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BELLISSIMA! A VERY YUMMY ITALIAN WEEKEND

italian
PUBLISHED JANUARY 6, 2014 BY FASHIONFOODANDFLIRTS
FashionFoodandFlirts.wordpress.com

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fashion, food and flirts

italian

Italian food. I still have to meet the first person who doesn’t like it. And to be honest, I don’t think I will ever meet him or her, because it is simply physically and emotionally impossible not to be swept away by the real flavours of Italian cuisine.

Just so you know, when I’m talking about Italian food, I do not mean spaghetti Bolognese or spaghetti and meatballs.

the horror

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with these two dishes- they are actually pretty yummy- but they are just not really Italian.

No, when I’m talking about Italian food, I’m talking about food that kicks you in the balls. Food that is so full of flavour, freshness and depth, it will take your breath away. Real, honest Italian food does not look dainty or pretty. It is gutsy and robust.

The bigger the plate, the better.

Now that is a…

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It’s not only the old fir trees that make this photo so awe-inspiring. It’s the clouds across the Dolomite mountains in the background. But most importantly, it is the fact that the image is reflected in waters of Lake Carezza (lit. ‘caress’) with circular ripples moving outwards.

carezza-lake-reflection(Photograph by Antonio Chiumenti)

“Lake Carezza is a pearl of the Dolomites. Nestled between an ancient forest of grand firs and Latemar mountain, it’s a place of legends and beauty—a nymph lives under its emerald waters. I threw a little stone in the water to add a little mystery to the scene.” (Antonio Chiumenti)

(This photo and caption were submitted to the 2013 National Geographic Photo Contest.)

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When I am really honest with myself, this is what I would love an Italian grocery store to be…

store

They would carry everything you need. Maybe not everything you want… but definitely everything you need.

baccala(Baccalà!)

Pasta, bread, cheese, meat, onions, garlic, peppers, tomatoes, oregano, basil, rosemary… maybe some fruits and nuts.

castagne-arrostite(Castagne arrostite!)

They might also have a few little things extra.

espresso-percolator

Espresso percolators…

playng-cards

… Italian playing cards…

heirloom-pizzelle-iron-1

… pizzelle irons.

My first wife, Susan, and I were right around the corner from such a place when we lived in St. Clair & Dufferin neighbourhood in Toronto in the late 70s.

italian-vegetable-market(Frutta e verdura!)

What I wouldn’t give to live once again a 2-minute walk from a place like this!

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How weird would it be going from day-to-day speaking your native language with an Italian accent, even though you’ve never set foot in Italy. [1] 

As the mangia-cakes over at United-Academics.org report, it can happen.

(Nicolas Cage in ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ – Worst Italian accent ever)

This rare medical condition is known as the Foreign Accent Syndrome. When suffering a brain injury, such as a stroke, the speech center of the brain can get affected. As a result, a speech impediment can occur that may cause a patient to pronounce his or her native language with an accent that to the ear of the listeners may be mistaken as foreign.

(Carlo Rota as Yakavetta [2] in ‘Boondock Saints’ – 2nd worst Italian accent ever)

Watch the video below to hear the speech of a woman suffering from the Foreign Accent Syndrome.

Per la miseria!

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Mariën, P, Verhoeven, J, Wackenier, P, Engelborghs, S, & De Deyn, P (2009). Foreign accent syndrome as a developmental motor speech disorder Cortex, 45 (9), 870-878 DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2008.10.010

[1] It wouldn’t have been weird for me since I grew up with everyone around me speaking with Italian accents. If anything, I’d have blended in better!

[2] N.B: The Italian alphabet does not have the letter ‘k’ (or the letters j, w, x or y, for that matter). Maybe that explains the abysmally bad accent.

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Have you ever eaten anything that you thought was one thing and then, after it was in your mouth, you discover to your horror that it was something entirely different?

(Nonna cooking up some Timbits)

Let me give you an example. Italian grandmother cooking up some meatballs in a skillet, placing the cooked meatballs onto a platter. Little five-year-old grandson comes into the room, sees a platter of what he thinks are Timbits. Child asks his sweet, adorable grandmother if he can have some Timbits. Nonna, who has a sick sense of humour, says, “Sure!” Kid bites into Timbit expecting a sweet, tasty treat and, instead, gets a mouthful of meat, fat, garlic, onions and parsley. Grandson makes horrible icky face. Nonna falls over laughing, thinking the whole shtick is the cutest thing she’s ever seen. Kid bursts into tears and spends years on psychiatrist’s couch trying to get over culinary child abuse.

(Some restaurants are a bit TOO dark!)

I had occasion to witness another example of this kind of evil subterfuge ages ago when some alleged friends of mine and I were having dinner in a dimly lit steakhouse. Gullible Friend was having some difficulty making out what was on his plate through the gloom of the dining room. He lifted a forkful of something and peered at it, trying to figure things out. Evil Friend helpfully suggested that it was mashed potatoes. Gullible Friend smiled and put the forkful into his mouth. His eyes bugged out and he began choking. Evil Friend cackled at her cleverness in fooling someone into eating a heapin’ helpin’ of horseradish.

(Mashed potatoes… or death on a spoon? [Photo Eve Fox])

I’ve never been a fan of practical jokes. I just don’t think they’re funny.

Practical jokes involving anything that needs to be ingested as part of the gag are, to me, particularly not funny.

People grimacing or spitting out food does not crack me up in the least.

Stop it.

Now…

Would you care for a Timbit?

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Saw this over at Jamie Oliver’s website. Sounds wonderful, especially on hot days when you don’t feel like doing a lot of cooking.

A really simple, quick and amazingly tasty pasta dish which always hits the spot and will impress your mates. Try baking some fish filets over the herby tomatoes… it’s fantastic.

 (© David Loftus)

Ingredients

• 500g mixed red and yellow cherry tomatoes, halved
• 150g good black olives, stoned
• 1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
• 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
• a bunch of fresh lemon basil, leaves picked
• a bunch of fresh marjoram, leaves picked
• 10 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 400g spaghetti or linguine
• sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

In a large bowl, scrunch the tomatoes with your hands to slightly mush them. Mix in the olives, garlic and vinegar. Tear in the basil and marjoram leaves and pour in the olive oil. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.

Cook your pasta in salted boiling water according to the packet instructions until al dente. Drain and quickly toss in with the tomatoes. Call your guests around the table, then taste the juice at the bottom of the bowl and adjust the seasoning if you feel it needs it. Serve right away.

Stay cool!

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This simple Italian pasta dish is a wonderful change from spaghetti with tomato sauce. (Not that there’s anything wrong with it!)

OK… this dish (as the name suggests) contains basically three main ingredients:

Linguine (You can also use spaghetti, spaghettini or even fettucine, if you prefer);

Aiglo (i.e. Garlic. If you’re a big garlic fan, add more!); and

Olio (i.e. Oil, specifically olive oil. Get a good kind. A nice green extra virgin olive oil)

The garlic is a key element, so it is crucial that you don’t overcook the garlic. It doesn’t look all that great and, what’s worse, browned garlic tastes bitter and will spoil the flavour of the dish.

I personally like adding red chili pepper flakes but if you have an aversion to hot and spicy, feel free to leave it out. Same with the parsley. Some people love it; some find it annoying.

This recipe yields 4 servings.

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound  linguine (or spaghetti, spaghettine, fettucine)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves minced garlic (adjust up or down depending on taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper, flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley (optional)
  • coarse salt, and freshly cracked black pepper
  • grated parmesan or romano cheese (or a 50-50 blend of both)

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente (about 8 minutes).
  2. Drain.
  3. While pasta is cooking, heat oil over low heat in a small saucepan.
  4. Add garlic and saute just until garlic softens but does not brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. DO NOT OVERCOOK!!
  5. Remove from heat.
  6. Add pepper flakes to garlic/oil sauce (optional).
  7. Toss sauce and pasta in a large bowl with tongs.
  8. Add salt and pepper and cheese to taste.
  9. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley (optional).

Additional Twists:

  • Cook the oil and garlic in a large heavy skillet and add the cooked pasta directly into the pan, turning off the heat and tossing well. Transfer to large bowl or individual plates and sprinkle with cheese and parsley;
  • In the large skillet, sauté some thinly slivered green pepper and/or sweet onions first, then add the chopped garlic 2 minutes before the green pepper/onions are done. This gives the green pepper/onions a ‘head start’ and doesn’t overcook the garlic.
  • For extra flavour, add in a tin of anchovies with or instead of the green peppers! The anchovies kind of melt when cooked so it spreads evenly throughout the sauce.

Kosher Korner:

  • This dish is basically pareve (neither meat nor dairy), until the last minute, since you add the cheese right at the end. Leave the cheese out and you can use this dish as the pasta course in a fleishig (meat) meal.
  • NB: While this dish (without the cheese) can be served at a meat meal, if you are going to add anchovies be careful not to serve the pasta together with or at the same time as meat (i.e. adding meatballs to it or as a side dish to meat) because of the prohibition against consuming fish and meat at the same time. There is, however, no such prohibition against serving it before a meat course… just not at the same time.

Have fun with this quick and easy dish.

Buon appetito!

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