All tagged Winter

Scarole e Fagioli (Escarole and White Beans)

I could walk for days in Napoli.  Down the Pedementina stairs, past the Pignasecca market through the centro storico, under the streets and even out the city gates.  As I walk, I smell the town.  It is easy to detect who is making stuffed peppers or Genovese or friarielli.  Sometimes I wonder if I hang around below a barred apartment window for long enough whether an ancient nonna in house slippers and curlers might invite me for luncheon.  Mercifully, I still retain a few shreds of dignity and have thusly not allowed this to happen.  YET.

Pasta e Fagioli (Pasta and Beans)

I wanted a caipirinha and feijoada and Ipiranga and Sao Joao.  But then again, I was in Napoli.  I had Aglianico and ragù and all of these crazy people running around town fretting about laundry, public transport strikes and the upcoming soccer match against Real Madrid. I continued singing Águas de Março. If I couldn’t have feijoada than I would make pasta fasule. My Paulistano past and my Napolitano present didn’t seem so dissonant after all. 

Minestra Maritata

Minestra Maritata gave rise to what Americans call “Italian Wedding Soup.”  This soup is not in fact served at weddings.  Maritata means married in Italian and refers to the married flavors of rich meat broth and bitter wintergreens.  This is dish is typical of Napoli’s characteristic coquina povera (poor man’s cuisine) and is often served on the Christmas Day.  I served it a week late because as mentioned, I had no electricity for the Christmas holiday.  You will notice that I add little meatballs or polpettine.  In Naples this is uncommon, however in Agerola it is preferred.  Serve as you wish.

Braised Tardivo (Braised Radicchio)

Tardivo is the king of radicchio.  Heads of it resemble curly purple witch fingers.  It is expensive and nearly impossible to find in America.  But if you chance upon it, don’t be intimidated by its vaguely pernicious looks. Generally when you buy radicchio in America it is a slightly browned ball (which we call Radicchio Rosso or Radicchio di Verona in Italy) that has inexpertly traveled from the Veneto (or the Salinas Valley) to your local supermarket. 

“This was right around the time that arugula was discovered, which was followed by endive, which was followed by radicchio, which was followed by frisée, which was followed by the three M's -- mesclun, mâche, and microgreens -- and that, in a nutshell, is the history of the past forty years from the point of view of lettuce. ” – Nora Ephron

Not long ago, in an age before the internets, many of us in America were also living in the dark ages of iceberg lettuce. Fortunately, our palates have evolved and Whole Foods arrived to set us straight (though whether or not that development is fortunate is still debatable).  Regardless, I will take this moment to declare my earnest love of arugula.  It grows wild outside of our home in Naples, and while I am there, no meal is complete without a simple arugula salad.  I don’t mean to get all Go Ask Alice Waters on you.  Even if I did not have access to wild arugula, I would happily purchase it from the local grocery, and hence this recipe. 

 read a lot of cookbooks as a child.  We only had five and they were like crack to me.  There was a Better Homes & Gardens cookbook from circa 1970. It was covered in clumps of dried flour (also likely from 1970) and had a prominent soy sauce stain after my childhood attempt at making rumaki. Why a seven year old wanted to make a dish consisting of chicken livers and water chestnuts is beyond me. I just knew I always wanted to order it from the local Chinese restaurant Gongs, and my mother would not allow it.  We didn’t eat chicken livers in our house. So I took matters into my own hands.  There was another book I remember well.  I believe it was zealously titled 1,802 Ways to Make Chicken Breast.  I tried cooking from that book.  I never really liked it.