adactio / tags / italian

Tagged with “italian” (8)

  1. Fifth quarter: Rachel Roddy’s Rome

    That sink is where Rachel Roddy, an English woman in Rome, prepares meals to share with her partner Vincenzo, their young son Luca, and a horde of appreciative readers of her website and, now, her first book.

    Five Quarters: Recipes and Notes from a Kitchen in Rome, features the sink on its front cover. That probably makes it one of the most famous sinks in Rome. So naturally when Rachel and I got home from our meeting in the new Testaccio market, it was the first thing I wanted to see. And photograph. Our conversation ranged widely, from book titles and domain names to the links between the food of Rome and the food of Manchester. And although she says she’s a romantic and prone to nostalgia, it is also clearly the case that Rachel Roddy loves learning about food and cooking, loves sharing what she’s learned, and loves telling stories. Simple ingredients, for a satisfying cookbook and website.

    A couple of other links. Rachel mentioned her friend Fabrizia Lanza and the farm and cooking school she runs in Sicily. Here’s what Rachel wrote recently about a wonderful idea called Cook the Farm. If you decide to follow the link, do give yourself time to pursue Rachel down all her intriguing rabbit holes.

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  2. Chewing the fat about chewing the fat

    Karima Moyer-Nocchi is an American woman who teaches at the University of Siena. When she had been here almost 25 years she developed something of an obsession. On the one hand, she watched “a bewildering decline in the quality and craftsmanship of Italian food together with a skyrocketing deification of it”. On the other, “in a vicious circle, the decline stimulated the explosion of the gastronomic nostaliga industry, which in turn, hastened the very process it claimed to quell”.

    This is not something you would notice. The modern idea is that Italian cuisine has always been more-or-less what it is, and that if there were a difference between social classes, it was more about how often they ate certain dishes, or the quality of the ingredients, than about what they actually ate. As Karima Moyer-Nocchi discovered, that rose-tinted view is at odds with what actually went on.

    In an attempt to make sense of the changes, Moyer-Nocchi turned to women, now aged 90 and more, who had grown up under fascism and who, perhaps, could shed light on the recent history of Italian food. She gently coaxed their memories of food from them, and created a book that is part oral history, part academic history, and that puts the current mania for Italian cuisine in perspective. There’s no way we could cover it all in one interview, but I think you can get some idea of how things have changed, mostly for the better, and also how little one knows about the real history of food in Italy.


    The book is Chewing the Fat: An Oral History of Italian Foodways from Fascism to Dolce Vita, and in the interests of full disclosure, I should mention that if you follow that link straight to Amazon and buy it, I get a teeny reward.

    The banner image, from a photograph by Henri Roger-Viollet (I think), shows Mussolini taking part in the first wheat threshing in Latina in 1932, a temporary victory in the Battle for Wheat. The podcast cover image is from a photograph by Mario Giacomelli.

    In another episode about food in Fascist Italy, I talked to Ruth Lo about the festa dell’uva

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  3. Pasta

    There’s supposed to be this whole mystique surrounding “proper” pasta: how to cook it, which shape with what sauce, how to eat it, all that. And if you’re not born to it, you’ll never really understand it. Well, maybe not, but with a little effort you can get a whole lot closer to authenticity. Maureen Fant, a writer and scholar who has lived in Rome since 1979, has a new book out with her collaborator Oretta Zanini de Vita, making their Encyclopedia of Pasta a tad more kitchen-friendly. Sauces and Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way is a curious blend of the constrained and the relaxed … just like Italy. One of the things they’re relaxed about is shapes for sauces, which came as a bit of a surprise. One of the things they’re not relaxed about is overcooked pasta, which did not.

    There was so much else we could have talked about, and the book is a one of those cookbooks that is as much a good read as a manual of instruction. As for my beloved cacio e pepe, fashionable or not, I am greatly encouraged by the the news that “[t]his is not a dish to make for a crowd … The smaller the quantity, the better the result.” That’s all the encouragement I need.

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  4. Food tours and cooking classes

    It is quite amazing how popular food tours and cooking classes are in Italy. When in Rome, many people seem to want to eat, and cook, like a Roman. Well, not entirely, and not like some Romans. I spoke to Francesca Flore, who offers both tours and cooking classes, and she reserved some choice words for those quintessential Roman dishes based on the famous quinto quarto, the fifth quarter of the carcass. Or, less obtusely, offal.

    Francesca told me that she’s always been interested in food, and that while working in London she decided to take herself off to Australia to study Cooking and Patisserie at the Cordon Bleu School in Sydney. Back in Rome, she put all that knowledge to use catering private parties and branching out into food tours and cooking classes.

    We talked about what people want, what they get, and how she views the past and future of Italian food.

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  5. Why you shouldn’t mess with carbonara | Public Radio International

    Oretta Zanini de Vita and Maureen Fant have penned a new book together called "Pasta the Italian Way." The title underscores the fact that Fant takes Italian food very seriously, and strives to keep it as authentic as possible. And no dish is more sacred, Fant says, than spaghetti alla carbonara.

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  6. The Man, The Can: Recipes Of The Real Chef Boyardee

    Unlike the friendly but fictional food faces of Betty Crocker, Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben, Chef Boyardee — that jovial, mustachioed Italian chef — is real. Ettore "Hector" Boiardi (that’s how the family really spells it) founded the company with his brothers in 1928, after the family immigrated to America from Italy.

    Stewart, Tabori & Chang "Enjoy Ravioli as truly Italian as the Tower of Pisa," read a Chef Boyardee ad that ran in Ladies’ Home Journal. Click Here To See A Larger Version Of The Ad Though America came to know him as Chef Boyardee — in the apron and trademark tall hat — Anna Boiardi knew him simply as Uncle Hector. Anna carried on her family’s culinary tradition; her new book, Delicious Memories, is part cookbook, part family history and part homage to her ancestors — immigrants who made their way in a new country.

    The Beginning Of A Business

    "Italian food at the turn of the century wasn’t what it is today," Boiardi tells NPR’s Michele Norris. "All of the finer restaurants were French restaurants."

    The family settled in Cleveland, where they thought they could open a successful Italian restaurant. "They had a real understanding of food," Boiardi says. It was a generation of people who "grew up in kitchens, so food was really their education."

    Chef Boiardi’s Restaurant in Cleveland was a success, and customers expressed interest in learning how to make Italian dishes at home. So the Boiardis started sending people home with pasta, sauce and cheese and teaching them how to cook, heat and assemble the dishes themselves.

    That’s what got the family thinking: " ‘What if we started jarring our sauce and selling it? Would it sell?’ " Boiardi says. "That was really this germ of an idea … that eventually turned into Chef Boyardee."

    Delicious Memories: Recipes and Stories from the Chef Boyardee Family By Anna Boiardi Hardcover, 208 pages Stewart, Tabori

    —Huffduffed by adactio

  7. Esquire Magazine Food Critic John Mariani —€” How ‘Italian Food’ Became A Global Sensation : NPR

    Twenty years ago, Italian food was regarded as cheap, peasant food. Now it’s served on menus worldwide and considered to be one of the healthiest cuisines. Esquire Magazine’s food critic John Mariani chronicles the story of pizza, macaroni and red sauce in How Italian Food Conquered the World.

    —Huffduffed by adactio