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Blogger Spotlight: The Fit Mediterranean

Dani, raised in Italy and now carving out her piece of the Shanghai food landscape, talks family traditions, go-to ingredients, and eating as an expat!
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Meet Dani!

Dani is the mastermind and recipe developer behind the blog, The Fit Mediterranean (formally Expat Cucina).

Dani grew up in a picturesque town called Lecce, nestled on the “heel of the boot” in southern Italy. Like many traditional families in this sun-soaked Mediterranean region, she spent most of her youth under the loving care of her grandmother.

Dani’s grandmother taught her many things, but most importantly, she passed along a passion for cooking by sharing traditional recipes and family culinary secrets.

So, how did Dani end up in Shanghai? It all started when she began studying Chinese in college. She had always been interested in languages and thus began a long journey that eventually led her to move to China. However, she found that living in China made it difficult to find proper ingredients to prepare a Western meal without breaking the bank.

Dani explains, “Grocery shopping in Shanghai can be somewhat of an ‘adventure.’ Lots of places now cater to expat needs but often have high prices and may be lacking in selection. Thus, I decided to start my blog, The Fit Mediterranean. Through the blog, I can share my family’s culinary traditions, provide advice about finding ingredients in China, and suggest substitutions.”

What was your favorite childhood meal?

I was a very picky eater growing up and would turn down cakes, pasta, and meat. I always preferred fish and seafood and have always been a super fan of fruits and veggies.

However, my biggest love as a child were these chocolate cookies that my mom used to buy for me at the local grocery shop.

They were my very favorite and I used to eat them in quite an odd way: I first filled up a large bowl with the cookies, then poured hot milk and mashed them around until they made a thick and dense cream, which I used to scoop out while watching cartoons on TV. This was my everyday breakfast and I think I ate this “lava” of cookies and milk until I was 13!

What's in your bag and what are your kitchen essentials?

In my bag, you will always find an umbrella, a pair of sunglasses, my wallet, my bike lock keys, headphones, lipstick, and lip gloss.

When it comes to ingredients, in my kitchen you will always find plenty of fresh fruit, eggs, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds (chia, sunflower, and almonds), a few avocados, fresh lemons, and a good serving of fresh fish!

As for cooking tools, I can’t imagine my life without a good chef’s knife to chop vegetables and slice meat, and also my KitchenAid with all its attachments.

What is the best or weirdest thing you've ever eaten in your travels?

Best thing I have ever eaten is White Wine Scampi made in a small restaurant in Porto Fino (Da U Batti)! The dish is delicious and made with a secret recipe!

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

Mmm, I am proud of myself every time I open my fridge, grab what’s inside, and am able to make a tasty and beautiful meal. Simple things like that make me happy and proud. Oh, I am also super proud of being able to race; I have successfully finished several triathlon races in China. For someone like me, affected by spondy, every race is a small personal achievement!

Describe the kitchen of your dreams.

My dream kitchen would be bright and surrounded by windows overlooking the ocean. It would be large with a big center island and lots of vintage decorations.

My perfect day would be...

On a boat, offshore, reading a book and sipping limonite.

I believe any problem can be solved with...

A smile and a positive attitude.

When I need liquid courage, I drink...

Bullet coffee!

My guilty pleasure is...

Double chocolate chip cookies.

What are your favorite recipes on the app, and why?

I love anything with salmon, avocados, or fresh fruit.

What is your advice to people who aspire to be in your field or do similar projects?

All I can say is, don’t be afraid to get out there and show the world what you are capable of. Going public (publishing recipes and food photos on the internet) exposes us to lots of positive comments (which makes us happy) but also invites criticism. Don’t let critics bring you down. Keep working at what you love and always try to do your best.

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