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Welcome to Chowhound’s Table Talk podcast, where Executive Editor Hana Asbrink chats with some of the most interesting names and newsmakers in the food space. Today: Pasta Grannies creator and cookbook author, Vicky Bennison.

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These are wild times we are living in. As of this writing, New Yorkers are all homebound, with only essential businesses operational. It’s an unprecedented calm, yet somewhat eerie, scene for the city that never sleeps.

With most of us home, we are retreating into domicile comforts: cooking up a storm, digging deep into our pantries to use what we have in order to minimize unnecessary trips to the grocery store; tidying up dusty corners; catching up on all the shows and books you’ve been meaning to watch and read, respectively; keeping in touch with loved ones over virtual happy hours; finding any bits of self-care to drown out the news of the day.

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For me, well before the coronavirus pandemic, Vicky Bennison’s Pasta Grannies YouTube channel has always been an online escape. With new episodes airing every Friday, you could reliably find me stationed on the couch, glass of wine in hand, reveling in the handmade artistry of a venerable Italian nonna.

I had a chance to chat with Vicky, who calls both England and Italy home, before COVID-19 invaded our worlds. With the devastating news coming out of Italy, especially, our thoughts went to all the nonnas, many of whom are in their eighties (and up).

“I’ve had so many people write in, all worried about them,” Vicky tells me the other day. “It has been heartening and humbling. We’ve been calling the grandmothers to pass on the world’s best wishes—and so far so good. There have been three deaths in the last couple of months, but none of them were COVID-19 related; the women were in their 90s, and passed peacefully at home. Those that we have talked to have been through worse, of course, with World War II and seem remarkably stoic. They are a good example!”

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Tune in to my chat with Vicky, as we talk about these remarkable women, and afterward, check out her charming Pasta Grannies YouTube channel, where the nonnas’ expertise and deft hands will surely captivate you. Then, get your hands on Vicky’s cookbook of the same name for a good dose of Italian pasta comfort during these trying times and well beyond. There’s also a remarkably simple handmade pici pasta you can make with basic pantry ingredients.

Pasta Grannies: The Official Cookbook: The Secrets of Italy's Best Home Cooks, $20.88 on Amazon

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Photo credit: Vicky Bennison

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