YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – We are continuing to introduce to you our newest 33 WYTV News co-anchor Aaron Deane. Throughout the week, he has been traveling around, sharing the things he finds interesting in our Valley.
Friday, he was in the Mahoning Valley where he explored his love for Italian food and culture through his southern roots. Aaron said he learned that Italian culture shares a lot of the same qualities that he learned in his childhood in Southwest Virginia.
“Love, food, togetherness. That’s what we do here in the Valley,” said Frank Occhibove of Jimmy’s Italian Specialities.
He joined Occhibove at Jimmy’s to explore what makes Italian food stand out.
“Well, I think garlic is a big standout for Italian food. It’s like once you think you’ve put too much, you add a little bit more just in case,” Occhibove said.
He also shared the difference between what greens are for the two cutures. Aaron thinks of collards, kale, mustard or even turnup greens. But for Italians, that’s not the case.
“Italian Greens are traditionally made of escarole. They are pan friend with garlic and with light seasoning and of course, olive oil. It’s the most simple ingredients that I think make all Italian foods and culture what it is… the simplicity of life,” Occhibove said.
Growing up, many of Aaron’s favorite memories surrounded food, whether it was making pound cakes with his grandma or helping his mom make sweet potato pies on Thanksgiving. Occhibove shares similar memories.
“As a child, I remember always having that Sunday meal. That’s the day no matter what where everyone gets together and just eats and enjoys. All the memories I have are around a kitchen table,” Occhibove said.
Occhibove and Aaron are both proud of their cultures. What they have in common, they celebrate and what they don’t, they take the time to learn from one another.
“Like you said, it’s very much like the South. It’s all about food and togetherness, love, friends, family. So I think you got it… it’s just with a little extra flair to it,” Occhibove said.
On a fun note, Occhibove wants everyone to know that pastrami is not Italian, it’s American and if you’re looking for something that’s authentically Italian — that’s not it.