Archives For pasta

spaghetti alla carbonara

Spaghetti alla carbonara just like it’s served in Rome.

 

After pizza, spaghetti alla carbonara is probably Italy’s most famous dish, but also its most controversial. Everybody knows that this plate of bacon-and-egg pasta is supposed to have a rich, creamy, sauce, but few know the real secret of how to achieve it. Outside—and even inside—Italy, people often cheat and add a little (or sometimes a lot of) cream to get the right consistency. But to purists (and even not so purists), cream might as well come in bottles with the number 666 printed on the label. They will tell you, with a stronger than religious fervour, that it is not part of the original recipe. Nor, for that matter are peas.

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It’s no secret that I love aubergines, or eggplants as some of you call them, or … well for argument’s sake let’s call them melanzane, the Italian word. So, it’s no secret that I love melanzane and would probably eat them every day, if I could. When cooked properly, they have the same mouth-puckering strength as a quality mature cheese. It’s no secret that I love cheese, or fromage, or … well let’s call it formaggio.

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Florence Market

At the market with Paolo.

 

Have you ever dreamed the Italian dream? Waking up, let’s say in Florence, on a Saturday morning; taking a stroll to the local market to buy fresh produce; making fresh pasta with your own hands; having an aperitivo with friends before sitting down to enjoy the fruits of your culinary labours?

Last week, I was lucky enough to have been invited to live this experience in the capable hands of Eating Europe Food Tours and the Florence Food Studio at their cooking school in the authentic Santo Spirito quarter of the city. You may remember that last year I reviewed their excellent Other Side of Florence tour.

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Bologna

Bologna la rossa

 

La dotta, la rossa, la grassa. These are the nicknames given to the city of Bologna by Italians. La dotta (the educated) because it boasts one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world. La rossa (the red) because of its distinctive red-brick architecture. And la grassa (the fat)? Because of its amazing food of course!

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frittata di maccheroni

Frittata di maccheroni

 

The more I learn about southern Italian cuisine the bigger the differences I see between that and northern cuisine. And, to be honest, nothing surprises me. I was recently taught this recipe by a good friend of mine from Naples and it’s already become one of my go-to favourites. As the name suggests―maccheroni in Italian is used to refer to pasta in general rather than a specific kind―this can me made with any type of pasta. In fact, it’s often used as a way of using up leftovers. I already knew that you could make delicious arancini with leftover risotto to avoid re-heating (and therefore overcooking and ruining) the rice. But this recipe is the same with pasta. Alternatively, as with this recipe, you can cook the pasta specially and just enjoy eating the dish for its own sake.

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