August 05, 2007

Exploring Jamie's Italy...

I don't think it's any secret that sweet and sassy Ivonne over at Cream Puffs in Venice is someone I look to for inspiration. And judging by the monthly internet-explosion of flour, sugar, butter and eggs that she and Lis of La Mia Cucina have nurtured through its adolescence, I'm not the only one.

So when Ivonne spent April investigating Jamie's Italy, I eagerly tagged along. And when her soul-soothing story of his Torta di Riso evoked vivid memories of Nonna Sylvia's kitchen at Easter, I hurried to the library in search of the book.

Rural and rustic, Jamie's Italy is MY kind of Italy -- delightfully unpretentious down-home cooking celebrating the bounty of each region, and the recipes passed down through generations of its residents. Shrimp and Parsley Frittata. Sausage Carbonara. Ligurian "Silk Handkerchiefs" al Pesto. Tuscan Panzanella. Insalata Caprese. Tuna Meatballs. Bolognese Polenta & Apple Cake.

Where on this tour of my mother country would we begin? I've promised John REAL Italian home cooking for the duration of 'us' and he's been a very patient man; I've probably only come through on that commitment a dozen times in as many years. So I left the selection to him -- he would choose a recipe and I would prepare it for him.

After much deliberation he selected Pasta con Acciughe e Pomodoro -- Anchovies in Tomato Sauce with Pasta. Sicilian Poor Man's Pasta.

There's a lot of complexity in this sauce, rich with red wine, tomato puree, anchovies, raisins, garlic and pine nuts. Its heady aroma hijacked my kitchen, holding us hostage in anticipation of the final result. Sadly, with all of its promise, the plated pasta failed to deliver. Perhaps I shouldn't have substituted tagliatelle for the margherita? Or I didn't use enough anchovies? Or garlic? I'm not sure. It was good enough that we'll try it again, tweaking it until it works for us.

And as I plan to turn this culinary Festa d'Italia into a monthly event during our 13th year, I'll continue to use Jamie's Italy as an inspiration.

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Deborah said...

That book is on my "to buy" list. Sounds like a wonderful pasta!

Peabody said...

I too think this is on my must buy list. I know my husband would like me to buy it :)

Paz said...

This meal looks nice, simple and tasty. My kinda meal.