Like any outstanding plate of pasta, a close friendship isn’t always easy to come by.
By Alexandra A Hall
top: Cindy's mother and grandmothers; bottom: Jo’s grandmother and six daughters
Like any outstanding plate of pasta, a close friendship isn’t always easy to come by. And that’s far from the only thing they share. Both take time to create, both benefit greatly from occasional patience, and both need to be flexible (in the pasta’s case, literally). Moreover, both are made better by a good foundation — with pasta that means high-quality ingredients, whereas in friendship it’s the nuts and bolts of human connection: crucial qualities like trust, communication, laughter, and shared interests and experiences.
food & wine “a cookbook centered on gluten-free pastas”
That’s exactly how Cindy Delia Coddington and Josephine Provenzano Hoppe became great friends in the summer of 2019, just after each retired (Coddington from a career in finance, Hoppe from work in technology). They met at a neighborhood gathering in Maine, where Hoppe had just moved and Coddington has a vacation home (she resides in Wellesley the rest of the year). The duo got to talking and immediately found they had heaps of things in common,
from being the eldest of their siblings to growing up around New York City. “It felt like we were separated at birth,” recalls Hoppe. “Our first meeting was reminiscent of when you’re in high school and you meet your first boyfriend and you’re so excited.”
And there was more: they both loved to cook, shared a physical aver- sion to gluten (Coddington is gluten-sensitive, Hoppe has celiac disease) and both come from Italian families. Combine those last three things, and you’ve landed on the reason why they also share another passion: pasta — gluten-free pasta, to be exact.
As a result, they now share yet one more thing: a cookbook centered on gluten-free pastas that they created together during the pandemic and self-published. Titled Senza Glutine: Timeless Italian Dishes for the Gluten Free Palate, it’s the product of all of their above interests, but mostly of their years of friendship. “It became a very personal project
“We were interested in documenting each of our family recipes including those passed down from our mothers and grandmothers.”- Cindy's Coddington
that not only included family stories and recipes,” says Coddington, “but it also tells the story of our friendship.”
The impetus for the project was an online cookbook writing class they both took in January of 2021. “We were interested in documenting each of our family recipes including those passed down from our mothers and grandmothers,” says Coddington, “And what better time to do that than during the pandemic, when you couldn’t do much else?” The class gave them the framework to create books individually, but after talking it over they decided to write it together.
Doing so wasn’t always easy, but they muddled through by using shared documents, together compiling a veritable mountain of family recipes that they adapted to be gluten-free. “We focused on pre-mixed gluten-free flours, which cuts down on time and cost,” says Hoppe, who adds that for the book they tested and recommend those flours that are easily available. (All of that research is summarized in the Gluten Free Pantry section of the book.)
food & wine “generational recipes and memories”
Time was of particular note throughout the selection process. “We’re both known as the cook in our families,” explains Hoppe. “Other family members are wonderful cooks, but they wouldn’t spend the time we do on certain dishes.” So to whittle down the pile of recipes, they used an invention they call the Jackie-Mary Test. “Those are our sisters,” chuckles Hoppe. “And if a recipe seemed too time-consuming or com- plicated for them to want to make, we didn’t include it. We wanted all of the recipes to be accessible to everyone.”
Time also figured in as it applied to their own lives, too. “We’re the first women in our families to combine careers and family,” says Coddington. “So, we know very well that you have to make some com- promises on how long you spend doing things.” To that end, they made sure that 90 percent of the recipes in the book can be made in the time it takes to boil the water.
Most of the recipes can be made with gluten, as well, and the book provides notes in the recipes about how to easily make the switch with- out changing the dish’s taste or texture. Which is why another key standard that Coddington and Hoppe used in selecting recipes was whether each tasted equally good in both gluten-free and gluten-full forms. “No one ever knows they’re eating gluten-free pasta,” says Hoppe.
All of which leads to more togetherness around the table. “We wanted to get rid of the deprivation and isolation for people with diet restrictions,” explains Hoppe. “When people can all eat the same thing instead of needing to prepare and eat a separate meal, it’s more inclusive.” And the reactions to that speak for themselves: In the first three months after its production, the cookbook earned a bestseller ranking on Amazon’s Gluten Free Cookbooks and on Amazon’s Movers and Shakers ranking, and Coddington and Hoppe have appeared on The
Today Show together.
Just as gratifying to them, their families have embraced the cook- book as an assemblage of generational recipes and memories. “One of my brothers hates being on the phone,” Hoppe recalls, “but I got a call from him at 6:30 in the morning because he was beside himself looking at the book.” Coddington echoes her. “We really pushed ourselves in the last six months of creating the book to finish it so we could give it to everyone in the family for Christmas,” she says. “The most touching moment was when I handed it to one of my brothers, who opened it and burst into tears. It’s a very personal book, filled with memories about our aunts and grandparents, and the food they were known for.” And of course, part of that sharing includes younger generations of the family, who now have easy access to recipes like Coddington’s favorite: farinata, a pizza made with chickpea flour and water. “It’s so easy and not that well known in America,” she explains. Or one of Hoppe’s go-to recipes — clams oreganata, which can be served as an appetizer or adapted to become a main, once you’ve included the likes of filet of sole or lobster. “It took me six months to develop,” she says. “With its lemon and wine and breadcrumbs, it’s delicate and fragrant.”
Meanwhile, they’re already brainstorming ideas for a second book, and are starting to compile more recipes. “The first book was focused on flours and products off the shelf,” says Hoppe. “The next one may be more about naturally gluten-free things like grains. Or maybe gluten-free around the world. We’re really interested to see where this whole journey brings us.”
“It’s a second act,” confirms Coddington, referring to not any one book, but the entire endeavor. “First and foremost, it’s a friendship. Next, it’s a passion project and a business. Both of us spent our careers in very left-brain fields. Yet we both had a creative bent that was latent for years because work consumed us. Now we have that chance.”
And that goes for their personal partner- ship, too. “To have as deep a friendship as this, you usually would have met when you were very young,” says Hoppe. “But we jumped into the opportunity to do something we love together. It’s a fairly new friendship but it feels like a lifetime.”
Available at Amazon ($40) and Wellesley Books, 82 Central St., Wellesley, 781-431-1160. For more information, check the website www.2lotsover.com.
SPAGHETTI AL LIMONE (SPAGHETTI WITH LEMON SAUCE)
Adapted from Senza Glutine: Timeless Italian Dishes for the Gluten Free Palate
Spaghetti al Limone is a specialty of the Amalfi coast, where the best lemons are grown. This dish is a perfect example of simple sophistication using ingredients that are in your pantry and fridge. We’ve chosen a healthier version that eliminates cream and butter but doesn’t sacrifice flavor.
Barilla gluten-free spaghetti works well in this recipe without changing the taste or texture of the dish. Note that most gluten-free pasta is packaged in 8- or 12-ounce boxes.
1 lb. spaghetti
3 lemons, zested and juiced
4 oz. of parmesan or Romano cheese, finely grated, plus more for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper ½ tsp. salt
4 Tbsps. extra virgin olive oil
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Partially cook spaghetti in the boiling water, stirring occasionally until very firm to the bite. The spaghetti will finish cooking in the lemon sauce.
While the spaghetti is cooking, zest and juice the lemons and combine in a small bowl.
In a large sauté pan, add the zest and juice, olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir until well mixed and very smooth.
When the spaghetti is partially cooked, add it to the sauté pan while reserving ½ to 1 cup of the pasta water.
Add the reserved pasta water a little at a time, stirring it in until the pasta is lightly sauced but not drenched.
Simmer for five minutes or until the spaghetti is fully cooked. Remove from stove, place in serving dish, add cheese and toss.
Before serving, sprinkle with the additional cheese for garnish.