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Saturday, February 20. 2021
Pic is a Northern Italian classic: Veal Tonnato
When I grew up, "Italian food" meant various forms of wheat (no egg) pasta with red glop on top, and maybe meatballs or eggplant. That, plus pizza and Italian grinders. Also, Lasagna I guess, made from an American cookbook.
They don't make grinders in Italy, and their pizzas aren't any good in my view. (I gave up on them. American wood-cooked pizzas can be pretty good, though. Crust has to be half-burnt.)
This was because most of the Italian immigrants to America were from a poor southern Italy with Neapolitan food traditions. To tell the truth, I do not care too much for that stuff but I am willing to eat it if I am starving. I do like a good Pasta Fagiole but I can make the best one you have ever had, and I will have a Bolognese on Tagliatelle. Call me a food snob.
Our best Italian meals have been in Umbria, which is where Romans take dining expeditions by the busload - so they can drink and gorge on wild pig, and get a ride home. No good Italian food tastes wonderful without wine. If you're on the wagon, it's not so wonderful unless it includes truffles or Balsamic. They do not use much wine in their cooking because you are supposed to be sipping it as you eat. Wine is expected to be an accompaniment, blending in your mouth.
I had a fine Lasagna in Verona for lunch, in a sidewalk cafe near the Arena. No red sauce, heavy on the nutmeg which makes sense, given the history of being part of the Venetian Empire for a while. One Italian dish I really wanted to try in Italy was Vitello Tonnato - Veal with Tuna Sauce. Mrs. BD makes an excellent version, but somehow we missed it on our last trip. Also wanted to try their Chicken Liver with Balsamic, but missed that too. That's OK - food isn't everything - and we know some great Italian restaurants in NYC.
Italian Food Regional Cooking: Southern Italy
Italian Food Regional Cooking: Central Italy
Italian Food Regional Cooking: NorthWest Italy
Italian Food Regional Cooking: NorthEast Italy
Italian Food Regional Cooking: Sicily and Sardinia
Northern Italians eat very well, but are mostly skinny. It's the walking and the minimal pasta that does it. Low carbs.
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Dear BD: I have read one of these articles this morning and will read the rest in a quiet time this weekend. I usually plan the week's menu on Sunday. In the meantime would you be so kind as to give me some thoughts on Bolognese sauce? I know there is cream, but is it added at the end, or in the middle? There is a battle over which wine--white or red? I would love to have your thoughts on this dish. I had a great Bolognese once and never forgot it--it did have cream (or, was it milk?)
Thank you again for your time and thoughtfulness in keeping MF at the level of quality that it offers daily. You are a blessing!
My favorite recipes for Bolognese always add milk in the middle, the meat cooks down in milk during that part of the process. A very stern Italian lady insists on it, as does M Hazan, I believe. Wine is your choice, there are a number of reds I much prefer with Bolognese, but then white wine is for cooking, not drinking ;)
Milk goes in the middle, it’s actually a process: add milk, stir to incorporate repeat.
Italians can't make good pizza...That's your opinion but for me they beat all American versions by some distance,
Italians make wonderful pizza. If one is in Italy in the summer with the multitudes, maybe it will not be found. In Sienna, in winter, I ate pizza that caused me to weep tears of gratitude and joy.
Chiming in eight years later, the Italians use finer flour for their pizza than is used here. "Doppio zero" is not hard to find anymore in cities, and enables the making of excellent pizza crust at home. Also line your bottom oven rack with unglazed quarry tiles and preheat the oven at very high temperature for an hour. Roll your dough out onto parchment, prick it all over with a fork to prevent air bubbles, place it on an unrimmed cookie sheet and slide the parchment/dough directly onto the oven rack. Partly bake it before adding toppings. Crisp, thin and yum.
Oh Geez--here we go again!
Dan--why is it important to have the meat cook in milk--what effect does it have on the meat?
What kind of meats do you both use?
I lived and taught in Aosta for a year and ate better than at any other time of my life, and I come from a family of Great Cooks.
I'm with you for sure. Lack of carbs for the most part - the most carbs I had at one meal was a course of 'roasted chestnuts'. Dinners went on for hours. I am brought back there from time to time by an aroma or a picture...
I've never been to Italy, so haven't had real Italian food, just American versions of it here. Which I like pretty much. Not as much as Mexican food, or BBQ, or a good burger with fries. But, whatever.
I have read that you can get better Chinese food in the USA than you can in China, but never been to China either, so I cannot confirm that. I do know in my limited travel to other countries, that Europeans have yet to master making a burger that even compares to something I get at In-n-Out or Five Guys. Doesn't seem like it should be that hard, but apparently it is.
Chinese food in the US or Canada is so much better than what you find in China (ex-Hong Kong) that it’s hard to believe it’s the same cuisine.
You burnna my pizza crust, my wife kicka you ass!
I love Italian food. Not too crazy about the food correctness that many people apply to it. Even the Italians don't agree, but they disagree vociferously. What little Italian cooking I know I learned from my mother during a time when money was scarce and we had to make do. Also my mother isn't Italian she learned from Italian neighbors when she was growing up. So my Italian cooking is not "real" Italian, it's a kinda second hand Italian. Does it matter? Should it matter?
While in uniform, I was blessed with an assignment to NATO's Southern Europe HQ in Naples. I was even more blessed when my wife took a Neapolitan cooking class. 25+ years later, some of those dishes still appear on our table and remind us of the two good years in bella Napoli. But what I miss most is the indigenous fare that just can't be replicated here: the fried seaweed balls, the fresh mozzarella di bufola, the olives sold by a sidewalk vendor, and Sr Coppola's homemade red wine that went into the empty gallon milk jug I would bring into his shop. And then there was the Sergeant Major's homemade grappa....
Grew up in an area which had a large Italian population. Think they were from southern Italy, as spaghetti and meatballs played a large part in the cuisine. There was a local restaurant, in an old hotel, which featured cafeteria style seating and one menu: green salad, spaghetti & meatballs (1 for a child, 2 for an adult), fried chicken and potatoes. When the hotel burned down, the restaurant moved and is there to this day.
Even for weddings and other occasions, this basic menu still holds, though I do remember beef and beans (green) at one event.
BTW, the links are broken.
I guess I've never had authentic Italian food, or I've just had the southern style pastas. I think they're good, but I agree with Pod Hamp that they don't compare to Mexican, BBQ, or cheeseburgers. Nothing compares to cheeseburgers.
Asian cuisine is superior to almost any dish from Europe or the US.