If it’s Friday. . . it’s Pesce!

My Risotto ai Gamberi!

Last week I had tweeted this picture and I promised that I would have followed up with a post, so here I am, as promised.

Risotto ai gamberi (Risotto with shrimp) is one of my favorite dish to prepare. It is comforting and fresh at the same time, perfect for Spring.  To me it represents the fusion of Northern and Southern Italy, a good example of Mediterranean diet and just simple goodness.

Risotto is a way of preparing riso (rice) rather than a recipe. The archetype of risotto is “Risotto alla Milanese“, you know. . .  that wonderful yellow risotto – with zafferano (saffron) – that is always married to the “Ossobuco“.

Although the Northern Regions of Lombardia and Piemonte are the capitals of rice, the use of the rice in cooking started in Naples (yes, I know I am biased!) where it was brought by the Spaniards in the fourteenth century. The Neapolitan, however, rapidly became “mangiamaccheroni” (pasta eater) and the rice soon travelled North. In Northern Italy, in particular in the wet Valle del Po (Po Valley), the cultivation of rice found the perfect environment. The immage of the flooded risaie (rice field) are quite impressive.

In 1949, the Italian movie Riso Amaro (Bitter Rice), nominated for the 1950 Academy Award for Best Motion Picture Story, was shot in the countryside and rice-fields of the Po Valley. The story deals with the vicissitudes of the mondine (rice-weeders).

Yet, how can we forget the Sartù? It is one of the richest and elaborated piatti (dish), based on rice, of the traditional Neapolitan cuisine. In the ‘700, Naples was ruled by the French Royal House of Bourbons. The chefs of the Royal French Court developed this recipe; its original French name was Sur-Tout which then became Sartù.

 The Sartù is a sort of rice dome stuffed with meatballs, sausage, peas, mushrooms, boiled eggs, mozzarella and more. . . my husband’s grandmother – nonna Lucia –  used to make it and my husband still rave about it. I am not ready yet for this elaborated preparation but I promised myself that one day I shall try. I will keep you posted.

Back to the rice, there are different varieties of rice: riso tondo or comune (round rice or common), riso fino (fine-rice or rice up), riso semifino (semi-fine rice), riso ultrafino (grain rice, super fine).

The variety of rice you use will affect the recipe. The best rice for risotto is the Vialone Nano, which belongs to the semifino variety. Arborio and Carnaroli, both in the ultrafino variety, are good alternatives.

Carnaroli and Arborio

The Vialone Nano has medium long grains and it has a good ability to release the starch that ensures the creaminess of the risotto. The Arborio and Carnaroli have large and long grain and release less starch.

Once you master the art of preparing the basic risotto, you can let your imagination fly and create any combination you like. I am from Southern Italy and yet, Risotto is one my favorite dish. I make risotto with anything I fancy and anything that it is in season: asparagus, radicchio, lemon, beans, zucchini, potatoes, peas, artichokes, mushroom, butternut squash, safron, gorgonzola cheese, cuttlefish ink, seafood. . . and of course with shrimp!

In my recipe, Risotto, the most typical preparation of Northern Italy, meets the flavor of the Mediterranean Sea and the culture of fish of Southern Italy . . .what better combination!

So here it is, for yet another meatless Friday (or meatless Monday), I give you My Risotto ai Gamberi. This recipe is my own, I have experimented through the years and although it is not the canonic recipe, it is my family’s favorite. To me, that’s all that matters. I hope you will give it a try, I am sure you will love it!

Ricetta Risotto ai Gamberi

Risotto with shrimp

Ingredients for 4 people

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

4 tbsp unsalted butter

1 medium onion finely chopped

2 cups rice – Vialone Nano, Carnaroli or Arborio (Carnaroli is what I had on hand)

20 medium/large shrimp

1/2 cup dry white wine (I also like to use Marsala wine which will make the dish slightly sweeter)

1/4 cup heavy cream

fresh parsley (or few sage leaves)

For the broth

4 -1/2 cups of cold water

2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil

shrimp skin and heads (also tails if you decide to remove them)

1/2 medium onion roughly chopped

1 leek sliced

2 tsp tomato paste

few black pepper grain

salt

Directions

Start with the broth.

Peel the shrimp and remove the head. I like to leave the tail but you can remove it if you want. In a sauce pan heat 2 tsp of extra-virgin olive oil and add the skins and heads (and tails) of the shrimp. Add the onion and leek, stir to coat with oil. Add the cold water, the black pepper grains, and the 2 teaspoons of tomato paste.  Stir to dissolve the tomato paste, this will give the risotto a pretty pink color. Bring to boil and let simmer for 20 minutes, add salt to taste and keep it warm.

Meanwhile devein the shrimp.

In a heavy-bottom pan, heat the oil and 2 tbsp of butter with the onion. Once the onion has softened add the shrimp and and cook on both side until they had taken on color. Remove the shrimp from the pan and set them aside keeping them warm.

Take eight (8) of the shrimp and transfer into the bowl of a food processor, add 1/4 cup of broth and purée the shrimp. Add 1/4 cup of heavy cream and blend together. Set aside.

Add a 1 tbsp of butter and scrape the bottom of the pan to release the bits of shrimp. Add the  rice to the pan and toss to coat with the oil/butter. When the rice is translucent, add the wine and stir until the wine evaporates.

Strain the broth and start adding 1/2 cup at the time, stirring with a wooden spoon, until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Continue adding the broth 1/2 cup at the time, stirring constantly.

After about 15 minutes, add the shrimp purée and the whole shrimp. Stir to combine and continue cooking and stirring for additional 2-3 minutes while keeping adding the broth as necessary.

Taste the rice for texture and seasoning, it should be al dente, tender but not mushy.

When the rice is ready, turn off the heat and stir in the remaining butter, this last step is called mantecare, which I cannot really translate but it makes the risotto perfetto (perfect), so don’t skip it!

Spoon your risotto into serving bowl, sprinkle with freshly grounded pepper and top it with fresh prezzemolo (parsley) – which is typical –  or, as I did, just decorate with a fresh, small foglia di salvia (sage leaf).

Isn't pretty?

Eat it right away!

March 19th, celebrate St. Joseph’s and Italian Father’s Day with a Neapolitan sweet treat: The Zeppole di San Giuseppe

My Zeppole di San Giuseppe

Auguri a tutti i papa` (Best wishes to all of the fathers). Today, March 19th, in Italy we celebrate La Festa del Papa` (Father’s day).

When I was a child, on the afternoon before Father’s Day, my mom and I would go to a nearby field to pick-up the fragrant mammole (violets). The next morning, I would set up a breakfast tray for my dad with the violets nicely gathered in a small glass. A small handcrafted gift and a short letter was usually on the tray as well. This past winter I received, from my brother in Italy, some boxes full of mementos from our mom’s home. In one of the boxes, to my surprise, I found a little red velvet sketch book with a small round cutout window through which you could glimpse a picture of my dad and myself. It was a gift I had made for my dad on Father’s Day, March 19, 1971, I was 8 years old.  Inside the book, dedicated to my dad, there was a prayer, a poem, and a short letter. I guess he loved it and I am so glad that 40 years later I can share it with my children.

If you have been following my blog, by now, you have realized that most of the Italian Holidays are tightly connected to the religious calendar; Father’s Day is no different.  Today, March 19th, the Catholic Church celebrates  San Giuseppe (St. Joseph’s day), foster-father of Jesus and therefore, symbol of all fathers.

I have, however, recently learned  that Father’s day was first celebrated on July 5, 1908 in Fairmont, West Virginia. It was then officially formalized  on June 19, 1910 in Spokane, Washington where Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd, (unaware of the celebration in Fairmont) inspired by the celebrations for Mother’s day, organized the first festival to honor the paternal figure. Mrs. Dodd chose the month of June because that was her father’s birthday.

Once the Holiday arrived in Italy it was decided that it would have been more appropriate to celebrate on March 19th.

In Italy the festivity also coincides with the ancient pagan propitiatory rites of the end of winter, with the burning of the crop’s residues on the field. The rites were accompanied by the preparation of the zeppole, which is the typical sweet treat of this Holiday.

As you can imagine, I make my Zeppole di SanGiuseppe the way they make it in Naples where the first recipe was put on paper, in 1837, by the famous Neapolitan gastronome Ippolito Cavalcanti, Duke of Buonvicino.

I am pretty sure I have already told you that I tend to give an Italian flair to any holiday. So, when this past Saturday, St. Patrick’s Day, I was invited to dinner by some very dear friends, I offered to bring dessert,  I made my zeppole di San Giuseppe and I just sprinkled them with green sugar sprinkles.

The zeppole can be deep fried or baked. I do bake mine.

Ricetta Zeppole di San Giuseppe

Ingredients

For the pastry dough

6 eggs

2-1/3 cup flour

3-1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

2-1/8 cup water

For the pastry cream

2-1/8 cup whole milk

2 egg yolks

1/2 cup sugar

2/3 cup flour

2 strip lemon peel

To garnish:

powdered sugar

drained cherries is syrup

Directions:

Pour the water into a saucepan with the butter and a pinch of salt, turn heat to medium and when the water begins to make the first bubbles, but not boiling, pour the flour all at once and stir vigorously for 10 minutes with a wooden spoon until the mixture will detach from the edges of the pan.

Turn off the heat and add the 6 eggs, one at a time.

Stir vigorously, with a wooden spoon. Each egg must be well incorporated throughout the mixture, before you add another egg (this is not easy, you can also use your standing mixer with the hook attachment or, you can use your hands).

Let stand for 20-25 minutes.

Now prepare the Crema Pasticcera (Pastry Cream)

In a pot work the sugar with the egg yolks until mixture is white and fluffy.

Add the sifted flour, stirring to avoid lumps. Slowly add the milk and lastly the two pieces of lemon peel.

Place the pot on the stove and thicken the cream over medium heat without boiling, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or a whisk.

Remove the lemon peel and cool. Take a piece of plastic wrap pushed on the surface of the cream to avoid the formation of a crust on the surface.

Preheat the oven to 430 degree.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Fill a pastry bag or pastry syringe, attached with a 1/2 inch star tip, with the pastry dough and press the mixture onto the sheet giving it a spiral shape.

Bake the zeppole for 10 minutes then turn the temperature down to 400 degree and cook for 10 more minutes. Remove form oven, transfer to a cooling rack.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar once they’ve cooled slightly.

Before you top with the pastry cream make sure the zeppole are completely cool.

Place the pastry cream into a pastry bag fitted with a 12mm star tip.  Into the center of each zeppole, pipe the pastry cream.

Now, as I mentioned to honor St. Patrick’s Day I sprinkled my zeppole with green sugar sprinkles.

Pretty in green!

The Neapolitan zeppole are topped with amarena cherries, you can use any kind of sour cherries, in syrup or, simple maraschino cherries.

They should be eaten the day they’ve been made.  Enjoy!


Spring is on the corner. . . green peas are calling!

The warm days leading to Primavera (Spring) are here and this wonderful season comes with a basket full of fresh produce. While it is true that it is possible to find almost any produce all year long either frozen, grown in greenhouses or coming from somewhere on earth, there is not better satisfaction than using seasonal, local ingredients.

Which one amongst produce speak to you about Spring? To me is piselli (green peas)! How can I forget  when as a child, on my mom side, I was helping to shell the piselli freschi (fresh green peas)! And when a very tiny one would come out of the pod,  I would eat it just like that, raw. . . and I can still taste the sweetness of it.

I definitely associate certain dishes with Spring. One is the Agnello di Pasqua (Easter Lamb), baked with green peas and potatoes, and another one is definitely the pasta e piselli (pasta and green peas).

My other Spring favorites are carciofi (artichokes) and asparagi ( asparagus).

Two nights ago, the warm weather and a trip to the grocery store reminded me that it was no longer time for stew, polenta, and soup but it was time to switch – just like your wardrobe- to the Spring menu.

And guess what? A basket of fresh green peas was before my eyes, just waiting for me, and I immediately knew what was going to be on my dinner table : pasta e piselli, of course!

Before I give out my recipe, there is something I should confess. To my complete disappointment, once I started shelling the fresh green peas I soon realized that they were not very good; the peas inside the pods (except for a handful) didn’t have the bright green color that you would expect, they were pale and hard. After the initial discontent, I got over the fact that I couldn’t actually use the fresh spring green peas that I was longing for, but I had to rely on the bag of frozen organic sweet peas that was in my freezer. Except for my personal disappointment the final product was delicious anyway.

For the most part, this is the traditional recipe of pasta e piselli like my mom used to make. I have added, however, few unconventional elements: the snow peas for crunchiness and the fresh mint for aroma and freshness. I also puréed part of the green peas to achieve some creaminess.

I hope you will enjoy it. Oh, and did I mention that you can add this dish to your meatless Friday (or Monday) and to your Mediterranean diet’s recipe book?

Which is your favorite Spring recipe? Do you usually make an effort to use seasonal, local ingredients?

RICETTA PASTA E PISELLI

Ingredients for 4 persons

2-3/4 cups mezzi ditalini tubetti pasta (My preferred brand is De Cecco)

2 pounds of fresh green peas (this should yield to 2 or 2-1/2 cups of unshelled peas)

OR 1 bag of frozen sweet peas

1/2 onion finely sliced

1 slice of ham 1/4 inch thick and cut into short strips (I use grilled Tuscan cooked ham). You can also use pancetta cubed into 1/2 inch pieces.

4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

4 cups vegetables broth (warm)

10 snow peas

few leaves of fresh mint

Directions

If using frozen peas:

1)  To defrost the peas I place them in a colander and I set the colander under cold running water for few minutes. Transfer half of the peas to a food processor, start pulsing, add a little broth and run the food processor to purée the peas. Set aside.

2) In a heart ware pot heat the oil with the onion and the ham. Add some salt and cook until the ham is golden. Add the snow peas and the whole peas and stir to combine the flavors.

3) Add the peas purée and stir to combine. Add few leaves of mint (save 4 for presentation).

4) Cook few more minutes then add 3 cups of the broth. Add salt, pepper  and cooking on medium heat, bring to boil. add the pasta and cook for the required time (if more liquid is needed add the remaining broth). Make sure you stir frequently so the pasta doesn’t stick together and do not over cook the pasta, it must be al dente!

4) Before spooning into individual plate remove the mint’s leaves (once they are cooked the color is not appealing). Plate the pasta and right before serving decorate with a small leaf of fresh mint. If you desire you can drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil.

Doesn’t just the color of this dish tell you that is Spring?

Wow, this dish is quite green. Italian twist on St. Patrick’s day anyone?

NOTE: if you are using fresh peas, during step 2 will shall add all the unshelled peas. You will skip step 3. In step 4 you will cook the peas for 15 minutes then spoon off 1/2 of the peas, purée them in the food processor and then transfer back into the pan. Cook 5 more minutes, bring to boil and then follow the directions for cooking the pasta.

Friday night flavorful meatless dinner

Who said that the days of magro (days of fasting or meatless) cannot be flavorful?

Do you know that during the Middle Age, the Christian’s observance of Lent and the various religious fasts added up to an estimated 130 days a year?

The Italian cuisine is rich of exquisite meatless dishes based on fish and vegetables, and today I am going to share with you My Friday night dinner. Two recipes, simple enough to require only a handful of ingredients and only 30 minutes of your time, but at the same time, rich of flavor, comforting and satisfying.

Pesce Spada in salmoriglio (Swordfish in Salmoriglio), with a side of Melanzane a funghetto.

Both dishes are perfect examples of Mediterranean diet. In fact, fish, vegetable, olive oil, and aromatic herbs are the staples of this diet.

The pesce spada in salmoriglio is a typical recipe of both the Calabria and the Sicilia  regions. The melanzane a funghetto is a contorno (side dish)  typical of the Neapolitan cuisine. For the eggplant, I use my mom’s recipe which also happens to be my husband’s favorite. In the most canonical version of the recipe, the eggplants are deep fried, the tomato sauce is cooked separately and the two ingredients are combined only at the end. My mom’s recipe, however, is a little lighter, because the eggplants are not deep fried.

The swordfish is simply grilled or – when it’s cold outside – seared in a skillet, and it is then drizzled with the salmoriglio, which is a raw sauce made with olive oil, fresh parsley, fresh oregano, lemon, garlic, and capers. As often happens, there are several variations of this sauce, some with capers some without, some where the sauce is simmered  a bagnomaria (wet bath) and some where the ingredients are simply emulsified. I do use the capers and I do the wet bath.

I shall say that in the preparation of the salmoriglio the use of the fresh oregano is important because is less pungent than the dry oregano, but I have to confess that last night I realized too late that my oregano’s plant had not survived the winter and that I had forgotten to buy a fresh spring at the market. Solution: use dry oregano, a little stronger flavor but, still good.

Well, I am sad to say that the oregano was not the only thing missing. . . the whole herbs section went forgotten! The BASIL!! How could I have forgotten the basil for my eggplant? Oh, I have an excuse: at the end of summer I freeze my fresh basil. Few weeks ago, however, my freezer broke and I was forced to throw away everything. . . including my basil. My mom’s melanzane a funghetto without the sweet scented basil would have been a big NO-NO, yet my husband and I enjoyed the dish and were happy to have leftover for today’s lunch.

RICETTA PESCE SPADA IN SALMORIGLIO

Swordfish is Salmoriglio Sauce

Ingredients for  4 persons

4 swordfish steak, not too tick

A handful of flat-leaf parsley

2 sprigs of fresh oregano

1 garlic clove

1 tablespoon of capers ( I prefer caper in salt)

The juice of 1 lemon

1 tsp of grated lemon zest

extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper.

Directions

Start with the salmoriglio sauce. Finely chop the garlic, oregano and parsley with a knife or, like me with a mezzaluna (half-moon chopper) – did I tell you this is one my favorite kitchen gadget? – and set aside.

In a small bowl wisk together ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil, the lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Wisk the ingredients, set the bowl in a small pan with simmering water on low heat – this is the bagnomaria (water bath) – and add the minced garlic, parsley and oregano, wisk and let the sauce slowly warm up.

Lastly add the chopped capers and the grated lemon zest. One more wisk and it’s ready!

For the fish,  grease a grill grate with olive oil and set it over high heat. Sprinkle both sides of the fish with kosher salt and black pepper.

Once the grill is hot, cook the swordfish, for about 5 minutes per side ( 3-4 minutes for thin steak).

The flash has to be opaque. Make sure it is nice and browned at least on one side.

Plate the swordfish and drizzle with the sauce on top.

Doesn’t it look delicious?

And to go along . . .

RICETTA MELANZANE A FUNGHETTO

(In Naples these are called Mulignane a fungetiello)

Ingredients for four persons

4 eggplants (possibly the Italian kind, long and small)

1 can of chopped plum tomatoes ( San Marzano are the best)

extra virgin olive oil

1 glove of garlic

salt

few leaves of basil

Directions

Dice the eggplant, transfer to a colander sprinkle with salt, cover with a flat plate and put something heavy on top. Let sit for 1 hour so the eggplant will release all the bitter water out of the eggplant. Rinse, squeeze and pat dry.

In a frying pan heat 6 tablespoon of olive oil with a clove of crushed garlic. When the oil is warm and the garlic is golden, add the eggplant, stir well so they are coated with the fragrant oil and cook for 10-15 minutes on medium heat.

Add the chopped plum tomatoes and salt to taste.

Cook 10  more minutes. Lastly add the hand chopped basil – NO BASIL IN MINE THIS TIME! –

This is not just a delicious side dish, think of it as a great appetizer along with some fresh mozzarella or, on top of crostini (toasted bread bruschetta style).

NOTE: A funghetto, means in a small mushrooms style. When the eggplants are diced in small cubes and fried the are indeed similar to mushrooms.

Old Age. . . A Poem

Today, March 8th, is International Women day. In Italy we call it  Festa della donna (Women’s day) and the fragrant yellow mimosa flower is the symbol of this holiday.

Today, one year ago, my madre (mother) was laid to rest, coincidentally, on the same day that my father was born. I keep thinking that she didn’t want him to spend another birthday alone and I comfort myself thinking that today, they must be celebrating in Paradise.

So, on this day I celebrate all women, and in memory of the strong woman who my mother was, I will share with you another beautiful poesia (poem) by Annabella Mele. I have introduced you to this Italian poetess in my January’s post, First snow, and today’s poem is a testament to her talent and her heart.

You can listen to the poem in Italian while following the text and then read the English translation at the bottom of the post.

Mimosa flower, courtesy of cepolina.com

Original poem in Italian

SENETTUTE

Negli occhi. . . il disegno

di un nido. . .

sognato la notte, bramato

di giorno. . .

La pelle odorosa di cibo

e di bucato. . .

profumo di sano, di buono,

d’antico. . .

Vita vissuta. . .

affolla la mente, gioca con le ombre,

abbatte i contorni. . .

Crescono nodi di gomitoli di lana

tra fragili fili d’argento. . .

mentre sorridi, ascoltando

echi festosi dietro aquiloni

o sulle spume di un mare

lontano,

e lentamente ti abbandoni

al tuo mondo

dell’uguale e del diverso,

del noto e dell’ignoto,

dove il giorno si confonde

con la notte e le stagioni,

i mesi e i giorni s’inseguono,

volitivi e capricciosi,

senza alcun rispetto

per quegli occhi velati

che aspettano, invano,

anche solo per un atimo,

piccoli barlumi della luca

di un tempo.

English translation

OLD AGE

In the eye. . . the shape
of a nest. . .
dreamed the night, coveted
during the day. . .
The skin smelling of food

and laundry. . .

scent of healthful, good,

of antique. . .

Life lived. . .

crowds the mind, plays with shadows,

breaks down the boundaries. . .

Yarn’s knots grow

between fragile threads of silver. . .

while you smile, listening

gaily echoes running with kites

or the foam of the sea

away,

and slowly you abandon yourself

to your world

of equal and different,

of known and unknown,

where day merges

through the night and the seasons,

the months and days follow each other,

volitive and capricious,

with no respect

for those veiled eyes

waiting, in vain,

even for a moment,

little glimmers of the light

that once was.

A place of my childhood . . . Paestum

Paestum is an ancient Graeco-Roman city in the Italian Region of Campania. It is located in the Cilento and Valle di Diano National Park, near the Tyrrhenean sea.

Paestum was founded in 600 B.C. by Greek colonists and its original name was Poseidonia in honor of the Greek’s Sea God, Poseidon.

In 273 B.C. the Romans took possession of the city, and they renamed it to Paestum.

In the 9th century, the Saracens’ incursions, along with the mosquitoes infected by malaria, forced the inhabitants to abandon the  city that was later buried by swamps caused by the river Sele. Paestum remained hidden until 1748, when the excavation for the construction of a new road brought to light the well preserved Greek-Roman temples.

If you visit Paestum you will be astonished by the grandeur of the standing remains of three major temples. These temples are  the best preserved Doric temples in the world, outside of Greece. The temples have been traditionally identified as the Basilica and the temples of Neptune and Ceres. In reality, however, they were dedicated to Hera and Athena.

In Paestum you will also able to visit the National Archeological Museum of Paestum that documents the evolution and transformation of the city; here, you will be able to admire some architectural and sculptural decoration from the excavation, and the painted slabs of so-called Tomba del Tuffatore (Tomb of the Diver), the sole example of painting of the Greek age of Magna Grecia.

But Paestum is not only an archeological site, on your way to Paestum you will travel along the so called Strade della Mozzarella (Roads of the Mozzarella). It appears that at the beginning of the 9th century AD, the Muslim Arabs introduced the water buffalo in the area. More than 1000 years later, Paestum and the plain of river Sele are home to the tame herds of water buffalo whose milk is used to craft the delicious mozzarella di bufala. Both sides of Route 18 are pullulated with cheese factories where you will be able to savor the freshly made mozzarella and many more specialties, all derived from water buffalo’s milk.

Few years ago, on an afternoon trip to Paestum with my family we stopped at one these caseifici (cheese factories) and my youngest son, Mattia, could not stop eating the still warm bocconcini di mozzarella (mini bites). With his mouth full, he kept saying : “ Oh my God, this is the best thing I have ever eaten! “. You would never know until you taste the real thing!

For me Paestum is not just about the magnificent temples or the tasty mozzarella. Paestum has a special place in my heart. I have spent most summers of my childhood on the sandy beaches just north of the archeological site. When people ask me why I wanted to be an architect, my mind goes always back to Paestum, to the memory of the temples and to the end of summer when, back home, I used my wooden blocks to recreate the temples.

How many beautiful memories I have, the soft and warm sand, the cavalloni (giant swells), the sandcastles, the merry-go-round on the beach, the quiet afternoon on the shaded porch playing with the lizards, the smell of pines from the vast pineta (a large area of pine trees), the foraging for blackberries, the sweet figs, the artichokes’ fields, the bright red tomatoes, the herds of water buffalo in the field along the road and the freshly made mozzarella di bufala (buffalo mozzarella), the gelato at the bar of the lido (bathing establishment), the afternoons horsing around at the Greeks temples, the stairs to the top of the Saracen Tower, the strolls with my big brothers, the lingering fragrance of the gigli di mare (sea lily) growing out of the sand, the color of the oleanders, the waves of velvety ‘piante di sigari’ (cattail), the hours spent learning how to swim, the evening watching my parents dancing under the stars, the fuochi d’artificio (fireworks) to celebrate the Ferragosto, the dark nights brightened by the miryads of fireflies. . .

Lately, I also learned that my two wonderful older brothers used their cute little sister (me) to attract all the pretty girls on the beach. I have not memory of that and  it seems hard to believe considering how jealous of them I was. . . I remember that!

My boys

Few years ago, I went back to Paestum with my children because I wanted to share with them this place so special to me, and today I share with you few of the pictures I shot on that lovely afternoon.

I hope you will all have a chance to visit this beautiful place.

Learning the Italian Language. Chapter two

I am back sharing my beautiful language with my list of words of the month. If you have been following my blog you should recognize many Italian words from my January and February’s posts.

A little note to apologize for my list looking waving. I cannot figure out how to use the tab command on this blog site. If any of you know how, please help me!

PAROLE ITALIANE

FOOD          

Minestrone                      Minestrone – a vegetable based soup

Biscotti                           All kind of hard cookies

Befanini                          Tuscan biscotti

Calzoni                           pizza dough stuffed with mozzarella,

                                      ricotta and salame. Baked

Panzerotti                       similar to calzone, stuffed with mozzarella

                                      and tomatoes. Deep fried

Charlotte di pere              pear pie

Crostata                          fruit tart

Pizzetta fritta                   fried small pizza

Pastacresciuta                fried leavened dough

Pomodori                        tomatoes

Crocche di patate            potatoes croquet

Torta                               cake

Pere                               pears

Torta Caprese                 flourless chocolate cake

                                      typical of Capri

Ripieno                           stuffing

Chiacchiere                     strips of dough, deep-fried

Sanguinaccio                   thick chocolate custard

ABOUT FOOD          

Friggitoria                        local shop selling deep

                                      fried food

Colazione                        breakfast

Pranzo                            lunch

Cena                               dinner/supper

Al forno                           oven baked

Forno a legna                  wood oven

Fritto                               deep-fried

Dieta                               diet

Dieta Mediterranea           Mediterranean Diet

GREETINGS          

Buon San Valentino         Happy Valentine’s day

HOLIDAYS          

Epifania                           Epiphany

Befana                            Old good witch of the Epiphany

San Valentino                  Valentine’s day

Festa degli Innamorati      Valentine’s day

Carnevale                        Carnival – Mardi Gras

Martedì Grasso                Fat Tuesday

Mercoledì delle ceneri       Ash Wednesday

Quaresima                       Lent

Pasqua                            Easter

GENERAL          

Poesia                            poem

Gruppo Cultura Italian       Italian Group for Culture

Inverno                            Winter

Calza                               sock – stocking

Letterina                           short letter

Stile di vita                       lifestyle

Funicolare                        funicular railway

Segreto                            secret

Maschere                         masks – Also the traditional

                                        characters of Carnival

Coriandoli e stelle filanti      confetti and streamers

Rinascimento                      Renaissance

Ballo in maschera               Masquerade ball

Commedia dell” Arte           Comedy of crafts

Una bonta                          a delicacy

Calle                                 narrow streets in Venice

Buonissimo                       extremely good

Here you have it, a full list of words for you to practice.

Which is your favorite Italian word?

Remember, If you live in Frederick County (MD), Montgomery County (MD), Washington Metropolitan Area, and the Princeton (NJ) Area, and you are interested in Italian language classes visit my website www.sharingmyitaly.com  You will also find information on cooking classes and consultation for custom designed trip in Italy.