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San Diego’s Love For Its ‘Little Italy’

Oven cooked pizza

Credit: Wolf Rick

Above: Oven cooked pizza

San Diego's Love For Its "Little Italy"

GUEST: Maria Desiderata Montana, author, San Diego Italian Food: A Culinary History of Little Italy and Beyond, San Diego Food Finds blog

Book: San Diego Italian Food: A culinary history of Little Italy and Beyond

Photo credit: Maria Desiderata Montana

Grandma's Stracciatella Soup

It's the event many San Diego food lovers wait all year for — The Little Italy Festa takes place this Sunday, Oct. 12. While many ethnic cuisines have become more fashionable, the restaurants and eateries in Little Italy are still the go-to destination for visitors and locals alike who are looking for great things to eat.

But why does San Diego have a Little Italy in the first place? And how has it changed? A new book looks at Little Italy and San Diego's love of Italian food — it's called "San Diego Italian Food: A Culinary History of Little Italy and Beyond."

San Diego author Maria Desiderata Montana, a daughter of that Italian heritage and one of the city’s most notable food writers, takes us on a savory tour through the zesty Italian food traditions, businesses and recipes both in Little Italy and across San Diego.

Maria Desiderata Montana, publisher of the award-winning food blog, "San Diego Food Finds", first learned how to cook and appreciate European cuisine from her parents, who were born and raised in Calabria, Italy. Maria loves to cook and create new recipes and strongly believes that eating with family and friends is a celebration of life itself.

In her book, "San Diego Italian Food," Maria shares some of her own family recipes including one of her favorite, her mothers ravioli, which she says "will keep you full for a week!"

Grandma’s Stracciatella Soup

"My mother made this soup for me when I was growing up. As kids, we would enjoy a big bowl of it after school or as a starter before our family dinner. Spinach simmered in a chicken-flavored broth is good for you, and the addition of eggs and cheese makes it even tastier."

Serves 2

4 cups fresh spinach leaves, roughly chopped (substitute: 12 ounces frozen cut-leaf spinach)

6 cups water

4 teaspoons chicken bouillon

2 large eggs

3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese

Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

In a medium saucepot, combine spinach and water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook spinach until wilted; season with chicken bouillon. In a small mixing bowl, whisk eggs and parmesan cheese. Bring spinach to a boil and gradually drizzle the egg mixture into the soup, stirring gently with a fork and cooking eggs until done, about 1 minute.

To serve: Ladle soup into a bowl and drizzle with olive oil.

Little Italy Festa

Little Italy Festa, annual festival in San Diego

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