt from the interview. Click here to read the full article.
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Herald: What’s your earliest memory in the kitchen?
Federico: Well, it may not be exactly in the kitchen, but my earliest memories of food and food preparation would be of canning tomatoes, canning fresh fruits and wine-making. I also grew up with my parents and a close uncle of mine who enjoyed cooking as a hobby, and so with my dad’s store being two doors down, he would get the fresh vegetables and cook lunch every day. We would see what produce the farmer brought in and what looked good, and that’s what we would cook for the day.
What’s your favorite thing to cook and why?
My favorite thing to cook is an Amatriciana sauce made with pancetta, onions, fresh tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, all over pasta. I love to use Daniele Pancetta — Daniele is another local manufacturer right here.
What’s your spirit food?
This is right off the cuff, but it’s a hearty soup that I like — an escarole and bean soup. I just feel good eating the greens and the vegetables.
What makes Providence a good food city?
I think it is an educated consumer, too, that realizes that what we eat is important. And people are realizing what preservatives do to your body. People are looking for purer food. There is an appreciation for it, and that is matched with the creative talent that’s here, and it works.
How would you describe your food philosophy?
Simple, real food. We were fortunate, both Pattie’s family and mine — we grew up with that philosophy. Our parents and grandparents made everything from pasta to cake from scratch. If we wanted to have pasta that night, it was, “Here is the dough, the flour and the egg in the middle, make some pasta.” No boxed foods. We are happy to see that there is an appreciation for that today. It isn’t about the expediency. I can take a fresh vegetable and cook it faster than you can take something out of a can or defrost.
How does food fit into a larger conversation about culture?
From our backgrounds, food was always the centerpiece of the day — it was an opportunity to sit down. A meal wasn’t just about food, it was about communication. We had the daily dinner in our home with our five children. It was just a part of the day — it was not only a time to eat, but also a time to communicate