She was a Navy nurse overseas, dining with an 'Italian Mom.' Now she runs a cooking school

Feb 10, 2019 434

BY: Nancy Stohs

Her 24 years as a Navy nurse taught Pam Dennis many things. Leadership. Organization. Attention to detail. The value of nurturing. And oh, yes — skills in the kitchen. The Navy itself had nothing to do with that. But while stationed in the port city of Pozzuoli in southern Italy, a 20-something Dennis made fast friends with a fellow apartment dweller, an older woman named Anna, who became her “Italian mom.”

In addition to generously hosting Dennis and her roommate four nights a week for dinner, she took Dennis under her wing in the kitchen. “Anna taught me all her recipes,” Dennis said. Those included pasta a la vongole (clams), lasagna with polpetti (tiny meatballs within the sheets of pasta), pasta putanesca, spaghetti carabonara, grilled swordfish and calamari, just to name a few. She showed her how to make homemade pasta and which sauces went with each shape; how to clean fish and seafood, and so much more.

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