Tag: Italy

Lidia Bastianich: «The most beautiful recipes and memories of my life in Italy – Italian Cuisine

Lidia Bastianich: «The most beautiful recipes and memories of my life in Italy»

Lidia Bastianich is an Italian naturalized American chef, television personality and writer. She is not least a mother and grandmother, caring, sometimes severe, but always respectful of her Italian roots. Yes, because Lidia Bastianich’s origins are Istrian, when Istria still belonged to Italy, at least until 1975, when our country – with the controversial Treaty of Osimo – definitively and without compensation, renounced its right to those territories . We asked her for some anecdotes about her when she lived in Istria, with her parents and all her relatives, many of whom are no longer here today. But also what she brought with her, to bring those memories back to life with thought and deeds.

This important theme of mixing memories and cuisine is the fulcrum of the project The Tales of the Roots, created in collaboration with the MAECIwhich was recently presented at the Farnesina in the presence of the Ministers Tajani and Lollobrigida during the launch of the eighth edition of SCIM – Week of Italian Cuisine in the World 2023. Naturally, Lidia Bastianich could not fail to be part of this magnificent story of Italian immigration in the world, and here we are already telling you about a first taste.

Grandma Rosa and the farmyard animals

«I grew up with my grandmother Rosa in the countryside, in Pula, in Istria, among animals, among the products of the earth. I still remember the courtyard of the house and this scene: the grandparents, their brothers, the various aunts, all with aprons and handkerchiefs tied on their heads. It was them, the aunts, who at the table reminded us to never waste food, “there are children who don’t eat too much”, they said. Today Italian cuisine for me is a memory, a nostalgia, a passion, a way to receive and give love. It was, to all intents and purposes, not only a stimulus for what I have done and am doing in the United States but also a confirmation of who I am. As a child I grew up in a comfort zone, in the countryside, among the chickens, goats and rabbits that I fed. I was the “runner”, the “helper”, Grandma Rosa’s helper in the kitchen, especially on Sundays. I still remember those intoxicating smells of the sauce that boiled for hours, where the stove was, in the “blackhouse, next to the chicken coop. But also the scent of laurel, rosemary, tomato preserves, which I liked to “touch”, a little furtively, with a piece of bread.”

Farewell to Italy, without warning

«When I emigrated to the United States, in 1958, I was 12 years old, it was food that reminded me of my childhood: cooking made me feel good because it took me back to that bygone period. Once I arrived in New York I asked myself: “Why do I love cooking so much?”. I think it was instinct that made me go back to my origins: I was a child and at the time I never imagined that I would never see home againthen over time I understood it and, with regret, I thought that I hadn’t been able to say goodbye to my grandmother Rosa, my goats, my aunts… Well, with cooking I brought my land, my family, to America .

That small kitchen, but small… like that

«A tradition kept alive with passion, enthusiasm and love for four generations, even when, as soon as we arrived overseas, Caritas assigned us a small apartment with a kitchen as small as a closet. There, however, we had meals with family and friends, not without difficulty: we passed the food from hand to hand, since there wasn’t enough space. Then, as soon as I could, in reaction, I treated myself to a large Kitchen! Among the dishes we prepared most often were rice and potatoes, polenta with cheese, pan-fried cabbage and, above all, gnocchi, which even today, when I eat them, are an internal caress, they give me a “sensation” unique. A tradition that continues in New York and that I have also passed on to my grandchildren.

Around the table kneading the gnocchi

As children, my grandchildren all sat around the table kneading dough, just like my grandmother did with me; Now they are adults, they go to university, but they call me to ask for advice: “How to make the sauce, how long the broth should boil, etc.” I am very happy that they too, in addition to my children, can carry their origins with them, despite being born in America. The culture of food transcends birth, but belongs to the origins of the family. Also because there is a substantial difference between Italians and Americans, we always bring food with us. For this reason, Italian cuisine in the United States is the most appreciated, also thanks to the first Italian Americans who came here in 1800 to seek their fortune, bringing with them regional traditions. Very different from my Istrian ones, because theirs were from southern Italy. So, as an adult, I began to travel far and wide across the Bel Paese, so I discovered regional dishes and brought them to the States. This was my luck, this was my choice, this was my life.”

All crazy for pancakes (even in Italy) – Italian Cuisine

All crazy for pancakes (even in Italy)

I'm a classic of american breakfast, so much so that Donald prepares plenty for his grandchildren Qui, Quo and Qua. And they never fail even in the brunch English style. But, for some time now, it has become increasingly common to find them also in Italy: they are pancakes, the delicious pancakes that in America are served "washed down" with Maple syrup or smeared with peanut butter, but which in the Italian version can also be enjoyed in many other ways, namely with jams, sweet spreads or honey. But gourmets also love them with salmon or gorgonzola. I am over 4 million Italians who have (pleasantly) let themselves be conquered by these American pancakes, says a research conducted by Nielsen for Barilla, and over half of them enjoy them on the weekend at home, at breakfast or as a snack, and with the family.

Home made or ready-made?
The success of pancakes in Italy is confirmed byincrease in supply proposed by supermarkets and health food stores, where they are found in various versions: from those already ready, which should only be heated and stuffed, to those in the form of blend, dry or liquid, which can be cooked in a few minutes. Many, then, love to make them at home also because they are really simple. Just prepare a flour-based batter (you can use and experiment with all types of flours, from wheat, oats, spelled), eggs, milk, sugar and yeast. Once the dough is ready, pour some a spoon in a small non-stick pan (like the one used for crêpes) and cook over low heat for a couple of minutes, turning the pancakes halfway through cooking. The convenience is that the batter can be prepared on day before, stored in the refrigerator and taken out about half an hour before cooking the pancakes.

To each his own pancake
The beauty (and the good) of pancakes is that they can easily adapt to the needs of those who follow particular diets. Being made of few ingredients, all natural, they can be easily replaced in case of food intolerances or special diets. Who is it lactose intolerant can avoid milk and replace it with a vegetable drink (such as soy, rice, oat or almond), while those who struggle with cholesterol chooses those based on oats, the tastiest solution to eat the beneficial dose of anti-cholesterol beta-glucans every day. Plus, by removing the eggs, they turn into one vegan recipe. Anyone who loves alternative grains can use spelled or corn flour, while those who love Anglo-Saxon desserts can add banana puree or pineapple pieces to the mixture.

Raw pancakes
Pancakes are also accepted by many "raw food" gurus since this food philosophy also tolerates foods subjected to a light cooking (never higher than 40-42 °) and these pancakes can be cooked at a very low temperature in a dryer or, alternatively, in a semi-open ventilated oven kept at the minimum temperature. Cooked in this way, pancakes are a perfect base for strictly raw fruit, vegetables and fish.

At breakfast or as an aperitif?
Nutritionists also "promote" pancakes. Starting with breakfast, which must provide 20% of the daily calories. Objective achieved if in the morning meal you enjoy 60 g of pancakes (made with only egg whites) stuffed with 20 g of jam (or yogurt or ricotta), 30 g of dried fruit and 200 ml of unsweetened tea (or barley coffee). In addition to ensuring the right amount of energy to face the day, you arrive satiated and gratified until lunchtime. Instead the American version, the one with Maple syrup, is richer (in particular in sugars) and, therefore, should be reserved for the days when you dedicate yourself to aintense sporting activity. Unusual alternatives to crepes, pancakes can become a tasty and delicious main dish, if served with pesto or vegetable creams, tuna and diced tomatoes, or they can be served withaperitif, accompanying them with traditional blue cheeses, such as gorgonzola, and with soft and tasty cured meats, such as ciauscolo from Marche and n'duja from Calabria.

And who is on a diet?
To combine the pleasure of enjoying a rich pancake with attention to well-being, just choose how topping fresh fruit or raisins or two wisps of whipped cream. Or simply sprinkle the pancakes with a soft cloud of powdered sugar.

January 2022
Manuela Soressi

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