May 9, 2007

Home grown

Today’s entry is on a topic everyone loves: food, Italian food, what else.

My question is, if Americans go so crazy about Italian food when they come here, what is stopping them from just eating better at home?

The answer came this evening, its all in the ingredients – certainly not a profound observation but one that hit home as I made my way through a new recipe.

It all started with an overflowing bag of fave beans that my husband picked up along the roadside in Maccarese (north of Rome) – the Roman mecca for fava beans in the spring. We cracked open the pods and munched our way through quite a few of them one evening with a chunk of pecorino romano on the side and a bottle of wine from Montepulciano (with a little help from our friends). Then I made a pasta with fave, pancetta, lattuga and pecorino – that was good too. But there were still some left, so I dug out a few old May issues of the La Cucina Italiana magazines and found this:

Insalata di polpo, fave e pomodorini. The picture was great and I had a bag of frozen cooked and diced polpo (octupus) in the freezer thanks to a BoFrost special. Then I blanched the fave beans, eliminated the skins by pinching the darker green insides into a bowl, sliced open the pomodorini and put them in the oven with some olive oil and fresh origano for 20 minutes or so. Next and last step was putting all three into a large bowl for serving. A huge success.

Back to the ingredients:
Polpo – never seen that slimy (and tasty) beast in the US.
Fave beans – lima beans do not come close and I have never seen anything else similar.
Pomodorini – those watery, plastic cherry tomatoes can never compare to the jewels I pick up at Pina and Lazy left-eye Leonardo’s shop that come straight from Puglia.
Olive oil – ditto above
Fresh origano – from my Calabrian neighbor who grows her own.

So how would I make this dish in the US?

A domani,

lazy left-eyed Leonardo having his morning snack, prepared by Pina.


KC said...

There was an interesting article in the New York Times a while back about how the way the U.S. government sets food policy has a grave effect on the types of food available to consumers. One of the problems is that crops like corn and soy are favored, leading to an overabundance of the ingredients that go into making processed food, and reducing space and incentives for more raising diverse crops. It was truly discouraging reading.

I am thankful everyday for the fresh, varied, and economical produce we have here in Italy.

Candace Dempsey said...

The United States is a very large country, so it is possible to find all of the ingredients for your yummy recipes in some places. Octupus is easily found in Seattle, along with tasty tomatoes etc. Fresh fava beans can be found much later in year, but are hard to find. It is dried fava beans that are hard to find.

Italian families have always cooked Italian food in the U.S. That's all we ate in my house!

P.S. You sound like a wonderful cook and I like your sense of fun.

Anonymous said...

I'm fortunate to live in a city that offers local farmer markets and alternatives to fast food. I'd like to feel that the tide is turning. Not only foodies want real food.