Marta’s Genuine Italian Food


ONCE upon a time on any newspaper I was ever a news guy on, what I’m about to do would have sparked a strike. Instantly. A reporter touched a camera. A reporter took a photograph. Aargh.

I actually never ever saw it happen. In decades. Not once. Tonight, thanks to unintended consequences of Tier Four bubble-mania, it sparks nothing more than a frisson of all-round irritation.

Okay, mostly from me. The fat food critic who doesn’t even own a camera. Never has. Can’t even work the things.

Anyway, the doorbell has gone, the delivery been accepted and laid on the kitchen table. Tinfoil is unfolded, space is cleared, stuff unboxed, iPhone unleashed and the new ritual gone through. Snap, snap, snap. While the family stand by, arms folded, and wearily watch.

Hang on, that’s no good. Try there, move that fork, bloody placemats, who left this here, is there a light in our house that doesn’t cast a shadow? Yadada. While hunger builds.

By the time I’ve finished, well, it’s kinda killed the moment. And the food still has to be heated. Sigh.

I can tell you now Marta the Italian lady, off Facebook of all things, who freshly made this tray of lasagne and also that tray of spinach and ricotta cannelloni, and has written these before-eating instructions, has a better oven than ours.

Twenty minutes at 180? Never.

These trays are big. More like 40 at 160, is the conclusion after numerous oven door openings, finger proddings, fork stabbings.

Why Facebook? Frankly? When it comes to better food the internet is broken, a junkyard of broken promises, wishful thinking, stalled websites and if you’re lucky to find an updated Google Local or link page it usually leads eventually to extremely long order-in-advance times, with an annoying gold-rush log-back-on when menus are released.

Though I have got to say it’s the Scottish and UK governments which have unnecessarily broken the better restaurants.

Anyway, only on Facebook, the clunkiest of all food mediums, do I find someone who will allow me to bag some fresh non-freezer van food and have it delivered while I’m still capable of remembering what I once fancied.

Moan over. Food ready. We sit, we get the big spoon out. Early doors? This is a proper lasagne. Bubbled on top, browned righteously, parting into portions that reveal the tell-tale softness of fresh pasta and most importantly, most reassuringly, there is layer after layer of it.

To me, a lasagne in Italy, one made by someone-you-know in someone-you-know’s actual house always has loads of layers, the thinnest spreading of ingredient separating them, and a creamy bechamel in there just thick enough to temper everything. Like this.

Layers so fine it looks like alternating stripes. This is a good lasagne, we agree, and vote we would order it again. Though maybe a bit bolder with the seasoning next time, please?

Onto that cannelloni. Fat long tubes, draped in cheeses stuffed with enough spinach to give the ricotta a peppery kick, once again the pasta buttery smooth, those fat tubes holding everything in place until it sprawls at the touch of fork.

We’ll still be finishing both of these off tomorrow night. And enjoying them.

Oh, there are a couple of caprese salads, ordered out of curiosity, served on cocktail sticks, doused in olive oil, the basil surprisingly lively. A bag of handmade, heart-shaped, cinnamon flavoured biscuit things from abruzzo.

Now, I’ve got to tell you I actually emailed three different small-scale finer food suppliers on Facebook. Only Marta replied on the same day, one of the others not even the same week. We live in difficult times.

But it is another of the unintended consequences of these times that we’re able to virtually go right into other people’s homes and have their freshly made and pretty good food brought straight to our own homes.

And that, at least, can’t be a bad thing.

Marta’s Genuine Italian Food

Ordered from Facebook

Menu: Simple choices of either lasagne or cannelloni, orb, a caprese salad or two, and some freshly made biscuits. 4

Price: A tray of lasagne or spinach and ricotta cannelloni, that would easily feed four, came in at £25 each with an extra fiver for delivery. 4/5

Service: Hey, it was delivered with a smile. 3/5

Atmosphere: Umm, we’re eating at home so apart from the carry on taking photos all was sweetness and light. 4/5

Food: Handmade and homemade lasagne made by an Italian person and brought to your home to be heated up in the oven. What’s not to like? 8/10