Archive for October, 2010

October 28, 2010

The patient art of loving vegetables

Pea dumplings

I am not a vegetarian. Why? Mixture of things – laziness, difficulty in planning, a hectic lifestyle so environmentally unfriendly that honestly I don’t think the amount of meat I eat makes much difference. I should stop catching all those planes first. And in general, I am not too keen on giving up on anything completely.

Anyway, I am quite aware that mass-produced meat is not good for the environment. I eat as little as I can, which usually means I have meat once or twice a week. This is something I am not very proud of, because it does not stem from any considerable effort: it is  natural to me because I just love vegetables. Vegetables are the sexiest things ever.

October 21, 2010

Pasta for weekday entertainment

Pasta with oven roasted tomatoesI realized I have posted incredibly few pasta recipes, compared to how often I cook it. Often people ask me what common beliefs about Italians are true. One is that we move our hands a lot when we talk. Another one is that we eat a lot of pasta: we are ‘mangiaspaghetti’, and proudly so. Pasta is good, cheap and also healthy, depending on the sauce choice of course. I love pasta and cook it quite often, though maybe not every day.

October 18, 2010

Cooking rice

Risotto with wild mushrooms

Rice is a visual as much as a taste memory of my childhood.  In the flat part of  Northern Italy where I grew up, it is one of the most visible fields out in the landscape, together with corn and wine. Only, corn is easy to spot only in late summer, thanks to its sky-high (for a child) plants. Wines are naked and almost invisible in winter and often the wines are cut low. Rice is impossible to miss.  For a long period of time the fields are flooded and create a beautiful, haunting landscape of water reflecting the sky, where the only solid objects appear to be the few streets and the birds, often lost in the mist, with a few far away brick houses. Then the fields will explode in the most vivid green later, while sprouting, and then turn to darker colours and eventually to yellow.

October 12, 2010

A calabrese stew from Syria

Syrian stewNo, I am not referring to the broccoli – I am talking about the Italian region, Calabria. The other day I borrowed a beautiful cookbook on Jewish cooking all around the world. The book (this is the UK edition – I have it in German) is laced with beautiful pictures by Peter Cassidy and contains sad and interesting stories. The numerous recipes come literally from all corners of the world. Actually the sweets looked like you could die for them, but I am trying to lose weight, so no cakes, for a while (sad, sad world, I know). So I leafed and leafed drooling over the sweets and trying to ignore them at the same time, until I found a stew that looked a bit unfortunate, because it had no picture. The recipe background sounded interesting. Originally from Syria, the family moved to the UK. The story behind the recipe is a funny one: a mother in law trying to sneak some aubergines into the food prepared for her daughter’s husband, who did not like them. Apparently if you peel the aubergines and cook the stew long enough, you are not able to tell what is in it anymore.

October 4, 2010

A Ferrari among the potatoes

La Ratte potato

In the relatively small town where I live, there are many foreigners. More foreigners than ‘original’ Germans, possibly: I asked a friend of mine if she had heard about integration problems here, and she laughed and answered: well, possibly some Germans have a few difficulties …

The Italian community is one of the largest, and  they have been here for roughly two generations: I meet people more or less my age (20-30), who will tell me ‘Anch’io sono Italiano!’,  proud of their origins, and then switch back to German , because actually they were born here and the Italian they speak is the home version, rich of dialect influences, which I often don’t understand.

The guy who sells me potatoes every Saturday, together with his German girlfriend, is the smiling and friendly son of a Sicilian couple. A few weeks ago a new type of potatoes appeared, called ‘La Ratte’, twice as expensive as the normal ones. Salad potatoes, long and twisted. Of course I had to try a few – this is potato heaven after all! ‘You are going to see’ – he told me in Italian   ‘these are the Ferrari of the potatoes’ – and then he added laughing, in German ‘though I would probably sell more if I told the Germans they are the Mercedes..’

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