All posts filed under: Italian

ravioli di zucca e amaretti

Ravioli di Zucca e Amaretti

A few weeks ago, in our old village church, my twin sister got married. It was wonderful, and I was floating atop a fluffy wedding cloud for days afterwards. Not just because it was such a gloriously happy day, but because it objectively was the best kind of wedding. You know, the sort that sees you chauffeured to the reception in 1940s jeeps, laughing and giddy because it’s raining and windy and you’re driving along an A road in a car without doors. But you don’t care! Because your sister’s getting married and there are pies to eat, and oh look, a swing band’s just started, and hurrah! Your love is there to spin you round the dance floor the whole night. So yes, it was the best sort of wedding. But that was three weeks ago, and I definitely should’ve told you all about it before now (sorry), largely because quite a lot has happened since. For one, I started my MA at SOAS last week, resulting in me heading back to London for the first time in two months. And oh Read More

Lemon and asparagus risotto

As a teenager I spent a few years working in a greengrocers. On the whole, I hated it. There was no heating so I’d spend those dreaded Saturday mornings wrapped in scarves with a hot water bottle stuffed inside my coat. When I wasn’t fending off the advances of the butcher boy opposite, I was hauling sacks of veg into the shop, or advising on varieties of potatoes, but mostly I was just  desperately trying to stay warm. The highlight of the year was always the day we sold our first bunch of asparagus. It meant spring had arrived. There was no greater job than piling the trestle table high with those slender stalks. Soon the local strawberries would arrive too — sweet, plump, joyous — and then the gooseberries, bullet-like next to the soft wisps of elderflower that crowned the table. From there, the fruit and vegetables would come flooding in. Most were brought in by locals. We even had peaches, ripe, blushing and as big as your fist, picked only hours earlier from an Italian lady’s garden. Read More

Polenta: A History

Every cuisine is built on a staple food – a starchy backdrop to the main event. It might be potatoes, rice, bread, or, if you’re from the north of Italy, polenta. Cheap, rib-sticking, and innately comforting, it is – as tradition dictates – the perfect starchy staple. Yet, ever since Elizabeth David introduced the UK to the idea of polenta in the 1950s (described as a “finely ground Indian corn meal”), it has failed to escape the middle class cupboard; lost in the shade of pasta and pizza. Even in some corners of Italy, this cheap grain has taken on chic status. An irony considering it’s rather desperate past.  Polenta first found its way onto the Italian plate two thousand years ago. Known as polemtum, the simple millet porridge was a staple for the Roman foot soldier, who would have to pound and boil a daily ration of grain. As centuries past and empires fell, polenta remained. With the introduction of buckwheat to Italy at the end of the fifteenth century it experienced a slight facelift, Read More