Buon Appetito

I'm heading to Italy with my husband in May for an early celebration of our wedding anniversary. There is something about the Italians' appreciation for life – a little more laid-back, more in-the-moment – that appeals to me. But don't be fooled; there's plenty of hard work in Italy, too.
That also applies to their approach to food and cooking. Rustic Italian Food, published last November and written by chef Marc Vetri, is an homage to true Italian cuisine, with its attention to fresh and local ingredients, traditionally prepared. And some patience is required.
I am not known for my patience, but when it comes to cooking, there are some things that are worth the time investment.
For example, I love to bake bread. It's one of the few things that I will slow down for. The bread chapter in this book does not disappoint, and has me planning a fun Saturday with my arms covered in flour, making Blueberry Schiacciata or Fig and Chestnut Bread.
For some reason, though, the two things I do not have any patience for at all is making pie crust (see my "recipe" here) or for making pasta. Just not gonna do it. So I will blithely skip over the chapter about making your own pasta here, ignoring the collective gasp from Italian foodies.
Instead, I'll move on to the sauce recipes that seem stunningly simple from the ingredient list, but require time to perfect. Some recipes take hours and hours to cook and complete, but they pay off in the end with plenty of flavor and depth.
Slow-cooking meats makes them tender and flavorful. Vetri includes several strong recipes here that also make the pay-off worthwhile. And he doesn't disappoint in dessert chapter, either, particularly because he includes a stellar take on rice pudding, one of my favorites.
Nothing that's worth having comes easy, whether it's a trip to Italy or a traditional ragu. You just have to pick your battles and decide what's worth working for (the perfect loaf of bread) and what isn't (boring noodle-making).

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