“I think American pioneers did not know to make a good salami or prosciutto so they could not preserve their meat properly. This is why you have the barbecue sauce: to hide this taste of rotting meat.”
--from Asbury Park Press
"My inspiration came from New York and Italy. I spent some time in Naples, really grasping Neopolitan pizza." Was he preparing to open a pizzeria? Not exactly. "I was looking around and asking myself, 'Who's doing this mobile?' I found a guy in Staten Island who manufactured trailers," he explains. "But then I thought, 'Why have a truck that could pull a trailer?' " Medico's father came up with the idea of condensing the two — and that's when Pizza Luca was born. (more...)
Italians react with fury to olive trees being cut down calling officials 'assassins' Officials are cutting down the trees in Puglia in a bid to halt the advance of a deadly bacterium but landowners and conservationists are upset.... (more...)
Pizza Toppings Used in Italy
In Italy, only meats made with pork are acceptable on an authentic Italian pizza. Salami, prosciutto, ham, sausage – all are pork. Chicken and beef are not used. Beef is rarely seen on top of pizza. Even bresaola, a thin sliced (sliced paper thin, like proscuitto) is hard to find on a pizza.
Do You Speak Italian?
From This Italian Life, by Phyllis Macchioni
CHIAVARI, Italy - If you are one of those who stays up nights studying Italian before embarking on your trip to Italy and you still didn’t understand anything when you get here, all I can say is join the club. It happens to everyone. What Italian teachers don’t tell you is that Italians don’t really speak Italian, I mean they do speak Italian of course, but not all the time. Let me explain... (more...)
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — The first Italian woman in space is now the world's first orbiting barista.
Over the weekend, astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti fired up the first espresso machine in space. She posted a photo of herself on Twitter from the International Space Station on Sunday, sipping from a cup designed for use in zero-gravity. (more...)
A Recipe from This Italian Life blog: (more...)
History of Fettuccine all' Alfredo
Alfredo Di Lelio, was the creator of Fettuccine all’Alfredo in 1908 in a small family restaurant run by his mother Angelina in Rome, Piazza Rosa (this piazza no longer exists).
The story goes that his after his wife gave birth to their firstborn son, Armando, her health declined. Alfredo, concerned for her wellbeing, tried all sorts of healthy and nutritious recipes to nurse her back to health. One of these dishes was flat noodles mixed with butter and fresh Parmesan. As a good Catholic, to be sure he covered all bases, he also prayed to St. Anna, the patron saint of pregnant women. His wife Ines ate the dish with gusto and recovered, then suggested he add the dish to the family restaurant's menu.
Afterwards, di Lelio opened the restaurant Alfredo in 1914 in Rome, after leaving the restaurant of his mother Angelina (after all, as most Italian men do, they only leave Mama after they are married and starting a family of their own). The fame of fettuccine all’Alfredo spread first locally and then to the rest of the gastronomical world. With his wild mustache he himself became a celebrity, as famous as the movie stars he posed with for photos, always holding a handful of fettuccine trying to stuff the face of his famous victims.
In 1943, during the war, Di Lelio sold Ristorante Alfredo to others outside his family. In 1950 Di Lelio decided to reopen a restaurant with his son Armando on the Piazza Augusto Imperatore across from the tomb of Augustus. Il Vero Alfredo (the REAL Alfredo), which is now managed by his nephews Alfredo and Ines, with the famous logo of the gold cutlery (fork and spoon) donated in 1927 by two well-known, old school American actors Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks (in gratitude for his hospitality). In Rome there are many other restaurants called "Alfredo" that have nothing to do with the Di Lelio family lineage. In a way, this reminds me of the story of "Ray's Pizza" in Manhattan. There are many... "Ray's Original Pizza", "Famous Ray's Pizza" and "World-Famous Original Ray's Pizza"and even a "Not Ray's Pizza"... recently there were 49 variations of "Ray's" pizza shops in New York City.
Il Vero Alfredo is in the registered in Rome's Historic Shops of Excellence and has been visited by just about every famous person you can imagine--presidents, movie stars, musicians, artists--you name them, and more than likely, they've eaten there--at least, back in the 1950s and 60s. Today you never see Italians or celebrities eating there. The atmosphere is old world, a bit stuffy, the ancient waiters wearing white jackets with yellow tablecloths to match the intense color of the fettuccine Alfredo being served.
The bottom line is, the fame of fettucine all' Alfredo mostly spread to places other than Italy itself. Most Italians don't eat it or haven't heard of it. It's an old import from the days of Sinatra, shark skin suits and men wearing hats. Italians think of it as an American dish. Perhaps this is because Italians don't typically have butter on their pasta (or their bread, for that matter). However, if you want to search out the "birthplace" of fettucine alfredo, while discovering the roots of the Olive Garden, book a reservation and follow the tourists into the dining room of Il Vero Alfredo. You'll have a fairly good meal, be taken care of properly by lack luster waiters and be serenaded by someone playing accordion... over and over and over again during your meal. You might even see Alfredo's grandson (Alfredo III) sporting the same outlandish 'stach as his father (Armando, aka Alfredo II) and grandfather did, wandering around trying to stuff mouths with fist-fulls of fettuccine.
Il Vero Alfredo
Piazza Augusto Imperatore 30
00186 Rome Italy Phone number +39 06 6878734
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Copyright, Jerry Finzi, Grand Voyage Italy, All rights reserved
"The streets are wider, the autos are bigger, the supermarkets larger and better stocked and the cities more populated. American homes seem like mansions and high-rise buildings are unbelievable. Even the American people are bigger - at least at the waistline."
Rice balls were something that my Mom never made. I don't remember any of my aunts making them, either... not on my Dad's side or my Mom's side of the famiglia. But Lisa's Dad made them... his family was from Sicily. We'll get to her recipe a bit later, but first...
a Brief history of Arancini:
In researching the history of arancini, I discovered some interesting facts.... Not particularly famous outside of Italy, arancini are big rice balls, some are the size of oranges. In fact, the word arancia means “orange”. Arancini--whether orange size or smaller--are usually filled with a savory mixture. Common fillings include meat sauce with peas; prosciutto and cheeses like provolone, mozzarella or pecorino; eggplant and tomatoes; diced capers.
Also called sartù,
or riso frittata, the arancino has been a part of traditional Southern Italian cuisine for several centuries. In the Campania region, the arancino was first introduced into the Kingdom of Naples by the Aragones who called them, simply, palle di riso (rice balls). It seems that the term arancina was first coined in Sicily, where several regions and provinces claim to be the homeland of the dish. There are even those who claim that Milan’s signature dish of Saffron Risotto is nothing more than a poorly executed arancina that fell apart on a plate – the Milanese, of course, don’t agree.
The traditional arancino comes in two main variants: the first is perfectly round in shape filled with a ragu sauce of meat, mozzarella and peas; the second is called al burro (“with butter”) and has a longer, pear-like shape and is filled with diced mozzarella and prosciutto and grated cheese. In the Sicilian city of Catania, the Arancino alla Norma (with eggplant) and a version with Bronte pistachios are among the most popular. In other regions the fillings might include mushrooms, sausage, gorgonzola, chicken, swordfish and even squid ink.
Here's the recipe. Lisa changed a few things here and there and merged some recipes trying to duplicate the way her Dad used to make them, but mainly for me, she left our the chopped chicken liver. (ugh... thanks, Sweetie!)
• 2 cups arborio rice
• 4 cups water
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 2 eggs, separated
• 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
• 1/4 cup butter, melted
• 1/3 pound ground beef
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 1/2 cup Italian tomato sauce
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon pepper
• ¼ teaspoon oregano
• ½ teaspoon basil
• ¼ teaspoon ground pepper flakes
• 1-1/2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
• Canola oil for deep-fat frying (or Olive Oil)
1. Put water into saucepan and add rice. Simmer the rice for 15 minutes until done but still a bit al dente. Let the rice cool down before adding the egg. Mix in the egg, cheese and butter. Cover in a bowl and refrigerate.
2. Next get a large sauté pan. Drizzle in some olive oil and cook the onions until translucent. Then add the meat and spices, salt and pepper, cook until meat is browned. Next, add the tomato sauce to the meat and onions.
3. Take the rice out of the refrigerator, add the meat mixture to the rice mix and incorporate it throughout. Form the rice-meat mix into balls about the size of a large ping pong ball. Wet your hands to help things along. Lay each finished ball on a sheet of wax paper as you work. (If you want to make this a bit cheesier, try using some grated or small chunks of mozzarella inside the balls).
4. Place egg whites and bread crumbs in two separate bowls. Dip rice balls in egg whites, then roll in the bread crumbs. In a deep sauté pan or deep-fat fryer (what I used), heat oil to 375°. Fry rice balls, a few at a time, for 1-2 minutes, turning to brown evenly. They should look golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
Serve as an appetizer with some tomato sauce or as a side for something like brasciole or chicken. If you’re a real carb freak, try it with some spaghetti. Or go off the deep end and serve spaghetti, one meatball and one rice ball per plate. You can put some grated mozzarella on top, melt the cheese and put some sauce on the side for a nice antipasti. Make them smaller, stick toothpicks in them, then dip them in cups of sauce--a great snack while watching a good old Italian movie. Or make them like big oranges and see if you can eat more than one.... Boun Appetito!
--Jerry & Lisa Finzi
If you enjoyed this recipe, please leave a comment and let us know how yours came out. Don't forget to LIKE and SHARE this post. Grazie!
Copyright, Jerry Finzi, Grand Voyage Italy, All rights reserved
A priceless Italian statue of Hercules from the 18th Century had it’s marble crown shattered into pieces--by a selfie! More...
Recipe: Zuppa Riboletta
This recipe is for a famous Tuscan soup whose name, ribollita, simply means reboiled. This recipe can be traced back to the traditional Italian style of peasant cooking when ingenuity was necessary to feed your family, and every little scrap of food was used.... (more....)