Archives For lunch

 

polpette

Polpette biscotte al finocchio

Italian food may be simple, but often it’s not fast: but that’s one of its charms. Good ingredients, cooked well. It’s no surprise therefore that the Slow Food movement started in Italy. Traditionally, a lot of the more time-consuming dishes would have been cooked by housewives while their husbands were out at work, and so often consist of dishes which can cook more or less unattended while you get on with other chores. A good example is the authentic ragù which would be cooked slowly for about three hours. If you’ve ever tasted a three-hour ragù, you’ll appreciate why.

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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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Zuppa fredda di melone

Zuppa fredda di melone

 

This time of year in Italy can be hot and I mean really hot. In Venice, temperatures and humidity soar making you want to leave the city and run away to the countryside. From a food point of view your body demands fresh, lean flavours to cool it to the core. Luckily, nature comes to the rescue by providing us with a large variety of summer fruit and vegetables of which a personal favourite is melon. At this time of year, Venetian shops are piled high with melons in all varieties and colours and this recipe works equally well with any of them.

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