Reader Interview: Nina the Rugby Player

Nina the rugby player at the Staten Island Ferry shares her cooking wisdomPlease welcome Nina and her unusual expertise in culinary arts, thanks to her Italian-German ancestry.

I’m Nina, 40ys old, stay-at-home-mom and rugby player, peer-to-peer breastfeeding counselor, Italo-German living in Bremen, Germany, have 2 children and a husband plus a demented grandmother I care for. Here’s my cooking blog: which is pretty abandoned as I have other special interest blogs on women’s rugby and feminist mothering. They’re more on top of my list at the moment.

  • What do you remember about family meals and your mother’s cooking style when you were growing up? I come from a rather dysfunctional family and my mother was never the best cook or housewife, so one of the things I missed the most when my parents separated was my father’s (Italian) cooking. My mom could make a decent pork roast and pretty good bolognese sugo, and that’s about it. I learned most of my cooking from watching my father cook, as I wasn’t allowed to help, and from both my grandmothers.
  • How is your cooking style different from your mother’s?  Well, she did not cook unless was told to. I love to cook for lots of people and that’s why I have a family.
  • What is your favorite gadget? Really sharp knives. I have a wonderful Zwilling Santoku knife which I adore.
    Do you entertain, and in what circumstances? What is the biggest party or meal you have hosted to date? I like to have friends and neighbours over for Dinner. Back in the days I catered for a DIY PunkRockShowBooker and was out there cooking mostly vegan or vegetarian buffets and meals for visiting Bands like the Cro-Mags etc.  The weirdest job ever was a buffet for the opening party of a S/M brothel…. I was also working as a “professional” chef and when I started that job (I had no professional training) the very first evening we shoveled out 450 meals.
  • Can you share a typical daily menu? Weekly menu? Today we had a Risotto. I call it Smugglers Risotto, as it’s in honour of my grand-aunt Angiulina. It’s made with Italian sausage (lughaniga) and extremely tasty! I don’t have a weekly menu as I love to shop for groceries and always find something special on one of the wonderful markets we have here (but which are crap compared to the markets in Italy…).
  • How has your cooking style evolved over the years? As a kid i was a picky eater. Every kind of meat had to be well done, plus I was eating mostly pork and turkey. I wasn’t a diverse eater, when i was at a Greek restaurant for the first time I thought they were going to poison me and I really hated Dolmades (I love them now and make them myself with fresh wine leaves from my garden). I guess the “break”  came when I really got into cooking, in German schools you had to do an internship in 9th grade and as I was lazy and always hungry I decided to do it in a restaurant. I had so much fun and they even gave me some money! After that, I really started to become interested in cooking.
  • Can you recommend any cookbooks, TV shows or websites that have inspired you?
    I love the BBC shows from Antonio Carluccio, I really love Giorgio Locatelli’s “Made in Italy” Book. It’s a bit odd that I like two Italian chefs that made their career in the UK – but on the other hand both of them come from an area near to my home village (near Lago Maggiore), so I kinda “get” their style of cooking. I also love the “Zu Tisch in…” (Cuisine des Terroirs) Series of French/German Broadcaster ARTE, they are incredibly good! But most of my cooking books are in German or Italian…
    And I used to get a lot of input from foodblogs, such as, and others.
    I started blogging very early (around 1999), but my food blog is much younger, it only started 6ys ago…
  • What posts on CM have you enjoyed? Do you have suggestions for future posts?
    I enjoy every post as I like the very down to earth, yet “professional” attitude. I bet with 6 children there is a lot more to consider, be it economical or organiational. I loved the “rice washing” post! Just keep it going!
  • What is the most unusual dish you’ve ever made? Rheinischer Sauerbraten (a special roast made from horse meat). Wasn’t as good as I expected, but was my own fault. I had shortened the marinating time…
  • What is the oldest item in your kitchen? The newest? OMG! I have no idea! I got some pretty old glasses. And the last thing I purchased was a new dishwasher.
  • What would you like to change about your cooking style in the coming year? I’d love to think a bit more ahead, I had lots of stuff going to waste in the last months which is a shame, but I love to buy groceries that much…. Plus I try to not buy any conventional meat anymore, only organic. So we’re heading towards a week of veggie meals and then a good Sunday roast

Please share a favorite recipe and cooking tips.
OK, this is veggie and yummy:

Recipe: Celery and Raduccio Salad

Summary: Raw green salad with mozzarella and garlic


  • Bunch of Celery
  • Middle sized bunch of raddicchio lettuce
  • Ball of fresh Mozzarella
  • Garlic (if it doesn’t have garlic in it, it’d better be a dessert)
  • Salt, Pepper, Balsamico (balsamic vinegar), Olive Oil


  1. Put away the outer stalks of celery, chop up the celery.
  2. Cut the mozzarella into small cubes.
  3. Mince the garlic.
  4. Pour some balsamico onto mozarella and celery and garlic.
  5. Chop up the radicchio.
  6. Put in the spices and some oil, mix.
  7. Let it sit for like 10 minutes.


Substitute cottage cheese for mozzarella.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 10 minute(s)

Diet type: Vegetarian

Diet tags: Reduced fat, Gluten free

Number of servings (yield): 4

Culinary tradition: Italian

My daughter loves it! I stole the recipe from a Moevenpick-Restaurant where they used cottage cheese instead of Mozzarella. But I hate cottage cheese! Try it with buffalo Mozzarella, but cow’s milk Mozzarella (fior di latte) is just a s good as the Balsamico is the big “Player” here.


  1. What a cool post! Nice to meet you, Nina!

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