Giovanna Eusebi

Eusebi Deli, Glasgow



The cooking of Italy is what I like to refer to as the ‘genius of women’. It is Mamma’s food, which influences Italian menus the world over. Our own restaurant is influenced by the spirit of generations of Italian women, interpreted by modern chefs and local Scottish ingredients. The old ways of cooking are still connected with new, 21st century dishes by the ‘Cucina Povera’, literally ‘the cooking of the poor’ in Southern Italy.


It is a cooking culture my Mother was born into in 1942. At its heart is resourcefulness, and learning to work with what you have around you. Nothing is ever wasted and you must preserve all you can for leaner times. The seasons dictated your larder, as there were no supermarkets or freezers to rely on. At this time of year, when the autumn mists roll in over the Aurunci Mountains, the trees around them defined my family’s food. Chestnuts were harvested by the women and carried in baskets on their head.


The trees were also laden with figs at this time of year. Once ripe enough, these provided a sweet breakfast treat. It was indeed a welcome change from the modest bowl of ‘pan cotto’ – a soup made of stale bread, cooked in water and finished with their homemade oil. The figs were dried on straw mats outdoors and covered with a muslin cloth. They were dried naturally by the sun and stored to be enjoyed in the December festive period.


Almonds or walnuts were inserted into the dried fruit, threaded onto sticks and cooked on the fire for Christmas Day. Woodland fruits, like morella berries, which are now considered to be a ‘superfood’, were eaten fresh. Stone fruits like cherries, plums and pears were also preserved. The sap from the plum trees was collected by my Mum and stored in tins. This was given to her Uncle, a cabinetmaker, to lacquer furniture.


Protein was provided in the form of eggs from their chickens and used to make pasta. Sheep’s milk was used for cheese making and its wool made into thread. Locally caught ‘sardu’, giant sardines were preserved in salt for the winter months, to be enjoyed with peppers in their own wine vinegar.


The only interruption of their carefree existence came in the war years. Germans heavily occupied the village, and overnight, their land was cruelly sabotaged. The land became killing fields, laden with booby trap mines. My Mum lost her own Grandfather and two Uncles, desperately trying to maintain their crops to feed their hungry families. My Grandfather had to change from a humble farmer to partisan, risking everything to lead British troops to safe crossings over the nearby Garigliano River en-route to Cassino.


It took years of work to restore their land; many villagers fled the famine, including my Mum. Firstly, crossing oceans to Brazil and then to Lyon. Their baggage was materially light, but emotionally laden with hope, fear and a conviction that one day they would return to their land or ‘terra’ once more. One thing that was never lost was the experience, knowledge and skills from living off the land and being resourceful with what they had around them.


Cured Mackerel Agro Dolce

 This is a recipe that is true to the ‘Cucina Povera’ principles of using local produce and preserving techniques. Mackerel is a fantastic ingredient to use, as it’s cost effective and caught locally in Scottish waters. The recipe is also finished with simple, store cupboard ingredients to give a delicious Italian twist.


Serves 4


8-10 cooked mackerel fillets

2 red peppers


For the curing marinade: 

3 bay leaves

6 sprigs of thyme

500ml water

125ml cider vinegar

1 tsp salt


For the onion vinaigrette:

95ml extra virgin olive oil

15ml balsamic vinegar

1 spring onion, fine chopped

15g chives, finely chopped


For the garnish:

1 tbsp sultanas

1 tbsp toasted pine nuts

Salt and pepper

Extra virgin olive oil

Micro basil



  1. First, make the curing marinade. Add all the ingredients to a pan and bring a simmer. Set aside and leave to cool completely. Place the mackerel fillets skin side down in a tray. Cover with the marinade and leave in the fridge for 3 hours.
  2. Roast the peppers in a hot oven for 40 minutes. Allow to cool and then remove the skins and cut into slices.
  3. Make the onion vinaigrette by combining all the ingredients together in a bowl and whisking together.
  4. To assemble, lay half of the peeled pepper slices on each plate. Add 2 to 3 mackerel fillets around the plate and season with salt and pepper. Scatter over the sultanas and pine nuts. Spoon over the vinaigrette and finish with a little extra virgin olive oil and micro basil.


Photography by Gerardo Jaconelli.