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Posts tagged ‘pasta’

Pasta Primer

Pasta secca is one of the iconic dishes in southern Italy. Here it's depicted in its most pure form.

Pasta secca is one of the iconic dishes in southern Italy. Here it’s depicted in its most pure form.

I may be stating the obvious, but pasta in southern Italy is as firmly ingrained in the culture as turkey at Thanksgiving is in the U.S. Except pasta appears every day at the Pugliese table, unlike (happily) that ubiquitous American turkey. Like polenta to northern Italians and beans to the Tuscans, dried pasta is almost iconic south of Rome. And we notice it all the more because we’re trying to wean ourselves off of our daily fix. It seems that new research has helped us understand what we probably knew all along. As a result of the proliferation of highly refined strains of wheat now used in just about every prepared, wheat-based product including pasta, we’ve learned that most commercially available dried pasta may actually be physiologically addictive. I can’t imagine a worse revelation because I am truly, deeply and irretrievably fond of pasta. Read more

La Carbonara

Roman to its core, Spaghetti alla Carbonara is full of flavor and as rich as can be.

Roman to its core, Spaghetti alla Carbonara is full of flavor and as rich as can be.

Let me start by saying that Spaghetti alla Carbonara is not a Pugliese dish. You might find it on a few restaurant menus here, but this decadent bowl of flavorsome pasta belongs irrevocably to the culinary legacy of Rome. So why am I writing about it from my kitchen in Martina Franca? Because Spaghetti alla Carbonara is the guiltiest of guilty pasta pleasures and I have a surfeit of especially fresh eggs from the country calling to me. What could be better than showcasing them in a pasta that depends upon just a few ingredients to make it sing? Read more

Anticipating Easter

Spring is devoted to orchard maintenance and pruning is the order of the day.

Spring is devoted to orchard maintenance and pruning is the order of the day.

With capricious spring weather keeping us on our toes, we are skipping through the last week of Italian Lent (Quaresima) towards Easter Sunday in Martina Franca. The signs, both sacred and profane, are everywhere. Elderly residents strolled through town yesterday toting palm leaves and olive branches on Palm Sunday mass, enormous chocolate Easter eggs compete for attention in shop windows and the fruits and vegetables we’ve craved all winter long are arriving in weekly market stalls. Read more

Apologies to Sora Lella

Tomatoes, red and yellow peppers and chicken simmer together for Pollo alla Romana.

Tomatoes, red and yellow peppers and chicken simmer together for Pollo alla Romana.

Now that carnevale is over and we are immersed in the 40 sober, reflective days of quaresima (Lent), you would think that the excess of the Pugliese table would be significantly dialed back. But you would be wrong. Yes, the delightful chiacchiere carnival sweets are officially off the menu and there is a renewed observance of meatless Friday, but the butcher shops in Martina Franca seem just as busy as ever. Still, we’re seizing the moment to engage in some Lenten deprivation of our own if we are to hold our heads high at the beach this summer. Read more

Buon Pranzo—A Tavola!

Handmade orecchiette or little ears, the beloved pasta of Puglia.

Handmade orecchiette or little ears, the beloved pasta of Puglia.

In Martina Franca, the Sunday lunch experience begins with a flurry of activity. Family members and guests gather at the appointed hour, shedding coats, hats and scarves amidst an explosion of excited greetings and dual cheek kissing. It may have been only hours since some of these people have seen one another, but skipping the customary greeting is mal educato (poorly mannered) in the extreme. It’s also essential to be on time, typically 1:00 p.m or 1:15 p.m. at the latest. Unlike many other appointments in Italy, lateness at pranzo puts the offender at risk of making a brutta figura (bad impression). After all, the latecomer is standing between all the other guests and the pasta. Read more

A Hot Pasta for a Cold Day

The best cold weather warm-up pasta I know . . . fast, easy and deeply satisfying.

The weather is changing in Martina Franca. While we’re not swimming in flood waters like the unfortunate residents of Venice, our skies are grey and the wind is whipping down our cavernous city streets, prompting a spontaneous show of woolly scarves and winter coats. There’s only one thing to do: make pasta. Read more

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