Celebrating Our 20th Anniversary (2001 - 2021)
I started this website, mangiabenepasta.com in the fall of 2001. I retired early and was looking for something to get involved in. Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined at that time that I would maintain it for 20 years. I was not at all tech savvy and I had no idea how to even begin to create a website. But what I did know a lot about was cooking, especially Italian cooking and particularly making pasta. So I didn't start out with the intention of documenting traditional Italian recipes but simply to teach people how to make pasta. I also had numerous pasta recipes that I could share, even though my ancestry is not Italian. But first I had to learn how to create a website. It took me awhile to research and some trial and error but I finally launched it on the internet in October 2001. At that time, I didn't even have photos of the food included with the recipes; I used clipart.
It took about a year for the website to begin to get a substantial number of clicks. For several years the website was not gaining many new visitors and I was very discouraged but my husband encouraged me to keep it going. And then I began to receive emails from people telling me how happy they were to find recipes on the site that their mothers and grandmothers used to make. It was always a variation of the same lament that their ancestors had passed on and the recipes were never written down or had been lost. So that was the turning point for me. I had so many recipes to share and I was actually connecting with people, bringing a bit of joy into their lives and preserving these wonderful Italian recipes for generations to come.
I have cooked all the recipes that are on the website. Sometimes I tested them and adjusted ingredients a few times before I felt that they were good enough to post on the site. My husband is open to trying new dishes, so that was a great advantage. We have lovingly called him my "test monkey." After all these years he has also become my food stylist on a number of occasions, helping to plate and arrange the food before I photograph it. How many times has our dinner started to get cold while I take the time to get the plate looking just right! So there's a lot going on behind the scenes for each recipe that is posted on the site.
It was when I started to add Italian dessert recipes to the site that I began to gain many more visitors. In fact, for a several years, mangiabenepasta.com was #1 when you did a Google search for Italian desserts. Dessert recipes are the most popular type of recipe on our site to this day. I assume people remember them because they were associated with holidays, good times and special events. The problem people have in locating most recipes is the way that they remember the name of the dish as it was spoken and how it is actually written. I addition, one recipe may have numerous names for it throughout Italy. Depending on the region that one's ancestors came from, they may call it something entirely different that a neighboring region. But as long as the person describes the ingredients to me, I almost always will recognize what he/she is talking about.
I love getting emails from people who have tried one of our recipes. There are a number of stories that have touched my heart. A mother who cooked all the food for her daughter's wedding with recipes from our site. Another mother who said that her child wouldn't eat broccoli until she made our Broccoli with Cavatelli. But probably my favorite story was another young woman who made a birthday cake for her grandmother. She said that her grandmother had described a cake to her that she used to have on her birthdays when she was a little girl but she didn't know the name of it. She had searched a number of websites looking for a recipe that sounded like the cake her grandmother told her about. She thought that our Italian Rum Cake might be it so she made it for her grandmother's birthday. She wrote that her grandmother couldn't have been more surprised and that it was exactly how she remembered it. That's why I have kept this website going for 20 years!
Thanks to all of you, my loyal visitors!