Besides home-grown tomatoes, green beans from my garden are the vegetable I most look forward to in summer. Right after my beans seeds went into the ground and my thoughts turned to eating them, it occurred to me to write Love Me Tender, a story for Zester Daily, about how I like them best. You may want to know my favorite way to cook them if you love them as much as I do, and if you don’t, you might change your mind after you read here.
Spaghetti with tomato sauce are the dream of Italian cuisine, a magic mix of ingredients, wisdom and history that a very few other dishes in the world have. Unfortunately this dish is manipulated, tormented and crucified almost everywhere. –Rosario Scarpato, Honorary President Itchefs-GVCI Once every year, Rosario Scarpato, Neapolitan-born gastronome, writer, film maker/director, and commander-in-chief of ItChefs-GVCI (Virtual Organization of Italian Chefs) makes a global appeal for the preservation of authentic Italian food by live video conference from the amphitheater of the International Culinary Center (ICC) in New York City, reaching 2,000 Italian chefs in 70 countries. “People all over the world are cooking […more…]
Some time back, I wrote a post, “When Bitter is Sweet,” about broccoli rapini, the Italian greens that have taken this country by storm since Balducci’s, the legendary Greenwich Village Italian grocery, imported them here in 1973. Because so many readers said they were relieved to finally learn how to cook them properly to soften their bitter edge, I decided to find out how and why the delicious Brassica, about which there is still such a mystique, was transplanted from the heel of the Italian boot to the farmlands of California. Here’s the update, complete with Andy and Nina Balducci’s […more…]
Recently, Oldways Preservation Trust asked me to solve a culinary mystery for the new “Lost Recipes Project” on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. Oldways Preservation Trust is a food think tank with a mission to preserve culinary traditions and artisanal foods. My task for NPR was to trace the roots of a listener’s elusive family recipe for an unusual type of ravioli. The detective work will draw you into the story of one Italian family, their traditions and food. Listen to the story of how I tracked down the long-lost recipe on the audio segment of “The Salt,” NPR’s food blog […more…]
The Italians love good food, fast days or not. All kinds of special dishes have popped up over the centuries to get around papal restrictions designed to curtail excess (sumptuary laws), for Lent and other holy days. Take the fast day salad. There are many resourceful variations on the theme. What all have in common is that they’re meatless. This one is a composed warm salad of creamy boiled potatoes, canned tender Italian blue fin tuna filets, hard-cooked eggs, and asparagus. Italian tuna, called ventresca (stay tuned for a future post about this as yet under-appreciated delicacy), comes from the belly […more…]
Frost has snuffed out the last breath of Indian summer in New York, but warm up with these images of Sicily. From Piero Catalano, the artisan food producer and master vinegar maker I met in Trapani province this past September (see “A New Vinegar is Born,” 26 October post), a postscript in pictures. Next, go make yourself some stracotto (Italian extra slow-simmered meat stew) with aged vinegar…stay tuned for the recipe…. Piero Catalano’s sun-dried tomatoes and other local products on the shelves in his Trapani shop, KusKus. The most precious item is his vinegar. Since then he has picked all […more…]