I LOVE ITALY

Milan, 13 May 2014

My wife and I have finally arrived in Italy. On our way home from the station last night we dropped into our local supermarket to buy stuff for supper. We chose simple fare which required no cooking. We started with mozzarella di bufala, mozzarella made in the south of Italy from the milk of water buffaloes

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My wife pours a teaspoonful of extra virgin olive oil on her mozzarella, but I like it on its own. Like that you can really appreciate the delicate milky juices oozing from the cheese when you put a slice of it in your mouth.

We then had a plate of bresaola, air-dried beef from the Valtellina, an Alpine valley to the north of Milan. It is at its best with a drizzle of lemon juice and olive oil.
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We followed this up with a plate of cooked ham and cantaloupe melon. Italians will normally eat their melon with raw ham
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but I prefer it with cooked. That was always the way I ate it in France.

Our dessert consisted of nespole (loquat in English), a fruit I had never tried before coming to Italy thirty years ago.
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Its yellow flesh is succulent and quite tart, and it contains very beautiful large, brown, glistening stones.

We washed this all down with a Dolcetto red wine from the Langhe region in Piedmont.
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That’s all. Quite simple, as I said. And all from the local supermarket.

I love Italy.

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Mozzarella di bufala: http://giacomoleopardi.provincia.venezia.it/trasformazioni%20alimentari/IMMAGINI/Formaggi%20Alberto,%20Alessio%20&%20Mattia/mozzarella%20di%20bufala.bmp (in http://giacomoleopardi.provincia.venezia.it/trasformazioni%20alimentari/mozzarella_di_bufala.htm)
Bresaola, lemon, oil: http://www.livingalifeincolour.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/meimanrensheng.com-bresaola.jpg (in http://www.livingalifeincolour.com/recipes/bresaola-air-dried-beef-with-olive-oil-and-lemon-lombardia/)
Melon and ham: http://www.cookingwithpatty.com/italian/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/prosciuttomelone.jpg (in http://www.cookingwithpatty.com/italian/recipe/cantaloupe-with-ham-prosciutto/)
Nespole: http://casabenessere.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/nespole.jpg (in http://casabenessere.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/nespole/)
Langhe region: http://blog.wineowine.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/le-langhe.jpg (in http://blog.wineowine.com/le-langhe/)

TOMATO

Beijing, 28 February 2013

Chinese food is great. No doubt about it. But tomatoes don’t figure very highly in Chinese cooking. In all those banquets I’ve been invited to, I’ve seen a few tomato slices swimming in soups and sauces, I’ve been offered a dish which seems to consist of scrambled eggs drowned in weak tomato sauce, and that’s it. Except for one more thing. Almost uniformly, at the end of the banquets, they insist on serving cherry tomatoes with the fruit! Of course, from a biological point of view they are correct, but everyone knows that tomatoes are a vegetable! I mean, the US Supreme Court decided so, in 1893, in the case Nix v. Hedden. And if the US Supreme Court has decided so, who are we to disagree?

Yet here I am again, faced with a plate of fruit on which sit a number of cherry tomatoes. As I moodily spear at the damned things, my thoughts float off to another place, to another country, where the tomato reigns supreme, cooking-wise.

I dream of pizza, the simplest kind, pizza margherita. Just tomato sauce and mozzarella, with a basil leaf or two, no more.

pizza-margherita

I will accept a few more toppings, in a pizza quattro stagioni for instance. But I quite disapprove of a certain tendency to pour on the toppings. Keep it simple! Because the beauty of pizza is the marriage of the tomato sauce

passata di pomodoro-1

with the mozzarella

And not just any mozzarella. Mozzarella di bufala, mozzarella from the Italian buffalo, found only in the south of Italy

mozzarella-di-bufala-1

I keep on spearing my cherry tomatoes …

I dream of spaghetti al pomodorospaghetti al pomodoro-1

Or of penne al ragù

penne al ragu-1

Or cavatappi

cavatappi

Or farfalle, or maccheroni, or tortiglioni, or conchiglie, or orecchiette

I begin to sweat.

I dream of meats and fish in tomato-based sauces. Ossobuco

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Pollo alla cacciatora

pollo alla cacciatora-1

Brodetto

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I viciously stab the last cherry tomato on my plate.

It’s time for the final toast. We shake hands all around, we offer each other our gifts, and I head for the car.

Maybe I can persuade my wife to make me a small plate of spaghetti al pomodoro when I get home …

pomodori-1

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Pizza Margherita: http://www.epocaedesign.it/filealbum/349_1.jpg
Passata di pomodoro: http://static.multipino.pl/photoOffer/p/438910_p.jpg
Mozzarella di bufala: http://www.lucianopignataro.it/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/mozzarella-di-buafala.jpg
Spaghetti al pomodoro: http://www.pearlcafe.com.vn/menupic/SpaghettI%20chay.jpg
Penne al ragù: http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2765/4032992954_fd9232b230.jpg
Cavatappi: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-Fbwd__6dPZA/TsKuYMX5skI/AAAAAAAAAJM/rxVZS1br_XU/s1600/capatevvi1.jpg
Ossobucco: http://us.123rf.com/400wm/400/400/photohomepage/photohomepage1201/photohomepage120100141/12533926-ossobuco-in-umido-con-pomodoro-e-rosmarino-e-pure-di-patate-e-salsa-di-pomodoro.jpg
Pollo alla cacciatora: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-p_oIFRg7524/TkJE2h9eAjI/AAAAAAAAHPQ/ZdU5k1OMVl0/s1600/DSCN6153-.jpg
Brodetto: http://img1.2spaghi.it/ristoranti/img/big/al-metro-20091123-235147.jpg
Pomodori: http://www.assesempione.info/images/stories/gennaio2012/pomodori.jpg