We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
"The relationship between bruschetta and "garlic bread" is a peculiar one. In principle, bruschetta is the honest, poor man's original -nothing but charred, oil-soaked bread rubbed with garlic-while "garlic bread" is the embellished pretender. But somehow things have got mixed up. British democracy has confused them. Garlic bread became genuinely democratised, sold in dispiriting packs of two, or even four, for 99p in the brightest freezer cabinets. Meanwhile, the monied torchbearers of democracy - in fact, the elite - went crazy for bruschetta, paying a small fortune for pane covered in broad beans or anchovies at the River Cafe. And so, bizarrely, buttery indigestible garlic bread has come to seem unpretentious "people's food", while bruschetta is the poncy snack of the People's Party. This is an unfortunate state of affairs. Everything that is best about bruschetta -- its power to bestow well-being in one crisp bite -- is betrayed by garlic bread. To begin with, as Marcella Hazan points out: "The most important ingredient in bruschetta is not garlic but olive oil." The garlic on bruschetta is rubbed on, so that you inhale the fresh garlic perfume as a backdrop to the olive oil, rather than eating great lumps of it. The origin of bruschetta was probably the ancient Roman practice of tasting newly pressed olive oil on a piece of bread, with or without garlic -- a practice that has continued in the oil-producing areas of Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio. The name derives from bruscare, meaning "to roast over coals". Alice Waters's version of bruschetta involves frying country bread in large amounts of oil, until thoroughly impregnated, and Elizabeth David recommends baking slices of white bread in the oven."
Thus we learn that American "garlic bread" is not really Italian. The whole piece is interesting, and makes me wonder whether we American garlic-lovers - me, anyway - use our garlic far more heavy-handedly than we should. I will do Bruschetta this way:
Sourdough bread slices lightly fried in oil then garlic-rubbed, chopped fresh tomatoes barely warmed in a little oil with sea salt and maybe a touch of vinegar (plus maybe a little lightly sauteed onion) then fresh basil and parsley sprinkled on top. I think a sloppy Bruschetta is just fine if the oil and tomatoes are excellent, but I think I prefer a little plate of Crostini with a glass of wine.
In Italy we were served Crostini that were simple thin toasted baguette slices (garlic-rubbed with a little salt) with oil and some herbs (including Rosemary), others with a very light smear of pesto or goat cheese, and some others with just a little bit of sauteed shallot. Clearly the oil is the main point - and the wine. The oil has to be the best. Any added flavor should be subtle.
I think I prefer my Crostini lightly salted and fried in olive oil with a bit of garlic without any other flavor added on top. However, that would be properly known as the French "crouton." My family loves these fried slices of Italian bread or baguettes, and will eat them with anything. In fact, the Pupette makes then now, for snacks.
If you Google "crostini+recipe" you can find a ton of ideas, most of which I think are excessive.
While I like grilled baguettes, Pita bread, grilled and garlic-rubbed is one of my favorites. Make both! Olive oil + hummus + New Orleans style garlic/olive Muffuletta salad, a glass of wine and you're set.
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pimiento-stuffed olives
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pitted black olives
1/4 cup coarsely chopped red onion
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (more to taste)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons drained and rinsed capers
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon each: salt, freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Place the olives, onion, parsley, vinegar, garlic, capers, oregano, salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse the mixture until the ingredients are finely chopped. Add the olive oil and continue processing until the mixture is thoroughly chopped but not pureed. Adjust seasonings, adding additional vinegar if it needs a "zing," or additional olive oil if the mixture seems too "sharp." Will keep in the refrigerator for at least one month. Since the olive oil solidifies at low temperatures, remove from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before serving.