mercoledì 22 novembre 2017

Donnachiara, tra i Top 100 vini al mondo / Donnachiara, one of the 100 best wines in the world

Vi scrivo oggi perché sono pieno di orgoglio per Ilaria Petitto & Francesco De Rienzo, direttori della cantina Donnachiara. Il loro Aglianico si è classificato al 71° posto nella lista dei 100 migliori vini del 2017 di Wine Spectator! (Intendiamoci, non i 100 migliori vini italiani – i 100 migliori vini del mondo!) Per Donnachiara, è arrivato al punto che ottenere una valutazione di 90+ da James Suckling sia un evento normalissimo. Sono davvero orgoglioso!

Che emozione vedere il riconoscimento internazionale che sta venendo a quest'azienda vinicola situata a Montefalcione (AV), il paese natio dei Ciampa. Infatti, la cantina si trova soli 1.500 metri dall'antica chiesa che i miei antenati frequentarono.

Ottenere fama e fare la differenza nel mondo, non sono la stessa cosa. In ogni intervista che fa, Ilaria menziona non solo i vini, ma le province ove crescono le uva: l'Irpinia, e anche il Sannio. (Montefalcione è in provincia di Avellino, ma nella diocesi di Benevento.) Abbiamo un gran debito con Ilaria, per il suo sostegno e la sua promozione, su scala mondiale, di queste province. Per favore, concedetemi un momento di spiegazione.

Dico spesso: "Gli Stati Uniti sono il paese peggiore al mondo – tranne tutti gli altri." Qualunque sciovinismo che potremmo avere in America tra le diverse regioni, in Italia è ancora più amplificato. (Mi perdonerete la franchezza, poiché su questo argomento sono sempre appassionato e schietto.) Quando visitai l'Italia per la prima volta nel 1995, guardavo il telegiornale ogni sera. Le uniche volte – le unicissime volte – in cui la Sicilia era menzionata era in relazione a una sparatoria mafiosa. Questo, per il luogo che abbia più bellezze naturali, più bellezze architetturali, più storia e più cultura di tutte le regioni d'Italia! Non importava con chi parlaste: la "vera Italia" era la Toscana. Il resto era una pessima imitazione, e tutta la terra a sud di Roma non esisteva nemmeno.

Negli anni '90 la mentalità era davvero così. La prova di ciò si poteva osservare nell'industria vinicola. I prezzi dei vini toscani erano doppi o tripli rispetto a quelli dei vini siciliani che spesso erano superiori. Altre prove convincenti si possono vedere sulle etichette stesse. Negli anni '90, l'etichetta diceva (per dare un esempio) "Corvo Rosso." Oggi dice "Corvo Nero d'Avola." Grazie alle imprenditrici e gli imprenditori motivati e dediti, i monovitigni come Nero d'Avola e Inzolia in Sicilia, Negroamaro e Primitivo in Puglia e così via, oggi sono molto più conosciute. Ilaria e Francesco appartengono a questo gruppo di imprenditori impegnati. Grazie ai loro enormi sforzi, i monovitigni irpini e sanniti, come Taurasi e Greco di Tufo e Falanghina, stanno diventando rispettati a livello internazionale.

I toscani hanno buone ragioni per essere gelosi del terroir irpino. Sebbene Avellino si trovi nell'Appennino campano, è solo a circa 50 km dal Vesuvio. Pertanto, il terreno è in parte igneo (vulcanico) e in parte sedimentario (montuoso). Questo terroir ricco e il clima meridionale producono uva che sono l'invidia dei viticoltori toscani.

Un'altra persona d'affari magari parlerebbe solo del prodotto e dell'azienda. Ma in tutte le interviste, Ilaria non manca mai di parlare della sua bella provincia e del terreno speciale. Che gioia avere una portavoce internazionale per Avellino, e in particolare per il comune di Montefalcione!
   I write to you today bursting with pride for Ilaria Petitto & Francesco De Rienzo, directors of the Donnachiara winery. Their Aglianico ranked 71 in Wine Spectator’s list of the 100 best wines of 2017! (Mind you, not the 100 best Italian wines – the 100 best wines in the world!) For Donnachiara, it has gotten to the point that to get a 90+ rating from James Suckling is a normal occurrence. I am truly proud!

What a thrill to see the international recognition that is coming to this cantina, located in Montefalcione (Avellino), the Ciampas’ ancestral home town. In fact, the winery is located less than a mile from the ancient church that my ancestors attended.

To obtain fame and to make a difference in the world, they are not the same thing. In every interview that she does, Ilaria mentions not only the wines, but the provinces where the grapes grow: Avellino, and also Benevento. (Montefalcione is in the province of Avellino, but in the diocese of Benevento.) We owe Ilaria a great debt for her advocacy and promotion, on a global scale, of these provinces. Please allow me a moment of explanation.

I often say, "The United States is the worst country in the world – except for all the other ones." Whatever chauvinism that we might have in America between the different regions, in Italy is it even more amplified. (You'll forgive my bluntness, for on this topic I am always passionate and outspoken.) When I first visited Italy in 1995, I watched the evening news every evening. The only time – the ONLY time – Sicily was ever mentioned was in connection to a mafia shooting. This, for the place that has more natural beauty, more architectural beauty, more history, and more culture than all the regions of Italy! No matter whom you talked to, the "true Italy" was Tuscany; the rest was a poor imitation, and all of the land south of Rome didn't even exist. 

In the 1990s the mentality was truly that way. Evidence of this could be seen in the winemaking industry. The prices of Tuscan wines were double or triple those of Sicilian wines which often were superior. More compelling evidence can be seen on the labels themselves. In the 1990s, the label said (to give one example) "Corvo Rosso." Today it reads, "Corvo Nero d'Avola." Thanks to motivated, dedicated entrepreneurs, varietals such as Nero d'Avola and Inzolia in Sicily, Negroamaro and Primitivo in Puglia, and so forth are much better known today. Ilaria and Francesco belong to this group of dedicated entrepreneurs. Thanks to their huge efforts, the varietals of Avellino and Benevento, such as Taurasi and Greco di Tufo and Falanghina, are becoming internationally respected.

The Tuscans have good reason to be jealous of the Avellinese terroir. Though Avellino is located in the Campanian Appenines, it is only approximately 30 miles from Mt. Vesuvius. Thus, the soil is partly igneous (volcanic) and partly sedimentary (mountainous). This rich terroir, and the southern climate, produce grapes that are the envy of Tuscan vintners.

Another business person might speak only about the product and the company. But in all of her interviews, Ilaria never fails to speak about her beautiful province and its special terrain. What a joy to have an international spokeswoman for Avellino, and in particular for the town of Montefalcione!

To purchase Donnachiara wines in America, click here.
Chiesa di Nostra Signora del Sacro Cuore di Gesù, Via Cardinal dell'Olio, Montefalcione
Chiesa ancestrale della famiglia Ciampa, situata 1.500 metri dalla cantina Donnachiara!
(foto di Leonardo Ciampa, 17 gennaio 2017)
Ancestral church of the Ciampa family, located less than a mile from the Donnachiara winery!
(photo by Leonardo Ciampa, January 17, 2017)
Panorama dalla Cantina Donnachiara (foto: donnachiara.it)
Panorama from the Donnachiara Winery (photo: donnachiara.it)
Ilaria Petitto & Leonardo Ciampa alla cantina Donnachiara (17 gennaio 2017)
Ilaria Petitto & Leonardo Ciampa at the Donnachiara winery (January 17, 2017)
Francesco De Rienzo & Ilaria Petitto (2017)

mercoledì 1 novembre 2017

Halloween

Photo: greencountyhealth.org
Mi hanno sorpreso tutti i commenti ieri su Facebook, dagli amici italiani (che forse non sono mai stati in America), offrendo opinioni sulla nostra festa di Halloween.

Chiariamo una cosa: qua in America, le due feste che i bambini aspettano con la più impazienza ogni anno, sono Halloween e Natale. Potreste dire che sono le feste più commercializzate. Per gli adulti, sì. Per i bambini, sono due occasioni di gioia pura. Per un genitore di 4 figli, osservare questa gioia è anche più dolce di ricordare la mia propria gioia da quei dì

“HALLOWEEN È UNA FESTA SATANICA!” Chiariamo che una festa satanica e una festa pagana, perdonatemi ma non sono la stessa cosa! Sì, ovviamente ci sono elementi pagani di ogni festa cattolica. Gesù non c’entra nell’agrifoglio e l’edera, o nella ghirlanda natalizia, o nell’albero natalizio. Sono elementi dalla festa dello Yule. La Chiesa Cattolica intenzionalissimamente programmò tutte le maggiori feste sopra le feste pagane. O forse credete che i primi studiosi cristiani ricercassero il vero giorno di nascita di Gesù e arrivassero al 25 dicembre! Abbiamo visto la stessa cosa nei tempi nostri, programmando la Kwanzaa al 26 dicembre.

Il fervore religioso è comprensibile ad un certo punto. Dire, “NON DIMENTICARE CHE IL 1° NOVEMBER È LA FESTA DI TUTTI I SANTI,” vuol dire che vorreste che la fede cristiana non venga offuscata dalle feste secolari. Va bene. Ma dire, “USA LA TESTA, NON LA ZUCCA,” vuol dire che chi ha altre convinzioni e altre tradizioni sia meno intelligente di voi. E dire, “I SATANISTI FESTEGGIANO HALLOWEEN. NON UNIRTI A LORO!”, vuol dire qualcosa così distante dalla razionalità che non ne so rispondere.

Ma gli italiani non possono fermarci qui! Essendo italiani, devono aggiungere, “LA ZUCCA DI HALLOWEEN, MICA LA MANGIAMO NOI.” Ah, ecco il vero insulto! L’ultima daga! Potete dire che siamo scemi. Potete dire che siamo satanici. Ma quando siete VERAMENTE arrabbiati, dite che non sappiamo mangiare!

Basti dire: io non conosco nessunissimo al mondo che mangia la carne delle zucconi che s’intagliano per i jack-o’-lantern. Si mangiano le più piccole zucche, che si chiamano sugar pumpkins (“zucche zucchero”). Il colore è un po’ più rossastro.  E si preparano esattamente come si preparano tutte le zucche invernali: arrostite con burro e salvia, grigliate, vellutate, ecc. ad infinitum.

Ma forse il vero lamento gastronomico spetti non alle zucche ma ai dolcetti di cioccolato, e al problema dell’obesità infantile. Ma anche questo ragionamento ha pochissimo senso. I bambini non sono obesi perché mangino dolci una volta all’anno. Sono obesi perché prima erano fuori, correndo, e oggi sono dentro, usando i loro dispositivi.

Chiaramente, dunque, il problema non è con la cultura vostra o con quella nostra, ma invece con la cultura dei social media – un podio ove la persona più ignorante, di qualsiasi nazione, può parlare forte e spesso.
   I was very surprised by all the comments yesterday on Facebook, from Italian friends (who perhaps have never been to America), offering opinions on our feast of Halloween.

Let's be clear: here in America, the two holidays that children wait most impatiently for every year are Halloween and Christmas. You could say that they are the two most commercialized holidays. For the adults, yes.  For the children, they are two occasions of pure joy.  For a father of 4 children, to observe this joy is even sweeter than remembering my own joy from those days.

"HALLOWEEN IS A SATANIC FEAST!" Let's clarify that a satanic feast and a pagan feast, I'm sorry but they're not exactly the same thing!  Yes, obviously there are pagan elements in every Catholic feast. Jesus had nothing to do with the holly and the ivy, or the Christmas wreath, or the Christmas tree. They are elements from the Yule feast.  The Catholic Church very intentionally scheduled all of the major feasts on top of the pagan feasts. Or perhaps you believe that the early Christian scholars researched Jesus's true birthday and came up with December 25th! We have seen the same thing in our times, scheduling Kwanzaa on December 26th.

Religious fervor is understandable to a certain point.  To say, "DON'T FORGET THAT NOVEMBER 1st IS THE FEAST OF ALL SAINTS," means that you would like the Christian faith not be overshadowed by secular holidays. OK.  But to say, "USE YOUR HEAD, NOT A PUMPKIN," means that anyone who has other beliefs and traditions is less intelligent than you.  And to say, "SATANISTS CELEBRATE HALLOWEEN. DON'T JOIN THEM!", means something so distant from rationality that I don't know how to respond to it.

But the Italians can't stop there! Being Italian, they have to add, "WE DON'T EAT HALLOWEEN PUMPKINS." Ah, here is the real insult! The final dagger! You can say that we're idiots. You can say that we're satanic. But when you are REALLY angry, you say that we don't know how to eat!

Suffice it so say: I don't know anyone in the world who eats the flesh of the big pumpkins that are carved into jack-o'-lanterns. We eat the smaller "sugar pumpkins." The color is a little more reddish. And they're prepared exactly like all winter squash are prepared: roasted with butter and sage, grilled, puréed in soups, etc. ad infinitum.

But perhaps the real gastronomic complaint lies not with the pumpkins but with chocolate candy, and with the problem of childhood obesity.  But even this reasoning has very little sense. Children are not obese because they eat candy once a year. They're obese because before they used to go outside and run around. Now they're inside, using their devices.

Clearly, then, the problem is not with your culture or with our culture, but instead with the culture of social media – a podium where the most ignorant person, of any nation, can speak loudly and often.


venerdì 25 agosto 2017

Spaghettoni alla Campolattaro

Tordo bottaccio (foto: ilcacciatore.com)
Song thrush (photo: ilcacciatore.com)
Vi è mai capito che avete fatto una grande zuppa di pollo o di manzo, e rimanevano così tanti avanzi di carne e di brodo che non sapevate cosa farne?

La seguente è una ricetta “nobile”, ma potete facilmente adattarla per approffitare di questi avanzi nel vostro frigo!

Ci sono due fonti per questa ricetta. La prima è Jeanne Caròla Francesconi, che ricevette tre ricette dal conte Paolo Gaetani (1901-1986), ciascuna delle quali si dice che sia venuta da Don Emilio Capomazza Marchese di Campolattaro. (La seguente è la seconda delle tre ricette con il nome Campolattaro.) La seconda fonte per la ricetta è il marchese Franco Santasilia di Torpino, che era in realtà il nipote del conte. Non solo, ma Santasilia si ricorda di mangiare questo piatto nella villa di Gaetani a Torre del Greco, preparato dal chef di Gaetani, Monzù Francesco ’e Gaetani! E se non bastasse, uno degli ospiti quella sera fu Totò!

Ingredienti

500 gr spaghettoni (oppure bucatini o perciatelli) (Stasera io ho usato gli spaghetti normali.)
1 kg gamboncello (oppure un altro tipo di carne di manzo)
1 pollo
1 coscia di tordo (facoltativa) (Io non l’ho usato!)
1 mazzetto guarnito (sedano, cipolla, carota e prezzemolo, legati con filo)
120 gr burro
150 gr parmigiano, frescamente grattugiato
prezzemolo, tritato frescamente
pepe nero, macinato al momento

Preparazione

Immergete in abbondante acqua leggermente salata, e in ebollizione, il manzo, il pollo, l’eventuale coscia di tordo, il mazzetto guarnito ed una macinatina di pepe. Quando tutte le carni risultano ben cotte, estraetele dal brodo di cottura. Filtrate il brodo e tenetelo da parte. Disossate completamente il pollo ed eliminate le parti grasse del manzo. Tagliate quindi pollo e manzo a dadolini. In un casseruolino, liquefate a fuoco moderato il burro con un bicchiere di brodo di cottura delle carni e tenetelo in caldo. Cuocete al dente gli spaghettoni nel brodo di cottura delle carni allungato, se necessario, con acqua, scolateli e conditeli con il burro liquefatto, due terzi del parmigiano grattugiato ed una manciata di prezzemolo tritato. Versate gli spaghettoni nel piatto fondo di portata, cospargete tutta la superficie di una buona parte dei pezzetti di carne lessa e terminate con il resto del parmigiano grattugiato. Servite caldo.
   Has it ever happened to you that you made a big chicken or beef soup, and you had so much leftover meat and broth and you didn't know what to do with it?

The following is a "nobile" recipe, but you can easily adapt it to use up those leftovers in your fridge!

There are two sources for this recipe. One is Jeanne Caròla Francesconi, who was given three recipes by Count Paolo Gaetani (1901-1986), each of them said to have come from Don Emilio Capomazza Marquis of Campolattaro. (The following is the second of the three recipes named for Campolattaro.) The second source for the recipe is the marquis Franco Santasilia di Torpino, who was actually the Count’s nephew. Not only that, but Santasilia remembers eating the dish at Gaetani’s villa in Torre del Greco, prepared by Gaetani’s own chef, Monzù Francesco ’e Gaetani! And if that’s not enough, one of the dinner guests that evening was Totò!

Ingredients

500 gr spaghettoni (thick spaghetti, nearly impossible to find in America. You can substitute bucatini or perciatelli.) (Tonight I used normal spaghetti.)
1 kg (2.2 lb) beef shank (or other type of beef)
1 chicken
1 thrush thigh (optional) (I didn't use it!)
1 bouquet garni (celery, onion, carrot, and parsley, bound with string)
1 stick (½ C) butter
150 gr parmigiano, freshly grated
parsley, freshly chopped
black pepper, freshly ground


Preparation

In a large pan of salted boiling water, place the meats, bouquet garni, and fresh-ground black pepper.  When all the meat is cooked, remove it from the broth. Strain the broth and keep it aside. Bone the chicken completely and eliminate the fatty parts of the beef. Then cut the chicken and beef into little cubes. In a saucepan, on medium heat, melt the butter with a cup of the broth, and keep it warm. In the rest of the broth (adding some water if necessary), cook the pasta al dente. Strain the pasta, and add the melted butter, two-thirds of the grated parmigiano, and a handful of parsley. Pour the pasta into a serving bowl, sprinkle the whole surface with a good part of the chopped meats, and finish with the rest of the parmigiano.  Serve hot.
AGGIORNAMENTO

Lo Snobismo. Non ho mai immaginato che la ricetta qui sopra avrebbe incitato una discussione focosa (ora cancellata) su Facebook! I miei lettori sanno che io non sono un fan di snobismo. Gli italiani sono molto difensivi della cucina della loro propria provincia. Insistono sul fatto che una ricetta di un’altra provincia “non è italiana.” E quando la ricetta veramente li disturba, dicono che sia “americana.”

Gli snob più grandi sono gli italoamericani che ci credono di essere italiani nativi. Dicono con aria erudita, “Non esiste un’unica cucina italiana; ogni regione ha la propria cucina.” Una dichiarazione veritiera. Ma nella prossima frase dicono, “Ho domandato a molti italiani, e tutti hanno risposto che la ricetta sia inautentica.”

Notate benissimo che gli “italiani” a cui hanno parlato non hanno incluso né i napoletani né i siciliani.

Lo Snobbismo.

Basti dire che, in Italia (non America, Italia), esistano ricette tradizionali che – Dio non voglia! – includono sia pasta che pollo.  
  
UPDATE

Snobbery. I never imagined that the above recipe would incite a fiery discussion (now deleted) on Facebook! My readers know that I am not a fan of snobbery. Italians are very defensive of the cuisine of their own province. They insist that a recipe from another province is "not Italian." And when the recipe really bothers them, they say it is "American."

The biggest snobs are the Italian-Americans who believe themselves to be native Italians. They say with an air of erudition, "There is no such thing as 'Italian cuisine'; every region has its own cuisine." Which is true. But in the very next sentence they say, "I asked several Italians, and they all said that the recipe is inauthentic."

Note well that the "Italians" to whom they spoke did not include Neapolitans and Sicilians.

Snobbery.

Suffice it to say that, in Italy (not America, Italy), there exist traditional recipes that – perish the thought! – include both pasta and chicken.

sabato 12 agosto 2017

Salsicce & friarielli / Sausages & broccoli-rabe


Sasicc’ e friariell’!!! Mamma r’ ’o Càrmene!!! Il re dei piatti napoletani non è la pizza. Non è gli spaghetti con le polpette. Non è la pizza di scarola. È le salsicce con i friarielli. Un piatto più grandioso, chi lo potrebbe mai inventare?!

Non posso immaginare una cucina senza una pentola di ghisa smaltata, tipo Le Creuset che di Staub. Il modo in cui questa pentola fonde i sapori e ritiene l’umidità ... è oltre ogni descrizione. Metti una sol cucchiaiata in bocca e dici: “Dio mio...” (Se non mi credete, provatelo. Fate qualsiasi ricetta che di solito fate in inox, e fatela dentro Le Creuset. Un unico assaggio, e capirete.)

E allora, come si fa questa ricetta regale?

Ingredienti
6 salsicce piccanti, incise con un coltello
2 mazzi di friarielli (broccoli di rapa), senza i gambi (che salvo in freezer per un brodo futuro)
4-6 spicchi d’aglio, interi
un po’ di evo (di alta qualità)
un po’ di vino bianco (di alta qualità)
sale marino
pepe nero, macinato al momento

Preparazione
Fate saltare l’EVO, le salsicce, l’aglio, sale e pepe. Appena le salsicce e l’aglio saranno rosolati alquanto (non bruciati), diglassate con il vino. Aggiungete i friarielli, aggiungete più sale, coprite e fate cuocere a fuoco medio-basso fino a quando sarà pronto. Coronatelo con pecorino, grattugiato al momento.
  Sasicc’ e friariell’!!! Mamma r’ ’o Càrmene!!! The king of Neapolitan dishes is not pizza. It is not spaghetti and meatballs. It is not escarole pie. It is sausages with broccoli-rabe. A more grandiose dish, who could ever invent?!

I cannot imagine a kitchen without an enameled cast-iron pan, such as Le Creuset. The manner in which this pan blends the flavors and retains the moisture ... it is beyond description. You put one spoonful in your mouth and you say, "Oh, my God ..." (If you don't believe me, try it.  Make any recipe that usually you make in stainless steel, and make it in Le Creuset.  Just one taste, and you'll understand.)

And so, how do you prepare this kingly recipe?

Ingredients
6 hot sausages, scored with a knife
2 bunches of broccoli-rabe, without the stems (which I save in the freezer for a future stock)
4-6 cloves of garlic, whole
a little extra-virgin olive oil (top-quality)
a little white wine (top-quality)
sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Preparation
Sauté the EVOO, sausages, garlic, salt and pepper. As soon as the sausages and garlic are somewhat brown (not burnt), deglaze with the wine. Add the broccoli-rabe, add more salt, cover, and cook on medium-low heat until it is ready. Crown with freshly grated pecorino romano.
Foto: SurLaTable.com

sabato 5 agosto 2017

Due belle ricette / Two beautiful recipes

Mondello
Foto: Andrea Calcagno (Wikipedia)
LE MERAVIGLIE DELLA TECNOLOGIA!

Due delle prime foodblogger che ho mai cominciato a seguire sono state Sara Drilli Barone e Serena Comacchio. Nel corso degli anni, ho presentato in queste pagine traduzioni in inglese delle loro ricette. Amicizie sono nate con ciascuna di queste donne, che durante gli anni mi hanno offerto una quantità straordinaria di consigli e di assistenza. Continua a rattristarmi il fatto che, ad oggi, non ho avuto l’opportunità d’incontrare di persona né Sara né Serena.

Nel frattempo, Sara e Serena sono diventate amiche virtuali con se stesse!  Provengono da lati opposti d’Italia. (Una è siciliana e abita a Milano; l’altra abita in Veneto.) Finalmente, hanno deciso d’incontrarsi.

Giovedì mattina, Sara e Serena stavano prendendo il sole a Mondello, la spiaggia più famosa della Sicilia, e una delle più belle spiagge del Mediterraneo. A poco prima delle 6, avevo problema a dormire. Degenerato che sono, piuttosto che prendere un libro, sono andato su Facebook.  Ma in questo caso sono così felice di averlo fatto!  Poiché Sara e Serena sono andate su Facebook Live e mi hanno salutato da Mondello!  Ed io ero in linea, in tempo reale, per ricevere il saluto!

Che emozione! E che piacevole modo d’incominciare la mia giornata!

All’istante, ho deciso che per cena, preparerei due ricette – l’una di Serena, l’altra di Sara.

Durante la giornata ho esplorato i due bei blog. Ho scelto due ricette che non avevo mai fatto prima: la Pasta 4P di Serena, e gli Sandwich di Zucchine di Sara.

Le mie creature le hanno felicemente divorate, dichiarando che fossero “epiche.”

   THE WONDERS OF TECHNOLOGY!

Two of the first foodbloggers that I ever began to follow were Sara Drilli Barone and Serena Comacchio. Nel corso degli anni, ho presentato in queste pagine  Over the years, I have featured English translations of their recipes in this blog. Friendships formed with each of these ladies, who over the years have offered me tremendous advice and assistance. It continues to sadden me that, to this day, I have not had the opportunity to meet either Sara or Serena in person.

In the meantime, Sara and Serena formed internet friendships with each other! They are from opposite ends of Italy. (One is from Sicily and lives in Milan; the other lives in the Veneto.) Finally, they decided to meet in person.

On Thursday morning, Sara and Serena were soaking up the rays at Mondello, the most famous beach in Sicily, and one of the most beautiful beaches in the Mediterranean. At shortly before 6 a.m., I was having trouble sleeping. Degenerate that I am, rather than pick up a book, I went onto Facebook. But in this instance I am so happy that I did. Sara and Serena went onto Facebook Live and greeted me from Mondello! And I was online, to receive their greeting in real time!

What a thrill!  And what an incredibly pleasant way to start my day!

On the spot, I decided that for dinner, I would make two recipes – one by Serena, the other by Sara.

During the day I browsed the two beautiful blogs. I chose two recipes that I had never made before: Serena's Pasta 4P, and Sara's Zucchini sandwiches.

My children happily devoured them, declaring that they were "epic."

Recipe #1
Pasta 4P
Recipe by Sara Comacchio (Lo Sfizio Goloso)
Ingredients for 4 people:
320 gr penne
120 gr pancetta affumicata (otherwise known as ... bacon! 120 grams is approx. 1/4 lb, approx. 4 slices. Chop the slices into little squares.)
2 TB pesto genovese (of course you should make it homemade.  Instead of pine nuts, I used California pistachios!)
250 ml panna da cucina (heavy cream)

Preparation
In a large skillet, brown the bacon.  Don't discard the grease.  Add the pesto, stir well and shut off the heat right away.  Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the penne.  A minute before draining it, add the cream to the skillet and heat on high.  Drain the pasta, add to the skillet, shut the heat, and serve right away.

Recipe #2
Zucchini sandwiches
Recipe by Sara Barone Drilli (I Piattini di Drilli)
Ingredients 
1 large, round zucchino
sliced brie (see note below)
sliced speck (Speck is smoked prosciutto.  It is hard to find in America.  I used regular prosciutto, and smoked Gouda for the cheese. You can also use smoked mozzarella or smoked scamorza – something that will melt easily.  Naturally, if you can find speck, use brie & speck as per the original recipe!)
1 scallion
1 egg, beaten (a little salt added)
flour, sifted
fresh basil, chopped
extra-virgin olive oil

Preparation
Clean and slice the zucchino in fairly thin disks, tamp dry with a paper towel, dip in flour, then in the egg. Heat a skillet, add the olive oil, and fry the zucchini with the scallion. When fried, arrange on a pan.  While they're still hot, add the slices of cheese and speck, making "sandwiches."  Sprinkle with the fresh, chopped basil (DON'T use dry!), and serve.

(When I made it, the zucchini weren't quite soft enough. So I simply placed the pan in the oven and continued making the pasta on the stove.  They were perfect!  And, my kids and I both felt that they were even better the next morning, cold out of the refrigerator!)

giovedì 27 luglio 2017

In memoriam CARMINE TRUBIANO

Dear friends, 

A year ago today, I lost one of my dearest friends of my entire life, CARMINE TRUBIANO.  His profile could have been on an Ancient Roman coin – and his life-style bore some similarities, as well!  A man such as him you don't replace – you remember, and you mourn.

The following is the eulogy that I had the great honor of giving at his funeral.


I'm not going to stand here and tell you what a wonderful person Carmine was. If you didn't already know him and think that, you wouldn't be here right now. And I'm so happy that you did know him, because if you didn't, if you had never met him, how can I possibly begin to describe him? In my whole life, I can't think of anyone who was like him. And that is what makes this so hard. There's no one to replace him with.
There's no way to express who he was in a five-minute eulogy. So I'm going to share only a couple of personal memories.
I first met Carmine almost 25 years ago, when he was the manager at Filippo's Restaurant, which I used to visit frequently. We became fast friends. I called him “fratellino”, which means little brother, and he called me “fratellone”, which means big brother. This was very comical, both in terms of our ages and our sizes – although regarding the latter, as you can see I am catching up fast.
I have to tell you what an event it was, in those days, to visit him and his dear, unforgettable mother. At the time I was living in Revere, and I didn't drive. Even if I did drive, this was before the days of the Ted Williams Tunnel. So to visit 50 Washington Ave., either by train or by car, was something of a journey. Once, I showed up uninvited. Absolutely uninvited – he had no idea I was coming. With no surprise in his voice at all, he said, “Uhé, fratellone.” Within 60 seconds, I was seated at the table and there was food in front of me. From the fridge he pulls out a dish of hamburgers, made not from beef but from the meat of a deer that he himself had shot with Luigi Andreassi. While I'm eating that, he starts boiling some water for the pasta. Then he goes to the cupboard and pulls out a can of tomatoes. And as the sauce is cooking he goes to his freezer and pulls out a whole truffle, from which he shaves one tiny sliver into the sauce. And when the sauce is almost done, he goes to his freezer and pulls out a bag of homemade triangular maltagliati. And so the meal went. Later, when I moved in Natick, suddenly the long journey was only a five-minute car ride. And when he would call me and invite me over for quote-unquote “leftovers,” can you imagine how fast I drove over there?
One thing that struck me about Carmine was that he was utterly unjudgmental. He let people be whoever they were going to be. With one notable exception. He could not abide any sort of snobbery or pretension. He hated snobs so much that sometimes I think he downplayed his own education and culture and played the part of the peasant. This way, the snobs would be repelled, and then he could hang out with the people that he actually liked. With me, there was no pretension, and we had many long conversations about literature and art and every aspect of Italian culture. And by the way, he really could read and write Latin.
But there was a reason why he hated snobbery, and it's very important that I tell you. When I used to work at the mall, I used to see these rich, bored housewives come in and giddily buy a cast-iron pan that was recommended by their cooking instructor. Well, the Italians were using those pans 150 years ago. And stop to think for a moment that the peasants of those times, who couldn't even read or write, would once a year kill a pig, and with that pig would make the pancetta and the guanciale and the sausages, and they knew how to preserve everything perfectly, without any of the meat going bad, and the family would eat this meat for a whole year. You could go to Harvard Medical School for 25 years and not learn how to do all of that. Carmine did have a great intellectual curiosity. If he didn’t he wouldn’t have studied in Rome and France and gotten his Bachelors and Masters at BU and studied for his doctorate at Middlebury College. At the same time, he knew full well what real culture was.
This is why, without making a big deal of it, Carmine would teach us friends certain traditions that even in Italy are disappearing. This was another aspect of Carmine that not many people understood. If even in Italy people go to the store to buy sausages, why would he go through the trouble of inviting friends over for a sausage-making party? But this is exactly what occurred one unforgettable day about 15 years ago. There were five of us: Carmine, his cousin Cesidio from Italy, his cousin Carmine from Canada, Tony Onorato, and myself. There we were, in the basement of 50 Washington Ave., and on the table before us was 60 pounds of ground pork. “I usually make only 50 pounds,” Carmine explained. And he washed each casing by hand. And he measured the ground pepper carefully. And we made 60 pounds of sausages, our toil alleviated by gallons of Luigi’s homemade red wine. I won’t say that we imbibed too much that day. Then again, I won’t say that we didn’t imbibe too much that day. I’ll say only that if a mosquito bit any one of us that day, it would have needed a glass of water as a chaser.
At the end of the party, I was sitting on a chair, unaware of the fact that outside Carmine had lit the charcoal grill. Without saying a syllable, he handed me a dish with a grilled patty made from the leftover sausage meat, in a grilled bun. For whatever reason, remembering that moment reminds me of his incredible generosity and the lack of pretention with which he fed everyone around him. For him it was a normal thing to do to make a gluten-free lasagne and bring a piece of it to his physical therapist. Or the time that we were talking on the phone and I asked him about rabbit recipes. The very next day there’s a knock on my door. There he is, holding two plastic containers, one with rabbit “cif e ciaf” and the other with rabbit “in umido.” 
There just isn’t time to tell you all these stories. However, I would be remiss not to mention a birthday party of mine, about 20 years ago. Carmine drove to Revere and brought an entire lasagne and an entire porchetta. Enough to feed my entire family and friends. He did things like that. And come to think of it, in 25 years he never asked me a favor. He did a lot of favors, but he never asked for one.
Throughout his life Carmine loved to write poetry. During his final illness, while at the Eliot rehab here in Natick, he wrote several poems. They could have been written by someone born not in 1936 but 1886. One of them ended in Latin! Of these poems, there was one that struck me in particular. It begins “Here I am at the edge of the deep abyss that separates death from life.”

Eccomi all’orlo del profondo abisso
Che separa la morte dalla vita
Di vivere la spem quasi è finita
Solo mi sento come il crocifisso
Come lui di morir non ho paura
Perché male a nessuno ho fatto mai
Forse una volta o due anch’io sbagliai
ma l’alma mia rimase sempre pura
Del futuro non vedo alcun bagliore
Le tenebre mi dicon “Non sperare
fugge dai cimiteri anche la speme.”
Dentro di me qualcosa assai mi preme
Mi sento forte ancora da lottare
Pur se lottar vuol dire grande dolore

Less that two weeks before he died, I was on Facebook, and on Linda Onorato’s timeline there was a photo of a wonderful meal. Knowing how weak Carmine was, I figured it was from several years ago. She replied, “No, this is happening right now. Come over.” This was at 9:39 p.m. At 9:51 I was in Carmine’s driveway. Seated at the table were Linda Onorato, Kristin Brothers, and Linda Zaleski. There was the old lion, the charmer, reading his romantic poetry to these three blushing women, tears trickling down their cheeks.
The three ladies left. I remained for about 45 more minutes, until about 11:40. Just me and Carmine, talking. Our final conversation.
He was very tired, yet still he was the host of the Bacchanal. “Have some more wine. Have some more Centerba. Would you like some limoncello?”
I said to him, “Carmine, you’ve been such a wonderful friend to all of us, and in all these years you’ve never asked anything of us. Have we been good friends to you in return?”
He replied, “Of course. I don’t want anything in return. All that matters is the love.”

***

The following was his obituary (which I also wrote).


Carmine A. Trubiano, age 80, of Natick, died peacefully on July 27, 2016 at Brigham & Women’s Hospital. He had recently been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.
Mr. Trubiano was born in Castiglione a Casauria, a town of 850 inhabitants in the Italian province of Pescara, the eldest child of Ivra (Ranella) Trubiano and Lucio Trubiano. He attended the Liceo Classico Ovidio in nearby Sulmona, where he studied Latin Language and Literature, as well as Classical Greek. After further studies in Rome, he lived in France for three years, where he learned both welding and French cuisine. He worked in Holland for seven months before emigrating to the United States in October, 1960. (He would become an American citizen in May, 1966.) From 1960 to 1963 he worked for Westinghouse Electric in Boston, while studying English at Wellesley High Night School. From 1964 to 1973 he co-owned a welding business in Framingham. He received a B. A. in French at Boston University (1973), an M. A. in Education and Italian at Boston University (1975), and completed coursework for a D.M.L. in Italian at Middlebury College (1978). After a brief tenure teaching Italian at Watertown High School (1975), he taught Italian Language and Literature at Newton North High School from 1975 to 1981. In Newton and Middlebury he directed several plays, including Pirandello’s “La giara,” Tozzi’s “L’uva,” Fratti’s “Il dentista e la dentista,” Pirandello’s “La favola del figlio cambiato,” and his own “L’apologia di Don Venanzio.”
In the 1980s and ‘90s, Mr. Trubiano was a well-known figure in the North End of Boston, where he worked as a manager for several important restaurants, most notably Ristorante Filippo. He was also a member of the Massachusetts Foreign Language Association, the Italian-American Educational Club (Wellesley), and the Dante Alighieri Society (Cambridge).
Mr. Trubiano was a prolific poet who continued to write poems right up to his death. His poetry includes two collections, “America amara” (115 poems) and “A Najwa” (38 poems).
Mr. Trubiano is survived by three sons, Luciano, Enzo, and Mario; and siblings, Pasquina Gaspari of Italy, Reno Trubiano of Framingham, Mario Trubiano of Rhode Island, Dino Trubiano of Natick, and Fausto Trubiano of Natick.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, September 10th at 1 p.m. in the chapel of the John Everett & Sons Funeral Home, 4 Park Street at Natick Common. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Natick Visiting Nurse Association (www.natickvna.org) or Bay Path Elder Services (www.baypath.org).

domenica 9 luglio 2017

Il mio pasto estivo preferito / My favorite summer meal

ZUCCHINE CON SALSICCE, “POMODORINI UVA” & MAGGIORANA DEL GIARDINO
ZUCCHINI WITH SAUSAGES, GRAPE TOMATOES, & GARDEN MARJORAM

Questa ricetta richiede la cocotte in ghisa porcellanata, tipo Le Creuset. Senza questa casseruola, onestamente, è difficile fare questo piatto speciale.

Le “pomodorini uva” sono fedeli al loro nome: sono a forma d’uva, più piccole dei “pomodorini ciliegini” che, fedeli al nome loro, sono a forma di ciliegia.

La zucchina e la maggiorana: uno dei migliori matrimoni della cucina. La maggiorana ho colto dal mio orticello minuti prima di metterla in casseruola.
   This recipe requires an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven, of the Le Creuset type.  Without this pot, honestly, it is difficult to make this special dish.

"Grape tomatoes" are true to their name: they are grape-shaped, smaller than "cherry tomatoes" which, true to their name, are cherry-shaped.

Zucchini and marjoram: one of the best marriages in cooking. The marjoram I picked from my garden minutes before putting it in the pot.
Ingredienti
evo
3 salsicce dolci (c. 275 gr), a medaglioni
½ cipolla rossa, a grandi fette
3 spicchi d’aglio, dimezzati
3 zucchine, a medaglioni
c. 500 gr pomodorini uva
sale & pepe, macinati al momento
maggiorana fresca
   Ingredients
extra-virgin olive oil
3 sweet Italian sausages (c. 3/5 lb), cut in medallions
½ red onion, cut in large slivers
3 cloves garlic, halved
3 zucchini, cut in medallions
1 pint grape tomatoes
salt & pepper, freshly ground
fresh marjoram
Preparazione
Fate riscaldare l’evo. Fate rosolare le salsicce insieme con la cipolla, l’aglio e il sale & pepe.  Aggiungete le altre ingredienti, abbassate la fiamma, mettete il coperchio, e fate cuocere lentamente finché le zucchine cambiano colore. (Difficile dire quanto tempo –
magari un’ora.)

N.B.! Ecco la gloria di questa ricetta: non aggiungete manco una goccia di liquido, né vino né brodo né acqua. Tutta l’acqua contenuta dentro le zucchine e nei pomodorini, tutta tenuta dentro la casseruola dal pesante coperchio di ferro, emerge e crea un brodo che non potete immaginare! (Per ancor più brodo, potete mettere un foglio di alluminio tra il coperchio e la casseruola.)
   Preparation
Heat the olive oil. Brown the sausages together with the onion, garlic, and salt & pepper.  Add the other ingredients, lower the heat, put the cover, and cook slowly until the zucchini changes color. (Hard to say how long – perhaps an hour.)

Note well! Here is the glory of this recipe: you don't add so much as a drop of liquid, neither wine nor stock nor water. All of the water contained inside the zucchini and tomatoes, all kept inside the pot by the heavy iron lid, emerges and creates a broth that you can't imagine! (For even more broth, you can put a sheet of aluminum foil between the lid and the pot.)


Vino raccomandato: Potere andare in entrambe le direzioni, sia bianco per le zucchine, sia rosso per le salsicce e i pomodori. Io suggerisco un pinot noir francese, cioè un rosso leggero. (Un rosso potente sarebbe un grade sbaglio.)    Recommended wine: You can go in either direction, be it white for the zucchini, or red for the sausages and tomatoes. I suggest a French pinot noir, in other words a light red. (A powerful red would be a big mistake.)