Archive | February, 2015

Italian Tradition – Home Cooking

26 Feb

One of the very best things to enjoy in Italy is the food. But what makes it so special? In a word, local. Italians pride themselves on eating and cooking what is locally available, and in many cases, home grown. That means that menus not only change with the seasons, they are also based on long standing regional traditions passed on from one generation to the next, and, of course, dictated by the terroir or environment.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

When I first began traveling to Italy, I always wished that I would be invited into the home of a local. I wanted to experience the lady of the house cooking for her family, to learn from her and then eat what was prepared. It’s hard to walk the narrow streets of small towns and villages and not get caught up in the delicious smells and banter bellowing from the windows at lunch and dinner.

Luckily for us, we now have native Italian friends who invite us into their homes and give us this opportunity.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

But as we travel to other parts of Italy, is there a way to have similar experiences?

Meet Le Cesarine, a group of  “landlords chosen through a careful selection by Home Food in order to preserve and promote the heritage of wisdom, tradition and culture hidden in the thousands of recipes of our regional cuisine.” According to their website,

Home Food has built a network of “Cesarine” all over the peninsula in order to offer the possibility to find in many places in Italy a cosy table, rich of food prepared and maintained for the members only. For the reason that the “Cesarine” do not manage a restaurant in their houses, but invite you to their tables as a guest of the family who shares the passion for the tradition, the land and its tastes, values, which constitute the mission of Home Food.

Home Foods, founded in 2004, is a collaborative effort among several groups in Italy whose goal is to “spread the culture of traditional food interwoven with the culture of the typical products and the particular area.”

If you think about it, Italy has thousands of informally trained household cooks who, without recipes, create incredible meals from starter through dessert. Home Food has tapped into this resource and created a network of cesarine – grandmothers, mothers, aunts and daughters, who are knowledgeable of their local area, passionate about cooking, and willing to share their traditions as they host events in their homes.

Through Home Food, registered members have the opportunity to learn traditional culinary methods, eat traditional meals, and truly experience regional Italian culture in the home of a cesarine.

I learned of this organization through an article by Irene Levine in the Chicago Tribune, dated February 1, 2015. She and her husband had the opportunity to experience a cooking lesson in the home of a cesarine from Bologna. Although I have not yet participated, Irene’s story presented a way for travelers to experience the flavors and culinary traditions throughout Italy as guests in a local home. If your Italy TO DO list includes a mini cooking class, or eating in the home of a local, this might well be your opportunity.

Their calendar includes event dates, locations, recipes, a bit of history, and pricing. And if you partake, I’d love to hear your feedback.

Buon Appetito!

www.homefood.it/en

Ciao,

Judy

 

An Italian Lesson for Valentine’s Day

14 Feb

Roses are red
Le rose sono rosse

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©Blogginginitaly.com

Tomatoes are too
I pomodori sono anche

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©Blogginginitaly.com

I’ll have mine with caprese and pasta
Avrò la mia con caprese e pasta

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©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

And a bit of vino too!
E un po ‘di vino anche!

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

In whichever language sings to you,

Happy Valentine’s Day!
Buon San Valentino!

Ciao,

Judy

 

Homemade Ravioli with Friends

6 Feb

Knowing that we love to make homemade pizza and bread, (well, Len makes it and I eat it), my niece surprised us with this beautiful ravioli rolling pin. Truth be told, neither Len nor I had ever made homemade pasta, nor had we ever thought to do so.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

So there it sat, since Christmas, staring back at us and egging us on…”come try me” it seemed to call out each time we passed by. So we gathered the usual suspects for a day of cooking/baking and added ravioli to the menu. After all, how hard could it be?

Giovanni, Len’s cooking buddy, made incredible dough for baguettes while Len whipped up some delicious Sicilian pizza for us to eat while contemplating the ravioli roller. With vino in hand, we watched the YouTube from Repast, the maker of the rolling pin.

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Confident in our skills, Susanna took to the stove to create a porcini tomato sauce as I made the ricotta pecorino filling.

Since this was my very first pasta making experience, I decided to forego the mixer and do it all by hand. And Giovanni promised to help with the kneading and rolling, so why not.

Did it work? Click on the video produced by Giovanni to find out. And special thanks and musical credit to Andrea Bocelli for serenading us with Romanza and Rapsodia.

Ciao,

Judy

 

Italian Commercials

2 Feb

Last night, while watching the Super Bowl, this town showed up in one of the commercials:

©Blogginginitaly.com

©Blogginginitaly.com

Perhaps unlike most of the millions watching, I recognized it immediately as Pitigliano, Italy. Truly a sight to behold, and once I  saw it, a sight I’ll never forget.

The commercial that followed was so very typical of Italian commercials, creatively presenting a product in a subtle, or not so, sensual/sexual way. This is usually the case, whether the commercial is for gelato, a cleaning product, or a car.

I did a little research on the commercial, and not surprisingly, found that it had been panned by Adweek and other so called advertising experts. Perhaps these critics need to spend a bit more time in Italy, where the commercials are often as fun to watch as the shows.

In case you missed it, here’s the commercial.

Bigger, more powerful, and ready for action!

 

And if you are interested, here’s more on Pitigliano:
https://blogginginitaly.com/2013/07/29/pitigliano/

Ciao,

Judy

 

 

 

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