Archive for June, 2010

June 30, 2010

Sardegna


Chia beach

“I’d like to have half a kilo of cherries, please”

“You know” said the old lady on the other side of the counter “I just had them for lunch, they are really sweet. But don’t buy more, or you’ll get problems with your belly!”

“You are right. And what about the prunes? Which ones should I buy?”

“Try the yellow ones – you see, they don’t look like much. They are small and irregular. But do taste one. You don’t need to wash them, they are unsprayed”

“hmm… delicious”

“They are an old variety, ripening right now in the fields. Our producers sell them at quite a high price, but I think they are worth it.”

Sardinia boasts  great landscapes, lots of historical sights, fresh mediterranean food with a unique and interesting twist, and the most beautiful and clean sea. But above all, what really won my heart was how nice the people were. The other thing that filled my eyes with tears as soon as I arrived there was the smell, and that is really difficult to describe. I tend to forget it as soon as I leave. It is the distinctive  smell the Mediterranean Sea has, and that has become the signature of homesickness to me: warm and salty water, completely different from the way the ocean smells, and all the typical bushes that grow by it,  rosemary, sage, helichrysum, myrtus, wild fennel. The thirsty, dry land. Dried grass. Olive trees.

The way Sardegna smells

Trying to capture a smell

June 9, 2010

Green dips

Wasabi and avocado dip

This is a tasty and quick dip I ate at a Japanese friend’s house. She mixed it with a little mayo and served it with tomato and lettuce salad; I omitted the mayo and went for carrots. Both ways, it is a pleasant change if you like wasabi (which I do) and if you have had enough Guacamole (which I don’t). It is probably not as good as Guacamole, then, but it is still quite good.

I also give you the recipe of guacamole as I prepare it. A friend of mine taught it to me, when she came back after a long stay  in South America.  I did not like avocado that much then, and Guacamole was an eye-opener. She was my best friend when we were children, and we have lost and found each other a million times since then. She now lives in South America again, and I don’t have much chances for contact. We occasionally exchange news, because, twenty years later, our mothers  – who  still live next door to each other – became close friends. Still,  I miss her. She’ll always have the most beautiful smile I’ve ever seen.

Avocado and Wasabi dip

Ingredients:

1 ripe avocado, peeled and stoned
few drops of lemon juice
salt
1 scant teaspoon wasabi (start with a little less if you don’t like hot food)

Method: Mix everything using a food processor or a fork. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve immediately, or it will turn black.

Guacamole

Ingredients:

1 ripe avocado, peeled and stoned
juice of one lime
at least one fresh red hot chilli pepper, or more to taste
2  spring onions, most of the green part removed
salt

Method:  I prefer it a little chunky, so I use a fork to smash the avocado and chop chilli and onions. When I don’t have time I just use a food processor. Mix together, add lime juice and salt, taste and add more according to taste. Serve immediately.

June 6, 2010

What to do with chickpeas flour

Chickpeas flour gnocchi

I am in a memory mood in this period, maybe because it is a long time since I last felt at home. Here is another dish inspired by childhood memories. Before I was born, my parents lived for a couple of years in Tuscany. Now, Italian cooking does have some generic national guidelines, but it is mainly regional. This specificity was much stronger thirty years ago: it was not so easy to find the right ingredients outside of the production area, and what is grown is so local that sometimes you will find it in a radius measuring  no more than ten kilometers. This is due to geography:   Italy is full of hills and mountains, and features a variety of climates, since it  has considerable altitude and latitude differences, and  differently exposed coastline; we even boast one humid, foggy  plane. On the other hand, Italy does have a massive, relatively recent  internal mobility, due to the presence of many low employment areas. So a lot of people move, and they bring their recipes with them.

June 1, 2010

Gelatine 2.0

Strawberry and wine jelly

The traditional everyday desserts at my grandparent’s home were two. In winter, it was pears, or apples, with some dried prunes, cooked with a little wine, sugar and spices; in summer, it was fresh fruit marinated in wine: strawberries in spring, peaches in summer, various berries when we picked them up in the mountains. My father still retains a passion for these desserts. My mother hates them. I have a kind of mixed feeling for them.

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