I grew up around African Americans, Polish immigrants and Middle Eastern immigrants from various countries. I had met a few Italian Americans but they did not center their conversations around their culture or its food as so many have done here in Saint Louis and other cities I have visited.
For me, the allure of Italian food was a myth. Italian cuisine was Lasagna, Minestrone Soup, Pizza and Marinara Sauce. Needless to say my exposure to Italian cuisine was limited. It would take years before I learned all Italian food was not red. Thank goodness for television and a certain red haired Italian chef.
When discussions about this project began, I was not very interested. I do not consider myself a foodie. Second, my experience with Italian food left much to be desired. Third, I enjoy cooking occasionally. I would not say it is one of my favorite activities. Honestly, I was thinking what is the big deal? My friend, Deborah, has a very persuasive nature. She immediately highlighted why this should and would be a big deal. The group experience changed my mind. I also realized it might be a fun way to move past the Italian food stereotypes. I signed up for Mondays which at the time was my least busy day of the week.
So, what have I learned?
• A cookbook with tested recipes and well written instructions does not need color photos.
• Italian dairy products are superior.
• Simple does not mean tasteless.
• Italian grown imported San Marzano tomatoes are fruits of the Gods.
• Tuna packed in Olive Oil is not oily and gross.
• Quality food ingredients are hard to find in my country and especially in the Midwest region. What should be the agricultural standard is offered to us at a premium. Thank goodness for food and wine imports.
• I’m a better cook than I thought.
I have enjoyed many of the recipes I have made. Several have made it into special categories. I look forward to exploring the rest of this cookbook.
Recipes I’m most proud of completing
Peas, Peppers and Prosciutto Sauce with Cream tossed with handmade Garganelli
Pan-Roasted Whole Boned Chicken with Beef and Parmesan Stuffing
Fried Calf’s Brains
Recipe I want to eat most often
Mushroom, Ham, and Cream Sauce with yellow and green fettuccine
Recipe I’m most proud of eating
Frittata with Pan-Fried Onions and Potatoes
Bolognese Meat Sauce
Recipe I was surprised to enjoy
Stuffed Whole Stuffed Squid Braised with Tomatoes and White Wine
Recipes so good I dream about them
Panzanella – Bread Salad
The Chimney Sweep’s Gelato
Pizza with Margherita Topping
Recipes my husband enjoyed the most
Tomatoes Stuffed with Tuna
Poached Tuna and Spinach Roll
Vitello Tonnato- Cold Sliced Veal with Tuna Sauce
Chicken Fricassee with Porcini Mushrooms, White Wine and Tomatoes
Potatoes Baked with Porcini and Fresh Cultivated Mushrooms, Riviera Style
Sweet Pastry Fritters
This is very interesting because he says he does not like tuna or mushrooms. This food challenge has expanded his palate even if he will not admit it.
Special thanks to:
Thank you to all of the Pomodori e Vino followers.
Mindy - For being the first person I did not know to post a comment. I was nervous thinking no one would show interest. That post helped me breathe a sigh of relief. Your bravo’s, rah rah’s and continued support have been greatly appreciated.
Susie L. – For being my most frequent commenter. I’m glad you took the time to show your support. Thank you.
Kim – Thank you for all the technical support. This blog would not exist without you.
Viviano’s Market – Thanks for procuring some of the ingredients I have used. My veal posts would not have been possible without you.
Beth, Deborah, Doug, Cindy, Sandi, Jan, Jerry and Palma – I really appreciate the encouragement you have provided, the safe place to vent, and laughs. Your combined culinary knowledge and travel experience is very impressive. I am very fortunate to have met each of you. I wish you many successes in the future.
Thank you for the privilege to interpret your art using my humble skills. You have forever changed how I view Italian cuisine. I noticed The Classic Italian Cook Book was originally published in 1973. I was born December of the same year. How serendipitous to make your recipes many years later with you and Victor as chaperones.
Many times through out this cooking challenge I have felt this cookbook was written just for me. The level of detail you have given on regions of Italy, food ingredients and the precision of your instructions have made cooking a very enjoyable experience. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on a culinary institute or trip abroad, I have upgraded my culinary skills from the comfort of my own kitchen. Often times with fine restaurant quality results.
Seeing our endeavor as an event worthy of your time has been a tremendous honor. Your personal stories, assistance, constructive criticism and kind words have enriched this project tremendously. The last 63 weeks have been a once in a lifetime experience I will never forget. I send a big hug to both of you.
Warmest Regards and Deepest Gratitude,