Happy New Year to all of you!!
Now, rewind to December 24th, 2013 – Christmas Eve dinner, the so called “La cena della vigilia”.
I am still thinking about what I ate for dinner on that day. Why? Because on Xmas Eve Italians eat seafood ( and I go nuts for “i frutti di mare”). Not only they prepare delicious dishes, but they alternate their Holidays menus. Think about it: we are all stuffed and tired of eating meat based delicacies throughout our celebrations. Italians play it smart, they indulge on spaghetti alle vongole, or a great boiled sea bass, together with other frutti di mare scrumptious treats. However, on Christmas day – like most of us – they eat meat.
I am a sinner. Everyone sins. All of us human beings were born sinners. In fact, in Christian moral tradition seven sins are said to be deadly: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony.
Out of these seven sins, I usually have a conflict between two of them – sloth (which refers to laziness) and gluttony, which Pope Gregory I defined as: “seeking delicacies and better quality of food to gratify the vile sense of taste.”
How would you eat this dish? Would you start by eating the rice first, the squid or the pesto? Would you call it fusion, creative cuisine or a concept dish? Anyway we see it, it is a matter of perspective. So is the way we eat our food. If I had to define food in one word, I’d say food is culture. When it comes to food, our preferences – and our choices of what we eat and cook – are shaped by our cultural backgrounds. Food defines who we are and where we come from: Italians eat pasta, Mexicans eat tacos, Americans eat burgers, Chinese people eat dim sum, etc.
Appetizer or main course? When it comes to vegetables, we think about them as appetizers, and – more often – as side dishes.
I had a bunch of zucchini romanesche at home (with their flowers) and before I was off for vacations, I had to make use of them. Since I usually prepare zucchini with pasta or simply as a side dish, I wanted to come up with a main course (with zucchini as “main” ingredient). I thought it was a good idea because zucchinis are fresh and in season, and a meat course would have been heavy with the high temperatures we got in Rome.
Losing an Euro Championship final match to Spain was not an easy thing to digest for Italy, a country with a great football (soccer) tradition. However, this is as far as football I am going to get since I rather write about the one thing Italians and Spaniards can agree on and are proud of …and that is: their culinary tradition.
Last week we had some friends for dinner so I wanted to come up with an appetizer using a recipe from Andalucía, a Southern Region of Spain, Salmorejo, which is a cold soup similar to Gazpacho with the difference that Salmorejo is creamer because it has bread on it. The traditional recipe – named Salmorejo Cordobés because it comes from the city of Córdoba – is topped with hard boiled eggs and Jamón Ibérico (dry-cured Spanish ham).
One of the most popular, versatile and delicious Italian appetizers are bruschette (plural for bruschetta in Italian) or bruschettas.
I love making them anytime of the year since I can choose from a vast array of fresh, seasonal toppings.
However, during this time of the year I get this weird sensation: I don’t know if it’s summer or autumn (judging by the produce available now), just as the wonderful blog Olives and Artichokes cleverly stated on its latest post Summer or autumn?
I am back in “Rome sweet Rome”, and after taking the Photography course – Camerahols – with Roger Stowell, little by little I am adapting to a new way of making pictures.
On my last evening in France, Roger and I decided to cook dinner together – an Italian menu made of an antipasto of eggplant/aubergine/melanzane, and a simple pasta recipe, which will be on my upcoming post.
Today was one of the hottest days of the year in Rome. Temperatures were as high as 37° C (about 99°F), but it felt like 41°C (105°F)!!
One of the things that I discovered in Italy is this wonderful combination of flavours: the sweet taste of red peppers and the acidity of capers. While in Puglia, I remember eating a salad that mixed red peppers, capers, and the taste of earthy and creamy potatoes. Being inspired by these three ingredients and wanting to add a spicy flair to an appetizer, I came up with the following recipe.
“Tita was the last link in a chain of cooks who had been passing culinary secrets from generation to generation since ancient times, and she was considered the finest exponent of the marvelous art of cooking”.
From the Novel Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel.