Cooker Girl: Democratic Focaccia

18 August 2020

Aurora is still young: she’s only recently celebrated her 19th birthday and finished high school, which was no easy feat for the Class of 2020.

Yet Aurora is already a well-known figure in the Italian food blogging world: as Cooker Girl she’s got over 200,000 followers on a TikTok profile she only started eight months ago and another 40,000 on Instagram.

These are impressive numbers by any measure, particularly in the local Italian context. As she tell us, “I’ve been contacted by communications sector experts. Cooker Girl could be my job, I could be a full-time influencer, but a purely digital world doesn’t interest me much. The priority for now is my education. If all goes well in this difficult year, from next autumn I’ll begin my course at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, and I can’t wait!”

SUNDAY LUNCH

So where did all this start? “My passion for cooking started a long time ago. At home, I needed to fill a gap in our Sunday lunches. My grandmothers are both excellent cooks, and they put impeccable spreads: antipasti, first and main courses, coffee…”

So what was missing? Dessert! Neither of her grandmothers cared much for making them. So Aurora decided to become the dessert chef at home. “I used recipe books but above all I looked online, blogs and tutorials on YouTube. For some recipes it was simple enough, for others a really time-consuming effort… with croissants, for example, it took me four years to get all the elements and steps right, and some of the techniques weren’t really clear to me. And that’s what I’m interested in: clarity, giving the complete picture, above all for myself!”

Pasta with yellow cherry tomatoes, pistachios and anchovy sauce.

AURORA BECOMES COOKER GIRL

Aurora was encouraged by her success in completing the missing piece of the puzzle in her family lunches, and decided to open a blog and an Instagram page, initially anonymous. She was shy, and so the identity of Cooker Girl remained a mystery for a while. The photos were all of prepared dishes, with only an occasional detail of the author: an apron, a hand among the ingredients.

This went on through her first year as Cooker Girl, 2017, until one day Aurora connected her Instagram page to her Facebook profile by mistake, and thus her followers were finally able to see who she was. From that moment on, Aurora began to show her face on the channel, and indeed to take on the role of presenter, full of enthusiasm and spontaneity.

YEAST AND DEMOCRATIC FOOD

So what do we find on her pages? Lots of useful tips and tricks, like the one she offers in her How It’s Made video, “Democratic Focaccia” – i.e. for everyone – which we present a short clip of today (the full episode will be available on October 9, together with all the other episodes of the series).

“What I recommend is that you check the grams of protein that are listed in the nutrition table on the packet. What’s important is that they are flours with a high enough protein content, that is, they must have at least 11 grams of protein per 100 grams of flour. The protein shows how strong our flour is, so how much it holds the leavening. In this case, the high hydration in a focaccia dough which has lots of water for the amount of flour means we need a very very strong flour…”

Aurora’s attitude to blogging is that she only posts when she thinks she has something useful to share, and doesn’t simply post every day like so many do. This curation is appreciated by her audience, who can count on her for quality content.

All of this is complimented by another aspect which we at Slow Food hold dear: the quality of the ingredients. “I love little neighborhood stores, I have my trusted butchers, grocers and cheese sellers. When I go shopping I like to chat with these people, share our impressions of things, swap advice, learn.”

As it happens, I think we have a lot to learn from Aurora. A determined spirit with talent and a desire to both improve her own skills and to share them with others, as well as a clear gift for communication. Maybe she’ll help us set up a TikTok account!

by Silvia Ceriani, info.eventi@slowfood.it

Cooker Girl is the protagonist of an episode of How It’s Made, a new format for Terra Madre Salone del Gusto 2020 dedicated to jobs relating to food, to cooking techniques and recipes. The full episode will be published on October 9, together with the episodes in the series.

Something Aurora experiment with in lockdown: hummus with naan bread.