… Or maybe not, but still, one of the top five, honestly. Baba’ – for those of you not lucky enough to be born in the right place of the world – is a yeast based pastry soaked with sugar syrup and rhum. This is not a proper description of course, it is like saying that the Mona Lisa is a canvas painted with a few oil colors, including black, brown, and yellow. The name, baba’, is the way in which in Naples people say ‘something delicious’. And we are talking about Naples, where they invented pizza.
(Originally posted on 29 November 2008)
It is not properly chilly here. It can get quite discomforting, thanks to the strong atlantic winds, but we seldom get ice in the night. Northern Italy is definitely colder – to me, winter means the damp, iced fog that makes every landscape, even the most urban one, gentler. Anyway, here almost anybody can control their house heating, so we can decide to keep the heating on as little as we like – I actually don’t stand overheated flats anymore, my head starts to hurt. Even if we do keep the heating on, our house is large enough and badly isolated enough to stay reasonably cold, a fact shared by most British houses – will they ever learn how to properly insulate a house, or, for what matters, how to build a straight wall? This being the situation, and since I am always looking for low cal comfort food, soups are a hit. Now in everyday food in Italy soups are nothing luscious, and in my family we don’t use them a lot. They remind of dieting and punishment eating. Of course some of them score in my favourite food ever, but they tend to be complex in preparation and flavour, calling for ‘exotic’ ingredients or lots of handwork: think of pasta e fagioli, a family favourite from Venezia with handmade tagliatelle, or pappa al pomodoro, that can go from distilled and concentrated Mediterranean essence flavours, with the right olive oil, tomatoes and of course wood oven baked bread, to a disgusting acidic slop. But recently any time I make a soup I am so pleased with the simplicity of preparation and cleaning, and the nice and filling results that I wonder why I don’t cook them more often. So yesterday I decided to go for a soup, and to give a go to a cupboard ingredient patiently waiting for its turn, something that apparently is a childhood favourite here in UK: split pea soup.