My happy moments from 2014, New Year’s resolutions and snow

The Snow Queen Milla.

The Snow Queen Milla.

It’s snowing from yesterday. Italy, the land of the sun around here looks pretty much like Winterfell, but I’m not Arya Stark even though I got her short hair and her surly attitude.

town hall square in Campobasso, Molise, Italy

Town hall square in Campobasso, Molise, Italy.

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Quite a lot of snow I would say.

Milla, my 9 year old cocker spaniel is snoring at my feet enjoying her cozy blanket. I guess in a perfect wintery scenario the only things that are missing in the picture are the sound of crackling fire and a hot chocolate with marshmallow. Too bad I don’t have either of them, but I can fake it with the virtual fireplace sound on a 5 hour long youtube video and a Nutella jar.

Usually the end of December leads to make new resolutions for the next year, but they almost never work, at least for me, like the classic losing weight, or spending less money on unnecessary stuff. Because let’s face it, these two are the hardest promises to keep for a woman, am I right?

The last couple of months have been really tough on both G and I, so there’s not as much enthusiasm to start a new year as the previous New Year’s Eves. However, I feel it’s necessary not to give up to negativity, so the one and only resolution I am making for 2015 and my future as well, is to work really hard on myself in order to start finding happiness in every little thing.

2015 will be a year of change and I know it for sure. It’s not just the holidays’ atmosphere to do the talking, but the recent circumstances that are pushing me to do something, more like a make it or break it kind of situation.

I like to keep this blog as a drama free place, so I want to start my important resolution from here.

As you might have previously read on The Weird Frittata, every month I like to write a chart/bucket list of products/places I loved and recommend. This time it’s different, because I’m going to write what made me happy during 2014 even what it looks like to be negative, because I want to believe there is a bright side in everything.

So, here it is:

  • The early months of 2014 spent at home in Italy with my family. Even the unemployment has its own bright side, because I could treasure every moment with my parents and relatives (you know, Italian families are quite big). I had the wonderful experience of reconnecting with my family and enjoy my Nonna’s cooking, which I tried to recreate and practice as much as I could. Needless to say that her special recipes will always be in my heart for ever.
  • Moving back to the UK. This time I discovered London from a new perspective experimenting with ethnic restaurants, discovering new recipes and hipster places, just what I needed after a long Italian winter. This rediscovery made me realise how much I love food and the industry that gravitates around it, to the point that I would like to blend in and be part of it. Even though I’m thankful to London for each life experience I had, my love-hate relationship with this city keeps going on, and I’m afraid it’s not going to last that long. It’s like when you get back with your ex and you know that after the initial happiness the old problems will rise again. In fact, here I am again in a “It’s not you, it’s me”, kind of phase and I am grateful for that, because I know that I need to look for something else in my life. Rather than something, it’s somewhere.
  • House sharing again, Thank you London rental prices! Seriously how could this be positive? You might ask, but I’m now more convinced than before of what I want for 2015. Respect is the first answer and I could go on, but anyone who has shared a property knows, for example, how hard it is to keep it clean without ending up in an argument with the other flatmates.
  • All the job interviews gone wrong. You can learn from your mistakes, they say and I’m sure to have learned something about myself and how to deal with these kind of situations. Luckily, it’s not all about me. There are lot of jerks who think they are entitled to treat applicants like trash, because they are in a position of power. I am thankful I don’t have to deal with them on daily basis.
  • Now something not about me. G. finally entered the career field he chased for a long time and I’m happy for him to have found his own path. It’s just the beginning and will be difficult but seeing the person I love being happy makes me want to work hard as well and pay him back with the same positivity he gives me every day.

I saw on Pinterest something called resolution jar and I believe it’s a nice idea to keep the positive mood throughout the year. What you have to do is just fill an empty jar with notes about all the good moments you have during the year and then, around the end of December, you can empty the jar and go through all of your notes to remember those positive moments that we tend to forget in favour of the negative ones.

Now for all of you lazy people out there (including me), this is a lovely idea but also a commitment as well, so find whatever works best for you: a notebook, a board, a calendar or just an app on your smartphone, but never stop staying positive!

I’ll try my best, you should too.


Happy New Year, guys!

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Sunday Brunch at Lantana Shoreditch: my review.

It happens every Sunday. I roll out of bed with semi closed eyes uttering weird sounds and wander in the house before realising how late it is and regretting those two hours I overslept, because the bed couldn’t let me go. The routine continues like this: usually after drinking some coffee in slow motion, I call my mum to catch up with the latest family gossip, but every time I end up getting scolded. Why? Simple, because it’s almost lunchtime and I preferred sleeping rather than waking up and do the preps for Sunday sauce, as every good Italian woman should do according to my mother’s and gran’s thought. At this point I have two options: 1) Lie and tell her that the sauce is on the stove simmering since 7 am and if I am convincing enough I also can find a quick excuse for my sleepy voice. Unfortunately I am such a bad liar, so I go straight to number 2. 2)Tell her I’m going to have brunch.

Her reply is always immediate: “Why? You’re not American.” Then it becomes melodramatic: “Hearing you’re losing your national identity makes me so sad.” Seriously, mum? I should probably take her to brunch next time she visits to try to change her mind.

After a quick search, G. and I decided for Lantana in Shoreditch, a trendy Aussie style café renowned for their excellent coffee blend and their signature drink, the flat white. I had already tried their coffee and cakes at their original location in Fitzrovia during my MA year at SOAS, and I kept going back at the time just to reward myself with quality products after classes, exams, you name it. This time it was all about brunch.

We arrived around 12:15 and we joined the long queue, because the café was packed with customers. Good sign.

The place has nice aged wood interiors without frills, in line with the trendy simple but absolutely vintage style, which is common to many independent coffee shops in London. Not really bright I would say, as the room can only benefit from two windows, so in rainy days like yesterday, the artificial light becomes necessary even at midday.

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The very kind waitress asked us if it was ok to wait 20 minutes, and of course we were more than happy to do it, but 20 minutes soon became 40 when we finally got seated. Well, it can happen when the kitchen is particularly busy and orders keep piling up, right?

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Soon another waiter came to our table and when I was about to order, he informed us that the food would have taken another 15 minutes. Fair, our order needs to be cooked and plated. Plus, what could have we possibly done after queuing 40 minutes to get a table, stand up and walk away?

Too bad that 15 minutes became 30. At this point I was very hungry and, honestly, annoyed, but our food finally came.

Smashed avocado and streaky bacon on sourdough toast with a poached egg and rocket (£7.5) for me and slow braised beans with ham hock served on corn bread with grilled chorizo, a poached egg and spinach for G (£8.5).

Well, I have to say that the kitchen staff made up for the wait with their flavourful dishes.

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A matter of perspective: the portion was bigger than it looks here.

My choice celebrated the always winning union between bacon and eggs, with a fresh note added by a creamy mellow avocado and the final bitter touch given of rocket to complete the dish. Nice, without any doubt. However, I would have seasoned the avocado with some pepper, smoked paprika and sumac just give it a spicy kick.

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Same goes for G.’s choice.

G’s order as well had a nice harmony in the combination of ingredients. In fact, the hearty beans braised in tomato sauce and ham hock gave respectively acidity and texture to contrast with the distinctive sapidity of chorizo and extremely peppery corn bread.

I give Lantana 7.5 that could have been easily transformed in a higher score, but the long waiting at the entrance and then at table was a significant source of influence. I perfectly understand that Brunch can be a busy time, but more communication and coordination of the staff could significantly improve the customers’ experience.

Lantana Shoreditch, Unit 2, 1 Oliver’s Yard ,55 City Rd. EC1Y1HQ

August favourites: 5 food smells and their reassuring memories

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I know, I know, it’s September already and I haven’t wrote a post in ages but in my defence I was so busy moving back to London that I barely had time to sleep.

So I finally found a place, but I’m not sure if I’m going to stay for a long period or looking for something else, because these two months have proved me that finding a decent place you can call home in London is just like the film Mission: Impossible.

London has changed so much during these three years I left, but its smell of curry and hot soups enhanced by a “little” pinch of glutamate, remains the same that strongly penetrates the streets during the long winters. As much as these two food smells do not really classify as my favourite ones, I have to admit I was relieved it did not change. For an emotional creature of habit like myself, it’s always overwhelming to deal with life changes, therefore in those moments I always look for something familiar to cling on to.

As Marcel Proust wrote in The Search Of The Lost Time,

When from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, still, alone, more fragile, but with more vitality, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls, ready to remind us, waiting and hoping for their moment, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unfaltering, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.

Here are my favourite food smells and the memories they are connected with:

  • Freshly baked bread – Seriously,who doesn’t love the smell of freshly baked bread? you can find bread throughout the world, and even with its differences, it remains a constant of nutrition. This is enough to make me feel at home, even when I am far away. When I was little, I always went grocery shopping with my Mum for Nonna and as I gave her the loaf of freshly bake bread we bought, she used to reward me with the first crusty slice. Crunchy and still warm. Reassuring, this is what the smell of Freshly baked bread is for me.
  • Barbecue – I have never been a carnivorous, so when I happen to smell the burning charcoal that fills the air up with smoke I don’t really think about tender juicy steaks straightaway. To me barbecue smells like the end of summer. Every Year, between August and September my big Italian family used to gather in a distant uncle’s country house for a couple of days to produce the homemade tomato passata for the whole year while us kids played outside with my uncle’s two Maremma dogs. The barbecue rewarded the all the hard work of those two days. I can still picture it in my mind: Nonna and my mother checking the last bottles while my dad prepared the fire and I was either climbing on a tree or playing with the ball. Yes, very feminine of me. 
  • Lemon cake – My mother has never been a skilled baker and even her Lemon Cake is far from being amazing (Thanks God she doesn’t read this) but just the thought of her baking this cake fills me up with joy, because the whole building where my parents’ apartment is, becomes permeated by that sweet scent. More than once I overheard neighbours saying things like “This is Lemon cake, I’m sure. Oh, I would really like a slice right now!”
  • Nonna’s Sunday pasta sauce – I know it sounds kind of cliché but this really is one of the most comforting food smells of my childhood. That meaty tomato sauce was carefully prepared from the early hours of Sunday Morning and being left simmering until lunch time, when it was thick and fragrant. That was the scent of uncountable lunches together year after year.
  • Strawberries: I remember my dad picking me up at elementary school on Saturdays, asking me to smell his hands and guess. It was his way to tell him he was coming directly from home where cut strawberries and then seasoned them with sugar and lemon juice. It was his way to treat her daughter on a Spring Saturday. I have never eaten strawberries differently, but now  and even though Dad still prepares strawberries for me once in a while, his hair have been turning grey and I I’m no longer a child with the same carefreeness.

I am really curious to know about your favourite ones, so feel free to leave a comment. In the meantime I will try as much as I can to keep you updated about my foodie adventures in London, or everywhere else.

 

And now in Italian.

Lo so, lo so, è già settembre e non scrivo un post da tempo immemore, ma a mia discolpa devo ammettere che sono stata così occupata con questo trasloco a Londra che sono stata fortunata a trovare del tempo per dormire.

Così ho finalmente trovato un posto dove stare, ma non sono sicura se rimanere per un lungo periodo o cercare di qualcos’altro, perché questi due mesi mi hanno dimostrato che trovare un posto decente, da poter chiamare casa a Londra, è come il film Missione: Impossibile.

Londra è cambiata tanto in questi tre anni in cui l’ho lasciata, ma il suo odore di curry e zuppe calde aiutate da un “piccolo” pizzico di glutammato, rimane lo stessa che riempie le strade durante i lunghi inverni inglesi. Per quanto questi due odori in realtà non compaiano nella classifica dei miei preferiti, devo ammettere che mi sono sentita sollevata del fatto che fossero sempre gli stessi. Per una persona emotiva e fortemente abitudinaria come me, è sempre travolgente a che fare con cambiamenti di vita, quindi in quei momenti cerco sempre di qualcosa di familiare per aggrapparsi a.

Come Marcel Proust scrisse in La ricerca del tempo perduto,

Ma, quando niente sussiste d’un passato antico, dopo la morte degli esseri, dopo la distruzione delle cose, soli, più tenui ma più vividi, più immateriali, più persistenti, più fedeli, l’odore e il sapore, lungo tempo ancora perdurano, come anime, a ricordare, ad attendere, a sperare, sopra la rovina di tutto il resto, portando sulla loro stilla quasi impalpabile, senza vacillare, l’immenso edificio del ricordo.”

Qui ci sono i profumi odori di cibo che adoro ed i ricordi che sono collegati ad essi:

  • Pane appena sfornato – Scherzi a parte, chi non ama l’odore del pane appena sfornato? Il pane si trova in tutto il mondo, e pure con le sue differenze, rimane una costante dell’alimentazione. Tutto questo mi fa già sentire a casa, anche quando sono lontana. Da piccola,  accompagnavo sempre mia madre a fare la spesa per Nonna, e quando le portavo il pane fresco, aveva l’abitudine di darmi con la prima fetta, la più croccante. Croccante e ancora caldo. Rassicurante, questo è ciò che rappresenta per me il profumo del pane appena sfornato.
  • Barbecue o grigliata – Non sono mai stato una carnivora, così quando mi capita di sentire l’odore del legno che brucia e che riempie l’aria di fumo, in realtà non penso subito ad una bistecca. Per me la grigliata rappresenta la fine dell’estate. Ogni anno, tra agosto e settembre la mia grande famiglia si riuniva nella casa di campagna di un lontano zio per un paio di giorni. Si doveva produrre la passata di pomodoro fatta in casa che sarebbe poi servita per cucinare durante tutto l’anno. Tutto mentre noi bambini giocavano fuori con i due maremmani dello zio. La grigliata non era altro che il premio finale per il duro lavoro dei grandi durante questi due giorni. Riesco ancora a vedere con la mia mente Nonna e mamma che controllano le ultime bottiglie mentre mio padre prepara il fuoco ed io arrampicata su un albero o a giocare con la palla. Proprio una signorina! 
  • Torta al limone – Mia madre non è mai stata una pasticciera dotata e anche la sua torta al limone è tutt’altro che sorprendente (Grazie a Dio lei non legge il mio blog), ma solo il pensiero di lei che prepara questa torta mi riempie di gioia, perché l’intero palazzo dove vivono miei genitori si riempie di quel profumo dolcissimo ogni volta. Spesso ho i vicini dire cose come “Questo è profumo di torta al limone, ne sono sicuro. Quanto vorrei una fetta proprio ora!”
  • Sugo della Domenica di Nonna – So che sembra sorta di cliché, ma questo è davvero uno dei profumi più confortanti della mia infanzia. Il sugo veniva pomodoro preparato con cura dalle prime ore di Domenica mattina e veniva lasciato sobbollire fino all’ora di pranzo, quando diventava denso e profumatissimo. Quello era il profumo di innumerevoli pranzi insieme anno dopo anno.
  • Fragole – Mi ricordo che mio padre veniva a prendermi a scuola tutti i sabati e mi chiedeva di annusare le sue mani e indovinare di cosa profumassero. Era il suo modo per dirgli che stava venendo direttamente da casa, dove mi aveva preparato le fragole con lo zucchero e succo di limone. Era il suo modo di viziare la figlia in un sabato di primavera. Non ho mai mangiato le fragole in modo diverso, e anche se papà prepara ancora le fragole per me di tanto in tanto, i suoi capelli sono diventati grigi e io non sono più la stessa bambina con la medesima spensieratezza.

Sono davvero curiosa di conoscere i vostri odori preferiti, quindi sentitevi liberi di lasciare un commento.

Nel frattempo cercherò per quanto possibile per tenervi aggiornati sulle mie avventure foodie a Londra, o in qualsiasi altra parte del mondo.

May favourites: 5 Italian food idioms that will make you smile

It’s over, my long months spent at home in Italy are coming to an end, and I will be finally moving back to London in a couple of weeks, with mixed feelings and few quids in my pocket. Right now I have too many worries that won’t leave me alone and, consequently, I rapidly find myself stuck on ideas about what to write about. I tried everything, but I still haven’t found a method to overcome creative block, because apparently nothing seems to turn my brain off, the real culprit of the self censorship I apply on my “stream of consciousness”.

While thinking about not to think I accidentally dropped a bottle of water and my mom sarcastically told me: “your hands are made of ricotta”. I laughed first, but then I thought it would be interesting to share with non-Italian speakers my favourite Italian idioms about food. Oh and by the way, hands made of ricotta is the equivalent in English of being a butterfingers.

  • “Friggere con l’acqua”, literally “frying with water”, means trying to achieve something without the necessary economic means, being stingy but still attempting at doing something that would require money. It often happened to me to be invited to dinner and compliment the host on their food and hear: “Well, thanks, we do not fry with water”, meaning they prepared everything without cutting corners.
  • “Essere come il prezzemolo”, literally “to be like parsley”, meaning to be everywhere considering that parsley is the most used herb in the kitchen. Lately this expression is often referred to “celebrities” or even better to people from reality shows who don’t have any particular skills but are constantly on television, newspapers and/or the internet.
  • “Preso con le mani nella marmellata”, literally “to be caught with the hands in the marmalade jar”, meaning to be caught doing something wrong or forbidden. This expression originated from the love that kids have for sweet food and when, back in the day, they didn’t have nutella or oreos, they used to snack on bread with marmalade, but not too much. So they were tempted to steal the marmalade and often caught with their hands in the jar, doing exactly what they were forbidden to do.
  • “Cercare il pelo nell’uovo”, literally “to look for a piece of hair inside an egg”, meaning to be a fussy, meticulous person who always looks for imperfections in every single situation. The expression comes from the impossibility of finding a piece of hair inside an egg.
  • “Gallina vecchia fa buon brodo”, literally “the old hen makes a good broth”. This idiom refers to a woman who is no longer young but has acquired wisdom over the years. Something tells that I’ll use this for myself in the future, distant distant distant future.

These are my 5 favourite Italian idioms about food, but there are many more as in any other culture, which I’m curious to know, so please leave me a comment to quench my thirst for knowledge.

Hope to get rid of creative block as soon as I can.

 

And now in Italian.

E’ quasi finita, i miei lunghi mesi passati a casa in Italia stanno arrivando al termine visto che fra qualche settimana mi trasferirò di nuovo a Londra con sentimenti contrastanti e poche sterline in tasca. In questo momento ho troppi pensieri che non mi lasciano in pace e, di conseguenza, mi ritrovo senza idee su cosa scrivere. Ho provato di tutto, ma non ho ancora trovato un metodo per superare questo blocco, perché a quanto pare nulla sembra riuscire ad azzittire il mio cervello, che poi è il vero e unico colpevole della censura che ferma il mio ” flusso di coscienza”.

Mentre pensavo a come smettere di pensare, mi è caduta una bottiglia d’acqua dalle mani e mia mamma mi ha subito detto: “hai le mani di ricotta“. A parte la risata iniziale, ho pensato che sarebbe stato interessante condividere con i lettori non italiani i miei 5 modi dire preferiti riguardo il cibo.

  • Friggere con l’ acqua: significa cercare di ottenere un risultato pur non avendo i mezzi economici necessari. Spesso mi è successo di essere invitata a cena e di complimentarmi con i padroni di casa per la bontà delle portate preparate. Quasi sempre mi è stato risposto: “Grazie, mica friggiamo con l’acqua”, cioè tutto è stato preparato come si deve.
  • Essere come il prezzemolo, cioè essere ovunque visto che il prezzemolo è l’erba aromatica più utilizzata in cucina. Ultimamente questa espressione è spesso usata per descrivere varie “celebrità” o meglio (peggio?) ancora partecipanti di vari reality show che non hanno alcuna abilità particolare, ma sono costantemente in televisione, sui giornali e / o su Internet .
  • Essere presi con le mani nella marmellata, nel senso di essere sorpresi a fare qualcosa di sbagliato o vietato. Questa espressione è nata dall’amore che i bambini hanno per i dolci e quando non c’erano le merendine, l’unico dolce che ci si poteva concedere era pane e marmellata, ma ovviamente non troppo. Quindi la tentazione più grande era quella di rubare la marmellata ma spesso si veniva colti sul fatto.
  • Cercare il pelo nell’uovo, descrive una persona meticolosa ed esigente che cerca sempre di imperfezioni in ogni situazione. L’espressione deriva dall’impossibilità di trovare un pelo nell’uovo, visto che niente potrebbe penetrare il suo guscio.
  • Gallina vecchia fa buon brodo. Questa espressione si riferisce a una donna che non è più giovane, ma ha acquisito esperienza e saggezza nel corso degli anni. Qualcosa dice che userò questo modo di dire in un lontano, lontano, lontano futuro.

Questi sono i miei cinque modi di dire preferiti sul cibo, ma ce ne sono molti di più sia in nella cultura italiana, sia nelle altre. Se ne conoscete qualcuno, lasciatemi un commento.
Spero davvero di sbloccare le mie idee prima possibile.

Sunday pastries, an Italian classic

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Memories come back unannounced, unexpectedly, leaving us amazed at how daily routine distracts us.

I was in Norwich, packing my suitcase to fly back home in Italy the next day, but I desperately needed a padlock, because some nice guy at Rome airport cut the one I had, apparently to do some security checks. Just to clarify, I wasn’t smuggling anything else than Parmigiano.

So while I was looking for a suitable padlock at the hardware store, I started talking to the owner who was happy to help someone who – you could definitely tell – was not in her usual context. He asked me where I was going to and as soon as I said I was going back home in Italy, he said: “Well then bring me back some Sunday pastries, that’s how they’re called, right?” Sunday pastries? Bam! epiphany! and I’m back to my childhood again.

Sunday pastries are all those desserts, namely pastries or monoportion cakes that are covered and/or filled with cream, custard or fruit just to name a few. These pastries are usually eaten after the Sunday lunch with the entire family and represent a childhood memory common to many Italians. Well, at least until metabolism or diabetes strikes.

I remember I couldn’t wait for the priest to pronounce the end of the Mass, so we could go straightaway to our most trusted Pasticceria (patisserie) where the ritual could get started and my senses awaken. First, as I opened the door I could smell the reassuring fragrance of sugar and vanilla, a promise of what was going to happen next. Then I used to spend a couple of minutes staring at all the types of pastries because I was fascinated by their shapes and their bright colours, as I couldn’t believe they were handmade only using simple ingredients. I didn’t give much thought at this at the time, but maybe that’s how my passion for baking started.

My mother knew I loved that moment, so she allowed me to chose and indicate to the nice lady what pastries we wanted to end the meal with: cannolo for me, millefeuille for my father, my mother’s favourite sfogliatella (shell shaped pastries filled with sweetened ricotta) and a fruit tart for Nonna.

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Without any doubt, every child like myself waited patiently the end of the lunch, to finally tear up the wrapping paper around the cardboard tray and then resume the ritual of the senses that was suspended in Pasticceria. I used to take my cannolo and then enjoy the sound of puff pastry cracking under the fork and followed by the eruption of sweetened ricotta. The actual taste of the pastry was of course excellent, but it was the whole experience that made it special.

Unfortunately, growing up and leaving home changes the daily life, so moments become memories buried in some hidden angle of our minds until someone or something makes us remember. There we are, again, older and nostalgic but with our bellies always full.

Enjoy your Sunday.

And now in Italian.

I ricordi tornano senza preavviso, inaspettatamente, e ci lasciano stupiti di quanto siamo distratti dalla routine della vita quotidiana.

Mi ricordo che ero a Norwich e stavo preparando la valigia per tornare a casa in Italia il giorno dopo. Avevo un disperato bisogno di un lucchetto, perché prima del viaggio di andata, qualche addetto alla sicurezza dell’aeroporto di Roma ha tranciato quello che avevo, apparentemente per fare alcuni controlli di sicurezza. C’è da dire, però, che non stavo contrabbando altro che del Parmigiano.

Così, mentre cercavo un lucchetto adatto alla mia valigia, ho iniziato a parlare con il proprietario della ferramenta, che era felice di darmi una mano, anche perché si vedeva che ero come un pesce fuor d’acqua. Mi ha chiesto dove stessi andando e appena gli ho risposto che sarei andata a casa in Italia, mi ha subito risposto: “Beh, allora quando torni portami le paste della domenica. Si chiamano così, giusto?” Paste della domenica? Bam! che ricordo! ed eccomi di nuovo bambina.

Non vedevo l’ora che il prete pronunciasse: “La messa è finita, andate in pace.”,per andare subito alla nostra pasticceria di fiducia, così che il rituale potesse iniziare e coinvolgere tutti i sensi. Per prima cosa, una volta aperta la porta della pasticceria già il solo profumo rassicurante di zucchero e vaniglia mi rendeva felice, perché era una promessa di ciò che stava per accadere. Poi stavo lì un paio di minuti, a fissare tutti i tipi di paste, perché ero affascinata dalle loro forme i loro colori vivaci. Non potevo credere che fossero fatte a mano utilizzando pochi semplici ingredienti. Non ci ho dato molto peso a quel tempo, ma forse è così che è nata la mia passione per la pasticceria.

Mia madre sapeva che amavo quel momento, così lei mi faceva scegliere e indicare alla simpatica pasticciera quali fossero le paste che volevo consumare con la mia famiglia: un cannolo per me, la diplomatica per mio padre, la sfogliatella per mamma, e una crostatina con crema e frutta per Nonna.

Senza alcun dubbio, ogni bambino come me attendeva pazientemente la fine del pranzo, per strappare finalmente la carta che avvolgeva il vassoio, e quindi per riprendere il rituale dei sensi che era stato sospeso dal pasto domenicale. Ricordo che prendevo il mio cannolo e mi godevo il suono della sfoglia croccante a contatto con la forchetta, seguito da un’eruzione di ricotta zuccherata. Il sapore vero e proprio della pasta era ovviamente eccellente, ma era tutta l’esperienza che rendeva speciale il momento.

Purtroppo, crescere e andare via di casa cambia la vita quotidiana, così i momenti preziosi diventano ricordi sepolti in qualche angolo nascosto della nostra mente, fino a quando qualcuno o qualcosa ci fa ricordare. E all’improvviso torniamo indietro nel tempo, ma più vecchi, più nostalgici e con la pancia sempre piena.
Buona Domenica.

“Agnello Cacio e Ova” (Lamb, Cheese and Eggs) a typical Molisan recipe for Easter

I started The Weird Frittata with the intention to talk about food and the industry that gravitates around it.This means I have deliberately chosen not to write recipes, first because there are millions of blogs that outstandingly do this already. Secondly, because I am a perfectionist and I think that I still have a lot to learn before giving directions and advices. However, I promised myself to share with my readers stories and traditions about Molise, the Italian region I come from, and this time it’s a recipe. This could be seen as a contradiction, but I actually chose to share a particular recipe not only because it’s an important part of Easter traditions in Molise, but also because the dish I’m going to talk about, is unlikely to be translated into English or even in Italian cookbooks.

The recipe takes its name from three fundamental ingredients, in fact Agnello Cacio e Ova can be translated from dialect as Lamb, Cheese and Eggs. Lamb and eggs are strong symbols of the Easter traditions, in fact Lamb represents the young generation of the flock and it is therefore associated with Jesus Christ. As for eggs, they were considered as the symbol of life since the beginning of human history, assuming the metaphorical meaning of eternal life in the Christian tradition later on. As a lucky coincidence, lamb and eggs are typical products of Molise, whose mountainous landscapes have allowed, throughout the centuries, the development of an economy largely based on agriculture and farming.

And what about cheese, you may ask. Sheep breeding in Molise was, and still is aimed at dairy production, therefore pecorino cheese is mainly used in this recipe as a traditional ingredient. However, as it often happens, each family has their own variation, so the cheese may differ according to the recipe. For example, in my Nonna’s recipe pecorino is substituted with grated Parmigiano but I assure you the final result won’t lose to the original one.

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“Agnello Cacio e Ova” 

Ingredients for 6 people:

  • 1 whole deboned and diced lamb leg
  • 10 eggs
  • the juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 300 gr of grated Parmigiano
  • 300 gr of breadcrumbs
  • white wine
  • rosemary
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

Directions:

Take a medium cake tin and sizzle the diced lamb, garlic and rosemary in olive oil. When the meat looks nice and brown, add a splash of white wine and wait for it to be evaporated. Then set aside and wait until it cools down. Take out both the rosemary and the garlic but leave the meat in the tin.

While waiting, beat the eggs with the lemon juice, Parmigiano, salt and pepper. Add the breadcrumbs little by little, so that the final mixture would result neither runny nor dry.

Pour the egg mixture over the lamb into the cake tin until the meat is covered and give it a stir.

Bake in preheated oven at 200° until the cake becomes amber coloured. At this point low the temperature to 140° and cook for another 10 minutes.

The final result has to look like a sponge cake. Or a giant, meaty frittata.

Happy Easter!

And now in Italian.

Ho iniziato a scrivere su The Weird Frittata con l’intenzione di parlare di cibo e le varie sfaccettature del mondo che gira intorno ad esso. Tutto ciò significa che ho volutamente scelto di non scrivere un blog di ricette, per due motivi: primo, perché ci sono già milioni di blog su cui trovare tutte le dritte per realizzare piatti straordinari. Poi perché, fondamentalmente, sono una perfezionista e penso di avere ancora molto da imparare prima di dare indicazioni e consigli su come preparare un determinato piatto. Tuttavia, mi sono ripromessa di condividere con i miei lettori storie e tradizioni riguardanti il Molise, la regione da cui provengo, e questa volta si tratta di una ricetta. E’ una contraddizione direte, ma in realtà ho scelto di condividere una ricetta particolare, non solo perché si tratta di un piatto fondamentale nella tradizione pasquale molisana, ma anche perché è impossibile trovare questa ricetta nei libri di cucina. E anche quelle che ci sono in rete, indicano un piatto simile, ma della tradizione abbruzzese.

La ricetta prende il nome dai suoi tre ingredienti fondamentali: agnello, formaggio e uova. L’agnello e l’uovo sono importanti simboli delle tradizioni pasquali, infatti l’agnello rappresenta la giovane generazione del gregge ed è, quindi, associato con Gesù Cristo come figlio di Dio. Per quanto riguarda le uova, esse sono considerate il simbolo della vita fin dall’inizio della storia dell’umanità, assumendo, con il passare dei secoli, il significato metaforico di vita eterna nella tradizione cristiana. Per una fortunata coincidenza, agnello e uova sono i prodotti tipici del Molise, i cui paesaggi montani hanno permesso, nel tempo, lo sviluppo di un’economia quasi interamente basata su agricoltura e allevamento.

E il formaggio? vi chiederete. L’allevamento di ovini in Molise era, ed è ancora mirato non solo alla macellazione, ma soprattutto alla produzione lattiero-casearia. Per questo motivo il formaggio pecorino viene utilizzato nella ricetta come ingrediente tradizionale del territorio.

Come spesso accade, ogni famiglia ha la sua ricetta che spesso presenta delle varianti. Per esempio, mia Nonna preferisce usare il Parmigiano al posto del pecorino, ma vi assicuro che il risultato finale non perde affatto di sapidità. Questo è ciòche accade quando si può contare su materie prime di qualità.

Agnello Cacio e Ova

Ingredienti per circa 6 persone:

  • 1 cosciotto di agnello disossato e tagliato a cubetti
  • 10 uova
  • il succo di 1 limone
  • 2 spicchi di aglio
  • 300 gr di Parmigiano grattugiato
  • 300 gr di mollica di pane finemente tritata
  • vino bianco
  • rosmarino
  • sale e pepe
  • olio d’oliva

Procedimento:

Prendete uno stampo rotondo per torte e fate soffriggere l’agnello tagliato a dadini insieme all’aglio e il rosmarino in olio d’oliva. Quando la carne si colora, aggiungete una spruzzata di vino bianco e attendete che evapori. Poi mettete da parte e aspettate che si raffreddi. Lasciate la carne nello stampo, ma non dimenticate di togliere l’aglio e il rosmarino.

Nel mentre sbattete le uova con il succo di limone, il Parmigiano, sale e pepe. Versate la mollica poco alla volta e regolate la quantità, poiché Il composto non deve risultare troppo liquido ma nemmeno troppo asciutto.

Versate il composto di uova sopra l’agnello nella tortiera fino a coprire la carne. Date una mescolata e fate cuocere in forno preriscaldato a 200 ° fino a quando la “torta” diventerà ambrata. A questo punto abbassate la temperatura a 140 ° e cuocete per altri 10 minuti.

Deve assumere l’aspetto un Pan di Spagna. O una frittata gigante.

Buona Pasqua!