Antonio Nigro, 24, of Edison, N.J., experienced no idea he would make his grandmother into a social media sensation only by videotaping her executing what she loves to do.
It all began in January 2020. Pia Quaglieri, now 83 a long time previous, was sitting in the kitchen getting completely ready for a excursion to the supermarket. As his Nonna (pronounced NO-nna, Italian for grandmother) was crafting a browsing record of anything she wanted to prepare dinner for Sunday evening meal for a relatives party, Nigro resolved to videotape her.
“At the time, I experienced a TikTok account, but I wasn’t quite active. I posted the video clip for fun and imagined nothing at all of it,” he reported. “A handful of hours later, I looked at my mobile phone and the video had 100,000 views. It was a entire fluke. I didn’t expect it to go viral.”
Nowadays, Nonna Pia (@nonnapiaa) has above 2.6 million followers on TikTok. Her lovers enjoy her, contacting her “amazing” and “a treasure.” Nonna Pia has seriously struck an emotional chord with individuals who have misplaced a grandparent or ended up divided from liked types owing to the pandemic.
According to Nigro, “Eighty p.c of the responses on our films are about how Nonna reminds them of their personal grandmother. She connects men and women to their individual traditions, to their own fantastic family reminiscences.”
Nonna Pia’s passion for cooking
For some, cooking is a necessity or even a chore. But for Quaglieri, cooking is a enthusiasm. In an job interview with Following Avenue, she stated, “I appreciate when everyone eats result in it makes me so satisfied to see smiles on everyone’s facial area.”
Quaglieri was elevated in Italy and immigrated to the U.S. when she was in her late teens.
“Nonna Pia lived as a result of Environment War II. During that time, she didn’t have that a lot to consume. Now, she constantly tends to make positive there is loads. Nonna has no portion manage. Even even though we can take in a great deal, there are always leftovers in some cases we have whole trays that we give to mates and neighbors,” Nigro said.
In a video clip of Nonna taken on July 3, Nigro reviews that there is no way that the desk whole of food stuff is just the leftovers from that night’s supper. Nonna laughs and states she cooked so much pasta and meatballs there will be no need to have for a barbecue on the Fourth of July.
Quaglieri claims she discovered how to prepare dinner from her mom and sister-in-regulation. She depends on very simple ingredients, such as heaps of fresh new deliver.
Of his grandmother, Nigro claimed, “Like a lot of immigrants, she arrived from humble beginnings, so she does not use a large amount of expensive components in her cooking. She also doesn’t experiment significantly. She prefers to stick to cooking dishes she is aware of how to make and she has come to be an even improved cook with age.”
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‘The way I make it’
Every little thing Quaglieri serves, from bread to pasta, is home made. In one online video, Quaglieri asks her grandson if he needs macaroni and cheese for lunch, introducing, “The way I make it. No from a box.”
In another movie, Nigro asks Nonna if the sauce (yes, she prefers the word sauce to gravy) she is utilizing for her lasagna is keep acquired. Quaglieri visibly shudders and says, “Are you kidding me?”
“Sometimes folks mistakenly assume that she takes advantage of mass-produced jarred sauce in the video clips. But we actually jar our possess sauce each and every summer months. The complete loved ones — aunts, uncles, cousins — we all get alongside one another to make new sauce in August,” Nigro reported. “It’s a whole method, puréeing the tomatoes, introducing the elements and building tons of jars of sauce so we can use it yr-round.”
In contrast to some written content creators, Nigro chooses not to make movies that are enhanced or seriously edited. In its place, he posts vignettes of his grandmother’s authentic day to day daily life. Nigro captures Nonna Pia cooking, cleansing, laughing, dancing and taking pleasure in herself.
The videos illustrate her really like of everyday living and family, as perfectly as her outstanding toughness. Viewers see Quaglieri lifting giant pots and kneads substantial mounds of dough to make homemade bread and pasta.
Nigro said, “Pia is this sort of a difficult worker. She cooks practically each and every working day. Then she cleans the kitchen and the total home.”
Added Quaglieri, “It’s all I did my complete daily life. I constantly had mouths to feed.”
Nigro joked, “Nonna does not have to have training due to the fact she is constantly on her ft, other than for in the evenings when she likes to sit in the dwelling space with us to watch her video game displays.”
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A shock TikTok feeling
Quaglieri is amazed by how well-known she has develop into on TikTok.
“At first, when I instructed her about the range of likes and views her videos are getting, I am not absolutely sure she comprehended it, but she was flattered,” Nigro explained. “Her fame has hit her more just lately and she receives a kick out of it when men and women identify her when she is out grocery purchasing.”
Quaglieri reported, “Yes, I’m incredibly stunned that so many individuals treatment for my cooking. It feels superior cause I like to display persons how I cook.” But although she appreciates her on line followers, her largest joy is cooking for her household. She is pretty happy of her eight grandchildren and her wonderful-grandchildren.
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Nigro considers himself an old soul. In the course of his life he has often savored expending time with his older relations, particularly his grandmother. “Nonna Pia has lived with us (his moms and dads and brother) given that I was a small kid. She is like a 2nd mother to me,” he explained.
Quaglieri is normally read in the films telling her grandson, “You acquired to master.”
She explained, “Because when I’m not below [any] additional, they have to have to preserve the Italian traditions heading. I often want all my grandkids to take in just as great.”
The drive to hold these recipes and traditions alive is why Nigro begun building the videos. “There are no recipes penned down, no measurements — she cooks by come to feel, by taste and by memory,” he said.
“All the recipes are in my head, I just recall them,” Quaglieri defined. (Normally questioned by enthusiasts if she wishes to write a cookbook, Quaglieri replies, “How am I going to create a cookbook when I never publish English?”)
Nigro is joyful to see the entire world embracing his grandmother, but claims it wasn’t his intent to make his Nonna famous
“It has never ever been about earning revenue or getting followers. The enthusiasm for the videos is to protect our traditions. I record Nonna Pia for us, for our relatives. I want to maintain her traditions and make confident that her like of foods and relatives carries on by means of the generations,” Nigro said.
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Growing up Italian
Saturday, March 19 was St. Joseph’s Day and how else would Italians opt for to commemorate the working day but with a feast?
Sabino Curcio, owner of Anthony and Son Sandwich Shoppe in Brooklyn, N.Y. and co-creator of the Growing Up Italian podcast, stated, “For us, foodstuff is about household and custom. Italians, we choose delight in our cooking. We cook the dishes that remind us of the very good memories we have escalating up, sitting all-around the table all together.”
In Curcio’s text, you never have to be loaded to delight in a abundant and scrumptious Italian meal.
“In Italy, and even when they very first arrived to The us, Italians struggled. They didn’t have funds or entry to extravagant ingredients. They didn’t consume a lot meat or chicken. Instead, they labored with great, reasonably priced components – the very best they could find,” he reported. “Water, flour – which is all it will take to make a pasta or pizza dough.”
And even though today’s present day Italian cooking tries to reinvent the classics, Curcio thinks that is nonsense.
“A do-it-yourself crust, with selfmade sauce and fresh new mozzarella – that’s a pizza. There is no purpose to add pineapple or other funky elements,” he mentioned. “It’s not broken, so there is no have to have to correct it.”
Randi Mazzella is a freelance writer specializing in a extensive array of matters from parenting to pop society to everyday living soon after 50. She is a mom of three and lives in New Jersey with her husband and teenage son. Examine extra of her get the job done on randimazzella.com.
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