Lord, bid war’s trumpet cease; Fold the whole earth in peace.—Oliver Wendell Holmes
If you’ve been following my posts this month, you know that I’ve been in Italy at the invitation of the Italian Trade Commission exploring the products of food artisans working in the country’s twenty regions. Throughout May, I’ll be publishing vignettes on some of the food producers I met, both at the 78th annual artisans expo in Florence in April, and subsequently traveling throughout the country. Italian artisans have been making air-cured hams as far back as Etruscan times some 3,000 years ago, originally from the haunches of wild boar. Eventually, pigs were bred and pampered specially for producing prosciutto crudo, […more…]
Meandering through the ancient olive groves owned by producers Marta Consiglia and her brother, Vito Lisi in Miggiano, Puglia, I came upon an olive wood nymph. If we hadn’t captured her on camera, you wouldn’t have believed me. The tree from which she emerged is 500 years old and still producing olives for oil, the lifeblood of a region has been cultivating olives for oil for over 5000 years. Until modern times, much of the oil was crude and inedible, destined for lampante, lamp oil that lit the streets, homes, and churches of Europe. Today, the family produces organic, high quality […more…]
Once, Italian merchants were on their own looking for markets to sell their goods. Today, the Italian Trade Commission facilitates commerce between Italian businesses and the U.S., among other countries, sending buyers, and journalists like myself throughout its twenty regions to explore products for export to an American public that is dazzled by the stroke of that fine Italian hand. My mission on a recent trip to the Mostra Internazionale dell’Artigianato (78th International Handicrafts Trade Fair) in Florence, sponsored by the I.T.C., was to ply the stalls of Italian food and wine producers coming from all over Italy for exceptional […more…]
Around this time of year the food press sounds its perennial advice on pumpkin pie, but what is usually overlooked are the endless dishes, both sweet and savory, that you can make using edible pumpkins and squashes. Probably no one reveres the pumpkin as much as the Italians, and the Venetians in particular, the subject of my most recent article for Zester Daily, “Why Venice Adores its Pumpkins.” Read about the Venetians’ love affair with zucca, and find my heirloom recipe for savory pumpkin or winter squash stew with tomato, dry-cured olives, and garlic.
Summer is my season. I can no more abandon my garden for a beach holiday than leave a bubbling pot on the stove to burn. I love watching my vegetables grow and the perennials exploding in the flower beds, putting on one gorgeous show after another. There are zucchini flowers to pick in the early morning, and sauces to be made when only fresh tomatoes will do; Romas to be oven-dried and frozen, and peppers to be roasted and put up for the winter. Autumn is a bittersweet time for the likes of me, invigorating and melancholy all at once, […more…]
“Cooking with Julia” || MAY 2012 This new feature on my blog called “Cooking with Julia” offers a recipe every month for ingredients in season. I’d might as well begin with artichokes, now in their prime, because I love them, probably more than any other vegetable I can think of. Perish the thought of pickled artichokes, frozen artichoke hearts, or the canned variety. You’ll ruin your recipe if you substitute them when the ingredient list calls for fresh. While artichokes can be tedious to clean–what’s required is snapping off the hard part of the leaves and whittling away the tough […more…]
On a recent morning in Palermo, I found myself a guest at the historic Lanza Tomasi palazzo, where Nicoletta Polo, the Duchess of Palma, was planning a cooking lesson for American students who would arrive after breakfast. I first met Nicoletta some twenty years ago when she was living in New York City. Originally from Venice and an excellent cook, she versed me on the food of the Veneto for research on a book I was writing then, which includes some of her recipes. Today the Duchess lives in the ancestral palace that her husband, Gioacchino Lanza Tomasi, has restored. […more…]