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Thread: Italian Cuisine. A religious experience.

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    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    Italian Cuisine. A religious experience.

    Italian Cuisine.
    Talk to an Italian anywhere in the world and I have the view they have three things they can relate to immediately: football, the wine in their region and the local dishes they grew up on. I would like to address one aspect of the latter today, namely the diversity of their range of cooking. This in itself I is not surprising, as it has its roots going back to the 4th century BC. Italian cuisine has in fact its initial foundation in the ingredients of Etruscan, Greek and ancient Roman cuisines.

    I started researching this and found that the first generally attributed Italian food writer was Achestratus, a Greek Sicilian from Syracuse. In the 4th century BC he wrote a poem in which he said that flavors should not be masked with spices or herbs, so people can enjoy the authentic taste of dishes. He was also a big fan of fish. So at first from a culinary point of view, things were relatively simple in Italian cuisine. All this simplicity was put to an end when the Roman Empire arrived eager to party like there was no tomorrow and always searching for new culinary adventures. De re conquinaria (Roman cookbook) was published in the 1st century CE and included 470 recipes, where the spices and herbs, unwanted by the first food writer, dominated the recipes.

    Anyway I digress. What I wanted to get onto was that when enjoyably researching this subject I found that there were many dishes / ingredients that I did not have a clue on. Ok, we all know that Italian food revolves around pasta, pizza and olive oil, but see if you recognize any of the following:

    • Agnolotti.
    • Corzetti.
    • Pansoti.
    • Cappelletti.
    • Garganelli.
    • Tortelli alla lastra.
    • Strozzapretti.
    • Squacquerone.
    • Tortellini.
    • Rapini.
    • Castelmagno.
    • Agnolotti.
    • Cavalo Nero.
    • Ribollita.
    • Pasta all’matriciana.
    • Pasta arrabbiata.
    • Coda alla vaccinara.
    • Carciofi alla giudia.
    • Carne alla pizzaiola.
    • Struffoli.
    • Caviale dei poveri.
    • Friselle.
    • Arancini.
    • Pasta alla Norma.

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    MANICHAEAN MANICHAEAN's Avatar
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    This is an Italian appetizer not all that well known, but an out of body experience when tasted.

    LEEK AND PROSCIUTTO ROLLS


    INGREDIENTS:
    • 4 leeks
    • 12 slices prosciutto cotto (cooked ham)
    • 3 ˝ oz bechamel
    • 4 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
    • salt to taste
    • nutmeg to taste

    PREPARATION:

    Trim the leeks, remove the outer leaves, then slice into ˝-inch rounds.

    Cook leeks in a pot of boiling salted water for 10 minutes. Drain and dry well. Place the leeks in a bowl and stir in the béchamel and half the Parmigiano Reggiano. Flavor with a pinch of salt and grated nutmeg.

    Place a little bit of the leek mixture in the center of a slice of prosciutto, then roll it up.

    Place the prosciutto rolls in a baking dish lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake in a 300° F oven for 10 to 15 minutes.


    Apparently as an aside the Roman emperor Nero was given the nickname of “porrofago” (leek eater) for his habit of consuming large quantities of leeks in order to protect his beautiful voice.

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