About Beth

Beth, along with her husband, Mike, is co-owner of two Italian Deli/Markets in St. Louis - Viviano’s Festa Italiano. When not creating yummy new menu items for the deli, she’s the pediatric research lab supervisor at Washington University School of Medicine. Read more out about Viviano’s Festa Italiano.

About Irene

Irene loves to think, read and dream about food. She enjoys cooking & eating in general. Although she demures about her talents, Irene has a finely-tuned palate that her friends envy. She bakes on occasion. The rest of the time she's creating memories with her family and friends. . . or she's learning a new needlecraft technique.

About Deborah

Deborah is a wife, mother, grandmother, traveler, bootlegger, and a very poor speller! As Victor Hazan so eloquently puts it, Deborah has chosen Umbria to be the home of her soul. When she can’t be there in body, she spends her free time cooking & reading about Italy. She blogs mostly about food and about trips – past and future – here: Old Shoes New Trip.

About Doug

Doug lives in Eastern Ontario in a farmhouse built in 1903. He is a retired teacher with four adult children, a wife, a son-in-law, two Irish step-grandchildren and one grandson who he is lucky to hang with a lot. He has way too many books. Doug also blogs at To Slow Time Down.

About Cindy

Cindy lives in Eagle River, Alaska where her freezer is always full of salmon, halibut & shrimp. Cindy participates in several regular cooking challenges. You can read more about her cooking and life in the last frontier on her blog, Baked Alaska.

About Sandi

Sandi is a true Southerner, but a traveler & Italian cook at heart. She lives in Alabama and knows more about fried green tomatoes than fricassees. Her family owned the WhistleStop Café for many years. Sandi also blogs at Whistlestop Cafe Cooking.

About Jan

Jan, a serious home cook, has owned “Essentials” since 1992. She is passionate about all things Italian, especially the cuisine & the language. Jan blogs about her travels (next trip Italy May/June of 2010) at: Keep your Feet in the Street.

About Jerry

Jerry is a food obsessed Canadian. He learned to love Italian food as a child while eating the meals prepared by his Napolitano uncle. He learned to cook Italian foods by watching his uncle cook these feasts for the family. This love of Italian food has been honed through serious personal experimentation in eating and cooking. Willing to try most anything once, Jerry isn't so sure about tripe! Jerry also blogs at Jerry's Thoughts, Musings, and Rants!

About Palma

Palma is a Marriage & Family Therapist in Palm Desert, CA. She’s an Italian-American with a passion for cooking, entertaining, & travel to Italy. She’s always planning her next culinary adventure to Italia on her blog, Palmabella's Passions

About Kim

Kim is our permanent sub and the image above gives you a good idea of the look on her face when she realized she was drafted. Kim loves to eat, drink, travel and cook - probably in that order. When she's not here, you can find her organizing and leading food, wine and beer tours in Europe as co-owner and operator of GrapeHops or blogging at What I Really Think.

« Carciofi alla Romana (Artichokes, Roman style) | Main | Tomatoes Stuffed with Shrimp »

Mushroom, Parmesan Cheese, and White Truffle Salad

Where to begin . . .

Hello. This is Jerry and today I join the ranks of the other obsessive cooks making our way through 'Essentials'.

That was poetic. Or not.

Some initial thoughts? I LOVE Marcella. I have come to appreciate how she has tried to make Italian cooking accessible to North American cooks much the same way Julia Child did French cooking. I like the way Marcella provides great advice to the North American cook so that we can experience success with the recipes . . . can't find a particular ingredient in NA - this would be a good substitute. Sure, you may not end up with the same results as if you scouraged the market in a small idyllic Italian town but you're not in Italy are you? You might wish you were but reality is that you're in a suburb of Toronto and white truffles aren't to be found.

I've cooked Italian food for yonks. Seriously, it has probably been more than 40 years since I first grabbed a spoon and a spatula and helped Uncle Romolo work up a feast for the family. Uncle Romolo may be gone but his lessons for me are not - Italian food is simple, fresh, and comforting. Take that Olive Garden (AKA Italian Food HELL)!

Marcella is a master of this minimalistic technique.

This strikes home even more when one considers that Hazan was raised during the depression and the war. Readers of history know that these were particularly challenging years for those who were living in Italy. People made do with what they could find. Food wasn't wasted. Simple pleasures were what it was all about.

This recipe is a perfect example of this. Five ingredients - mushrooms, lemon juice, parmesan cheese, olive oil. Top with some salt (I left this out) and freshly ground pepper and you're good. The recipe has white truffles as an option. I've eaten white truffles in Piemonte when they are in season. They are DIVINE. I would have loved to have added white truffles to this dish but they were not to be found.

I wrote Hazan to see about substituting black truffles instead. She promptly wrote back:

Oh, Jerry!

This definitely is not white truffle season, and even if it were you might have second thoughts about using them, considering the price they now bring. The thing about white truffles is the aroma, there is nothing else like it, and black truffles don’t come anywhere near it. If you read the headnote, it tells you to skip the truffles if they are not available (or too expensive). If you use the right olive oil (see the headnote) and a good parmigiano-reggiano the result will still be delicious.

Classic Hazan. Use fresh, local ingredients, and enjoy the joy that simplicity brings to your plate!

We had this salad for dinner tonight - it was a Good Friday treat. It was brilliant. Because there are so few ingredients you want to use the best ingredients - no cheap olive oil and crap Wisconsin parmesan cheese ('how can that even be allowed?' he wonders allowed . . .) here. Use the best ingredients that you can find and your taste buds will sing . . .


Oh Marcella, I am gonna LOVE cooking my way through your cookbook!

Comments (5)


Excellent - I love the fact that Marcella is in contact with you and supporting you all on this project. I'm tempted though to find me some truffles in the fall and revisit this one. Thanks Jerry.


I swore up and down last year that I was not going to buy yet another cookbook.

These posts have changed my mind.

Mindy Smith:

Jerry, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post. The pleasures of simple ingredients. The best. My taste buds love singing.

I agree with Amy, I will have to buy this cookbook also so I can follow along with the recipes.

thank you for doing this project!




Sounds wonderful and easy.I will join the others in buying the book so I can follow along!

Good job, Jerry! I am definitely going to make this one, even without white truffles.

I don't have the cookbook, so I am off to eBay to find a copy.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 3, 2010 1:34 AM.

The previous post in this blog was Carciofi alla Romana (Artichokes, Roman style).

The next post in this blog is Tomatoes Stuffed with Shrimp.

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