Miriam Leonardi has died. She was 78.
My wife and I knew her well for 39 years. She was sui generis. Miriam made La Buca a wonderful place to enjoy a true Emiliana country meal "down by the Po." She was a (probably "the") custodian of a gastronomic tradition that is unfortunately fading. Her great grandmother started the trattoria,followed by her grandmother, and then her mother Elena, who we were also fortunate to know.
La Maestra of the stove, Miriam's dishes were simple, but wonderful, in keeping with the recipes handed down through the generations. Whether it was her pastas, her culatello, frog's legs, or the snail dishes ... the snails brought by a local who gathered them and brought them to the kitchen door just in time for lunch... she was in her element in the kitchen.
But it was more than that. She was kind, giving, warm, modest and had a great big smile; Miriam was truly a lovable woman. She couldn't do enough for her clientele and they rewarded her by coming back and back and back. Often we would see four generations of a family happily eating at Sunday lunch.
We were fortunate to be able to go to La Buca often, sometimes two or three times a year. It was always the same, very good food that stayed true to its roots, that wonderful cellar with the culatelli, and Miriam, larger than life. They don't make them like her anymore.
She is survived by her daughter Laura, her son-in-law Luca and her grandson Filippo.