Friday, January 23, 2009

New year, not much new cooking

We all change focus from time to time and for me that has meant a rather uneventful month in terms of cookery. I have a few treats that are in line to be posted, but I will start the month with some gastronomic musing. I have been reading two books related to food and travel in the past few months: Stolen Figs by Mark Rotella and French Lessons by Peter Mayle. Reading accounts of culinary experiences around Western Europe may be somewhat unhealthy for my psyche; I find myself discontent with the scene in Philadelphia--I want to travel and eat like these authors!

Mayle's book is teaching me lovely knowledge about culinary traditions of France, such as frog legs and AOC (name controlled) chicken. But, my book on Calabria hits home becuase my Italian heritage originated in Calabria. Both books depict unforgetable eating experiences in off-the-beaten-path restaurants, where generously portioned comfort food is enjoyed in lieu of fancy fare.

Rotella describes a meal in Catanzaro, Italia:
"After an antipasto of soppressata, freshly smoked ricotta, mozzarella, and peppers, a most typical Calabrese dish appeared before us: penne with sauteed tomatoes and spicy sausage, topped with a fresh grating of parmigiano. Then... a plate of braciole--thinly sliced veal, rolled around bread crumbs, ground pork, and parmigiano cheese, covered with fresh tomato sauce. Alongside was a layered dish of thinly sliced zucchini, eggplant, mozzarella, and [more] soppressata."

And then the waiter says, "I recommend only fruit--something to help the digestion" for dessert.

I think it would be refreshing to have a server suggest something like that in the States! Reading about food is a hobby of mine because so much of a place's culture comes across through the food.

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