I Came to Italy to Eat

25 Sep

So I always thought I was a pretty good amateur chef, I have always preferred to make my food from scratch, why buy bread crumbs when you can simply pulse toasted bread, why buy tomato sauce, when you can use fresh tomatoes to make your own. In comparison to my microwaving, take out loving, Kraft macaroni and cheese buying peers, I looked pretty good! But all that changed once I got to Italy and realized the great lengths that the Italian people go through to produce a good meal. Fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat of course are a given. Rather then going once a week and stocking up on groceries, the Italians prefer to go to the market more frequently so that they can purchase fresher products. I have been advised by quite a few italian to frequent the markets rather than the supermarkets, at the market the products are fresher and less expensive! Imagine that there’s actually a cost insensitive for buying fresh products where as in the U.S. you practically pay through the nose to find the same quality product!

Also unlike in the U.S. where you can find any type of produce at practically anytime of year, here the stores and markets are only stocked with the produce which is in season, I enjoy challenging myself each time to create recipes around new fruits and vegetables each week.

Even the preparation of ingredients are different here. “yeah, sure I can make a fish dish” I might have told you a month ago, but that when the messy work was done for me and the only thing I was responsible for was sauteing the fish adding some herbs and wallah….easy as pie. But here in Italy things aren’t exactly the same, instead it’s typical to find that most Italians clean the fish themselves, and today I got the opportunity to see just how much work goes into cleaning and filleting a fish when I made amazing fried fish croquettes, these croquettes were delicious and flavorful (find recipe below).

I also learned how to make a traditional Tuscan meat stew called, Scottiglia Aretina. Typically this stew is prepared with several diverse types of meat. Today we used Rabbit, chicken, veal and pork. This stew is delicious and comforting making it a perfect fall or winter meal, it’s also extremely simply to make and can be prepared within an hour (find recipe below).

There’s something so amazing about working hard and then sitting down to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Italians may slave over a hot stove and work hard in the kitchen but they also now how to surrender,sit down and relax by enjoying a nice dinner, they don’t occupy themselves with the  background noise from the tv or a laptop placed strategically in front of them as they eat, instead they solely focus  on savoring their meal by enjoying each bite of food and that’s one of the things that I love most about the Italian lifestyle.

Crocchette di Baccala

Ingredients

1 piece of cod cleaned, with skin and bones removed

3-4 potatoes boiled and skinned

1 clove of garlic minced

3 green olives chopped

3 black olives chopped

1 tbsp of parsley

black pepper

1 egg

1 egg beaten

1-1/2 cups of bread crumb

olive oil as needed

Method

1) In a food processor combine cod, potatoes, and 1 egg, process until the mixture creamy and smooth

2) Add in parsley, garlic, and once again process until smooth

3) Add in olives and mix gently to avoid the mixture changing a different color

4) Season with black pepper

5) Using your hands form small balls about 1 inch in length

6) Roll ball in the beaten egg and then roll in bread crumbs

7) Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium high heat, place ball in the pan and slightly flatten, turn over so that the croquette is slightly golden browned

8) Place croquettes on a paper towel lined plate, serve warm

Scottiglia Arentina

 

 

 

 

Ingredients

A variety of meats ( medium sized piece of each veal, chicken, rabbit, pork)

1 onion chopped

1 clove of garlic minced

1 large carrots chopped finely

1 large celery stalk chopped fine

herbs (basil, sage, parsley)

olive oil

juice from 1 lemon

dry red wine

5 tomatoes, blanched, seeded, and peeled

1 cup of water

stale bread chopped into piece

Method

1) heat 1/3 cup of olive oil over medium high heat, add in celery, carrots, onion, garlic, and herbs, saute until mixture is fragrant, carrots are soft, and onions are translucent

2) Add in meat and saute until meat is browned, add in salt pepper, and cayenne pepper add in juice from one lemon, if your mixture is too dry add in more olive oil

3) Once liquid has evaporated add in one cup of red wine, let evaporate and add in tomatoes, add in 1 cup of water and let simmer until the mixture is thick, add in more salt and pepper

4) Arrange stale bread on a plate cover with the stew and enjoy!

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