Cooking at Home
In the US, ‘parm’ comes in four generic flavors: chicken, veal, meatball, or eggplant. Usually heavy, goppy and greasy, it’s an overweight distant relative of the sleekly elegant Italian parmigiana. Think Jersey Shore versus the Amalfi Coast.
In Italy, a parmigiana is made from vegetables like eggplant or zucchini, or even combined with some potato. It can be a light main course, or a contorni (vegetable side dish). In the summer, a parmigiana served at room temperature, along with a chilled white wine, is pretty much the perfect hot weather meal.
It’s one dish you shouldn’t mess with. No foams, no vacuum sealed marination with lovage shoots. It’s not improved by a precision presentation, because then it looks like you are aiming for distraction, instead of palate satisfaction. It’s simple and it should remain simple.
Yes, it’s time for my annual ode to prosciutto and melon.
Twenty years ago, Napoli Restaurant was a classic spaghetti joint on the corner of Spring and Sullivan streets in Soho, NYC. Actually, it was ‘our’ spaghetti joint back in the day when we were living cheap and going out didn’t require a mortgage to buy a bottle of wine.
Flash forward to the new enlightened us who live in Italy and have eaten many clams, preferably picking them up at the port from the fisherman, with a cold bottle of local wine in the shopping bag. Here’s the time warp part: eating linguine alle vongole at the Italian seaside is probably cheaper than those dinners at Napoli. See, life isn’t always cruel.
Let me see a show of hands. Are you a sweet or a salty person? Potato chips or gelato? And for the smug amongst us who are voting for umami..sit down. That’s a story for another day.
I’m salty. I’ll take a good pickle over a pastry anytime. Which is a good thing because living in Umbria, you better like salt.
Good sea salt is about 20 cents a kilo in Italy, so we
use it with wild abandon. You can pour an entire kilo onto a baking sheet to roast a fish and not blink a parsimonious eye. Which also means you can take salt for granted, and not pay attention to all the flavor possibilities.
What is a summer shrimp? It’s shrimp that are eaten when the sea is at your doorstep, the air is hot, and the wine is chilled.Read More
All good things must come to an end, and this is the finale for the Aroma Cucina Artichoke Festival. But we’re going out with a delicious bang: pork stuffed artichokes with a lemon sauce. It was the last of our big, globe artichokes and I think they were properly honored and devoured!Read More
Introducing our version of the Mediterranean Diet; it’s called the Del Verziere Lifestyle diet! If followed properly, it will lead to an increased level of personal satisfaction and well-being, maybe a longer life, and possible weight loss.
The Del Verziere Lifestyle Diet goes like this: eat fresh food instead of prepared food, preferably food from your garden, drink red wine, put olive oil into everything, and volunteer for anything that will keep you engaged in your community. And ladies, you should also learn how to walk in high heels on cobblestone because if you can do that, you can live to be 100…with great legs and a firm behind.
And the canning season begins.
A walk over to the orto to get some basil and I’m hit with the realization that there are a ton of ripe tomatoes that need to be dealt with…NOW.
On one hand a kitchen garden is forgiving; if you don’t need any onions, you can leave them in the ground for a few days and no harm done. On the other hand, there is a use it or lose it urgency to ripe tomatoes.
So much for a lazy Saturday afternoon.Read More
TeenBrideWe have a plant in our orto that I call our “Teen Bride”. She keeps having babies, is totally unsupported, and when you pluck a fruit from her, she shudders as if to say, “Thank you!”. Then she stands a little straighter, brazenly sprouting even more fruit.
I like eggplant, don’t get me wrong. I just didn’t LOVE eggplant, until recently. Now, we’re addicted. But this eggplant dip is the cause of our addiction.Read More