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Articles by: Marina Melchionda

  • Life & People

    An Italian-American Thanksgiving

    The United States is a country populated by people of all different nationalities and cultural backgrounds. No matter when they touched this soil, all of them more or less brought the symbols, beliefs, and traditions of their land of origins to their new country. 

    Today the different ethnic groups honor their religious and cultural heritage in dates established in agreement with the national government, so that everybody knows, as an example, that Saint Patrick’s Day is the Irish Holiday, Columbus Day celebrates Italian culture, Hanukah and Passover are Jewish, and Christmas and Easter are Christian.

    But there is one day that really unifies the country as a  nation. It is one single holiday that everybody, independently of their skin color and religious beliefs honors. That day is Thanksgiving Day, celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November every year. That’s the “family holiday”, and two, three, four generations of members of the family sit around a table to thank God for everything they have been given, just as the Pilgrims and the Native Indians did hundreds of years  ago to give thanks for the good harvest they had.  

    And what is the symbol of Thanksgiving? Well, the turkey of course. Everybody knows it! Dozens of dozens of millions of turkeys are stuffed on this day and become the absolute “kings” of the traditional dinner. And, guess what? That’s the ONE time that everybody follows the tradition, even us Italian-Americans. Yes, if we usually add a touch of Italianity to everything we cook in our daily life, on this day we kind of promise to become 100% American and don’t even dare to alter the traditional meal. Or at least we try not to…  

    For as much as an Italian-American tries to be a “true” American for one day only, there is

    always a drop of his blood that doesn’t follow the flow. Take my family’s case. Well, first of all, we kind of live with the nightmare that we won’t find the perfect turkey for us if we wait too long. So, let’s order it at least two, better three weeks before…Just to make sure you know…  

    But, what is the perfect turkey for a family of 8? Well of course the one that weights AT LEAST 12 pounds. But why not 21? My grandpa asks himself, his wife, and his daughter before the astonished face of a Shop Assistant over at Giant’s. As my (Polish) Grandma went for 10, and my (Italian-American) mom for 12, my grandpa finally accepted a compromise for 18. That means more than 2 pounds of meat for each one of us…. Somebody there went back home asking himself if it would have been enough…  

    So the dinner, as we said, is traditional On the menu there is a list of “MUST” dishes: string bean casserole, creamed onions, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing (two kinds, needless to say), orange and mandarin pudding, and what else? Can’t remember… Well, of course the turkey with “emergency” gravy on the side in case it comes out too dry (most probably). And, at my seat, a whole jar of honey mustard, because the gravy in this case is definitely not for me.  

    Ok, ready? Set? Go! The cooking marathon starts two days before Thanksgiving, with potatoes to peal, sauces to make, and onions and other veggies to chop. On Thanksgiving Eve, the atmosphere is a little more relaxed then the day before, because after rushing up and down you realize that you have done almost everything and after all there was no need to rush so much. It’s Wednesday and the New Yorker is coming (me).

    As an Italian-American myself, I HAD TO add something to this dinner! Could I let my family starve??? So, I focused on the dessert (of course). Pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and ice cream cake are not enough. No, no. So…here  I come with a full tray of Cannoli from what supposedly is the best Sicilian pastry shop in town, Villabate in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. You know, just in case… Of course, I become my Sicilian-Italian-American grandpa’s favorite granddaughter in a second, especially when I allowed him to take short trips to the fridge downstairs to “check if the cannolis are all right”….  

    The best thing about Thanksgiving Day is waking up in the morning with the idea of opening the turkey and stuffing it. Before doing this last process, in fact, you need to take the interiors away! And that’s another thing that my Grandpa (who worked as a butcher at a very young age) and I have in common: we look at the carcass of a turkey with an extraordinary “cold blood”, using knives, hands, and every other tool we might need to “prepare” it for the oven. And, personally, I wake up early just to do that.  

    Another typical Italian-American thing we do on Thanksgiving? Take out all the silver from the draws, use the best tablecloth, and the fanciest tea service. It doesn’t matter if you’ll have to wash and clean everything by hand after dinner and spend the rest of the day doing that. It is “the special occasion”, the once-a-year- moment in which you don’t care to keep objects you inherited from your great-grandma in cellophane bags. Using them in everyday life is equal to a sacrilege in our minds.  

    The dinner, that we took three days to prepare, is consumed within fifteen-twenty minutes. Everybody is full as a balloon, in my plate you can still see spots and splashes of mustard all around the edges. I, we, survived one of the greatest challenges of the year: having a huge meal that doesn’t include pasta. We really put ourselves into it…  

    But what happened to the 18 pounds of turkey? Well, almost more then a half is still laying

    there on the silver tray. What to do with it now?? My mind starts imagining a month of turkey sandwiches for lunch, and a hint of horror fills my soul. My grandpa must have seen it because he starts asking my mom and I if we know of any Italian dish made with turkey so that we can recycle it in other tasty recipes. But no way. Italians, wisely, do not contemplate turkey in their diet.  

    So how do we decide to solve the problem? Well, pretending again to be perfect 100% American: scheduling hours and hours of shopping for the day after. After all, it’s Black Friday and we have to keep America green! And if we get hungry? We’ll go out to eat, why not!?!?!

  • Facts & Stories

    Valentine’s Day. Instructions for Use (For Men!)

    You don’t need me to tell you that Valentine’s Day is coming along. I mean, WHEREVER we are, all we can see is heart-shaped balloons, chocolate cakes, and cafes and diners advertising their “surprise your loved one with the sweetest breakfast”. And so on…  

    Are you getting ready? Did you get your fiancé a nice gift? Are you taking her out for dinner? Will you buy her flowers? No? Well, maybe you don't need to do all of that. But you better do SOMETHING!  

    This piece is to give you a couple of advises, “instructions for use”, on how to behave and what to do on this “special day”. Don’t come and tell me that you are cool with that, ‘cause your “girlfriend does not believe in this 'consumerist--American-holiday'”, because believe me… you’ll pay the consequences of your non-celebrating. Women DO care.  

    Sometimes I hear of people that don’t even call their partner on Valentine’s Day, just to show her that “Nothing is different”, it’s a day just like the other. Well, that should mean that you love her just like yesterday and the day before that… not that you hate her, and just don’t care for 24hours!  

    Do you at least know why Feb. 14 is the "day of love"?  

    You can decide if you care or not about this day, but first you have to understand the FULL meaning of it. First of all, VALENTINE’S DAY IS NOT AN AMERICAN HOLIDAY. Celebrated almost all over the world, its origins trace back to the II century AD, Valentine being an Archbishop  who lived in a small little town in Umbria, Italy. Oh yes, Italy.  

    Valentine was a sort of revolutionary, being the only priest throughout the peninsula that accepted to marry a “mixed couple”, a Pagan and a Catholic. It was the first mixed marriage in the history of Catholicism, and Valentine celebrate it “in the name of love that overcomes all barriers” (Yes, you’re right. We do need another Valentine today).  

     When he passed away, he was proclaimed “the saint protector of love”. He is now the patron of Terni, where every year on February 14 they organize a huge festival in his honor. Couples come from other areas of Italy and abroad to get married here on this particular day, or to renovate their vows, or to promise one another “eternal love”, and receive the blessing of the Archbishop of Terni, the town of St. Valentine.  

    Now that you know the story… don’t you look at this holiday from a different point of view?!  

    Well, if you do (and if you still don’t) here are some tips to surprise (and please) your partner (she is ALWAYS expecting something).  

    “Little things mean a lot”, said a popular song written by Edith Lindeman and Carl Stutz, published in 1953. So, don’t worry if you can’t buy her diamonds and pearls… it is not what she is looking for (in most cases…). If you want it to remain the holiday of love, and not the one of consumerism, you can make her just the happiest person of the world with very small "attentions". Do you live together? Cuddle her with breakfast in bed. Squeeze your own oranges, don’t open the can. Arrange the sweets and fruit in an elegant manner; don’t just throw them on the tray… you are not playing baseball!  

    It’s not necessary to buy a gift or a full bouquet of red roses. What for? Most probably they are not even their favorite flowers! Women prefer much more a “customized present”. My favorite flower, as an example, is the daisy. Don’t you think they are the friendliest flowers ever? A single daisy picked up just for me would make me much happier than 2 dozens red roses.  

    The same for Valentine’s Day cards. Don’t look for a romantic quote on the web; don’t go to Hallmark to pick up the first American Greetings card you find. Just sit down and write something yourself. You don’t need to promise eternal love (don’t cheat!), just write what you feel you want to tell her (after all if you are going out with her, and you’re sharing a piece of your life, you should have enough to write about…).  

    Chocolates? Yes, it could be a good idea…if they are her favorite sweeties… Otherwise pick what she likes! Hershey’s doesn’t own the holiday!  

    You can’t afford to take her to the movies, or out for dinner? Well, that’s perfectly understandable given the harsh economic times… of course she wouldn’t (shouldn’t) ask you to donate blood or to sell your wristwatch to get the money! If you can’t afford it, however, it doesn’t mean that you just can stay home with the excuse of “too much traffic on the road; it will take forever to get to your place” (it did happen to me once, and I was going to throw away the home-baked chocolate ganache cake I had made for the idiot, before my sister saved it!); or that you can go with your pals to watch the soccer/football/baseball/whatever game in a bar (not going is certainly one of the best ways you can show her your love!!!). So, rent your favorite movie, go to her place, and prepare her favorite dinner… that’s something that has no price.  

    In conclusion, this is my message to you, my friend: whether you’re rich or poor; you’re married or not; you’re romantic or naturally rude as a brown bear, Valentine’s Day is your moment to do something special, something “customized” to your feelings and to the special woman you have on your side.  

    And if you want to keep spoiling her on Feb. 15, go for it! It might take some time to oil the gear, but you know…. practice makes perfect! (you are not already)

  • Dining in & out: Articles & Reviews

    My Easter Week in Naples

    Easter is a great moment to re-discover old traditions. They often are a little weird, sometimes somehow magic... but, as for everything in Naples, they are full of symbolism and...recipes!!!

    According to the Church, Easter is the most important festivity for a Christian. If at Christimas we celebrate the birth of the Messiah, on Easter we commemorate his death and Resurrection. The point is that if he hadn't risen again, we wouldn't be Christians.

    So, how to celebrate this special moment of the year? Church, masses, and adorations of course are not enough for Southern Italy people, like my family on the Italian side is. We follow a full range of traditions that bring us to the stove and to the table starting from Holy Thursday.

    The feast of Maundy (or Holy) Thursday solemnly commemorates the institution of the Eucharist and is the oldest of the observances peculiar to Holy Week. If Holy Thursday was taken up with a succession of ceremonies of a joyful character (the baptism of neophytes, the reconciliation of penitents, the consecration of the holy oils, the washing of the feet, and commemoration of the Blessed Eucharist), in Naples it is characterized by the grande mangiata di zuppa di cozze: every member of the family seets before a full bowl of mussels and dry bread called fresella.

    This is the way they get themselves ready to the Good Friday's fasting...

    Looking at the face of a Neapolitan on Good Friday is an experience you can never forget. The suffering and pain from hanger mould his features; his mouth is shaped in a grimace; his hair are more uncombed than usual... He is pail, his eyes are livid, his nose red... he looks like he has not eaten for more than a year.

    After a whole day of penitence, Neapolitans generally decide that they can’t take it anymore: if they really can’t eat food, at least they want the consolation of staring at it; playing with it; working on it.

    So here thy go: they open the fridge, start the stove, and get ready to begin the long culinary process that leads to the final result of PASTIERA, the traditional local Easter cake.

    There are different stories about the origins of the Pastiera Napoletana. Some people say that this cake (or maybe I should call it "pie") derives from the pagan spring ritual of the eggs, long before the birth of Christ. Another story tells of how this pie was part of the ritual breads widely used during the period of Constantine by the Christians hidden in the catacombs.

    But the most probable is the one about some nuns in a monastery, San Gregorio Armeno, Naples. They desired to create a dish that represented the resurrection of Christ. To the white ricotta, symbolizing purity, they added wheat grains that buried in the earth grow in the coming season; the eggs, a symbol of new life; and finally the extract of wild flowers that represents the perfume of spring.

    Sometimes preparing this cake becomes an experience for the entire family, from the cooking of the grain to the preparation of the yellow cream made of eggs, milk, flour, and vanilla and orange scent. The rolling out of the dough and the stuffing process requires a lot of attention and care, because the Pastiera doesn’t rise in the oven, it doesn’t change shape. So, if it comes out ugly IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT! And since it takes more than 2 hours, about 14 eggs, and more than a pounds of grain to make ONE CAKE, you really want to beat the other women of the group, and make the most beautiful cake…IT’S A QUESTION OF HONOR!
    Going to bed with the Pastiera’s aroma in your nose and mind after a full day of starving is really a challenge, a penitence. But Holy Saturday is coming up, and with it… the CASATIELLO
    Casatiello is full of symbolism both religious and cultural. The dough is rolled around salami and cheeses while laces of bread embrace whole eggs. The salami represents an antique pagan ritual where pigs were sacrificed in exchange for fertility of women and the land. Pecorino cheese represents the milk of the lamb or the innocence of Christ.
    Tradition wants that people, friends, families, get together on Holy Saturday to have a meal consisting of just three elements (consumed in enormous quantities!): casatiello, fava beans, and red wine. 
    Casatiello is something VERY hard to make. If you don’t use good lard for the dough, you don’t cook it properly, or put too much salt and pepper, all you’ll come up with is a hard salty indigestible piece of stone. So, if you’re not sure about your Neapolitan culinary skills, don’t even dare to start the oven and intoxicate your guests! (I am saying this because there are people egoist enough that still do it)
    Those who are lucky enough to own a countryside villa or a beach house generally invite their friends to join them there. Their brick oven will better serve the purpose of making the “perfect casatiello”, and the terrace/garden will allow everybody to spend sometime in the fresh air, play, and get visibly drunk with that strong homemade wine…

    Casatiello is also part of the AT-LEAST-FIVE-COURSES  big (huge) Easter lunch consumed the day after. The Italian Moto “Natale con I tuoi, e Pasqua con chi vuoi” (Christmas with the family, Easter with whoever you like to spend it with) doesn’t apply to the Neapolitan way to live this holiday. Some do live for short trips, but most of the people stay at home with the family (at least 15 people between cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and so on).

    After mass they go home where most probably the poor “mistress” of the household has already spent 5 hours cooking and cleaning… while most of us just sit and relax.
     

    The huge “abboffata” (the binge) is preceded by two rituals: the exchange of the Easter Chocolate Eggs, symbol of new birth (and greediness); and the blessing of the table with the Olive branches (collected at church on Palm Sunday) and the Blessed Water ( that the Church gives to the faithfuls on Easter Sunday).
    The sacred and the profane are always mixed together as you can see...

    The role that most of the families follow when organizing the Easter Lunch is the following: have everything you couldn’t eat during Lent, plus the traditional symbolic dishes that is “mandatory” to have on Easter.

    In a few words, here is an example of what people dare to eat in one only meal:
     Appetizer:
    Ricotta Salata (Salty Ricotta); Capicollo; Prosciutto; Mozzarella; Mixed Vegetables in Oil; Casatiello
    First Course:
    Pasta Primavera: Pasta with artichokes, fava beans, zucchini, and (sometimes) other fresh seasonal vaggies; Or Lasagna; Or Cannelloni; 
     

    Second Course:
    Lamb with Potatoes (being the lamb a symbol of new birth and innocence, this is the most symbolic and traditional part of the meal)
    2° Second Course:
    Grilled Stuffed Scamorza Cheese with Salad
     Fennels TO “CLEAN” THE MOUTH:
    Dessert:
    Fruit Salad; Pastiera ; Colomba ( A Traditional white cake with candied fruits and raisins covered with an almond and sugar crust); Chocolate Easter Eggs
     
    Are you there or did you faint already??
    Wake up! I am not finished yet!
    While in America everybody is back to work on Monday, in Italy they have another holiday called “Lunedi in Albis” (Monday in White), or LittleEaster.
    On that day, people organize the first picnic of the year, and head to the most beautiful locations of the area, including Sorrento, Amalfi, and Ravello. Those who like the countryside or the mountains choose Caserta or move a little bit northern to Terni, where the famous waterfalls are.
    Needless to say that those who get ready for long walks and some sport, also make sure that they have their baskets full of goodies.
    Organizing a picnic with Neapolitan friends is never easy. Each one of the participants make sure he brings only the best of the best of the leftovers from the Easter Lunch: he has to show that his mom, or himself, cooks better than any other in the group.
    There is only one dish that is made purposely for the occasion: the PIZZA DI MACCHERONI, two layers of spaghetti baked in the oven with mozzarella and ham. 
     

    So, it’s a feast again, and the enormous amount of food consumed actually prevents everybody to move a finger for at least a couple of hours after the banquet. Scenes of people laid down under a tree, with a hand on the stomach and the other of the forefront, are extremely common.
    The sunset reminds everybody that it is time to go home and jump in bed... a good rest from eating before going back to work the day after…
    Of course, a good work day starts from a good breakfast… and if that involves some leftover pastiera or colomba, what else could a genuinely Neapolitan fellow ask for??

  • Life & People

    Watch Out: the Befana is Coming!


    While I am writing now, most Italian kids are sleeping and waiting for the “Befana” (Witch) to come and fill their “stockings” with lots of goodies and sweets. They can’t stay awake, no…otherwise she would spank them with her broom! They are all excited because most of the times she brings them what they asked for but didn’t get from Santa Claus! You can see that in their minds this isn’t just the day that celebrates the visit of the Three Wise Men to baby Jesus; it is basically the night when this old lady lands on their roofs with her “scarpe tutte rotte e il vestito a trullalà” (broken shoes and cobbled dress), as an Italian rigmarole says!

    The legend of the Befana is very  old: even if she is not cited in the Gospel, popular  tradition has preserved her as a protagonist of this Christian holiday.  The legend recounts that the Three Kings from the East, who were following the star to visit Jesus in Bethlehem, got lost and decided to ask for directions. They stopped by a small house and knocked at the door. A very tiny, old woman answered but she wasn’t able to give them any information because she didn’t know anything about “a newborn King”! The kings invited her to go with them, but the good lady refused because “she had too much to do at home”. However, she understood pretty quickly that she had made a huge mistake and she started her own journey. But she couldn’t find Jesus... so guess what she did... she gave a gift to every single child she found on her way, hoping that he was the Messiah.  The legend says that from that time on she never stopped searching. So, every year, on the 6th of January, she takes her broom and travels the world looking for Jesus. She stops in every house and leaves small gifts for the good kids, while the bad kids receive a whole bunch of coal!
    Nowadays, actually, children are not the only “recipients”. Grownups of every age, in fact, leave an empty stocking (or a sock!) at the foot of their bed or, maybe, by the fireplace and hope to find it full the next day! My parents did it too before going to bed and I just finished stuffing their small stockings with their favorite sweets…and of course some sugary coal: it is sweet on the tongue but still sends a message!
     Let’s say this is the occasion us kids are waiting for: when we were small we got so much coal we could light a fire to last the whole winter! And dare we mention the rest? A whole half of our stocking was filled with potatos, garlic, onions…Plat du jour? Soup! That wasn’t exactly the kind of treat we were expecting..  The bigger our stockings were, the worst we had been… The “winner”, in that case, was always my little sister… what a consolation!
    But once the ingredients for the stew were collected, nothing could stop us from devouring  our favorite goodies…all of kinds of creamy, sugary snacks… we became “chocoholics” in no time, three small Willy Wonkas in their chocolate dream factory. Those were the moments when the Befana was loved just as every single woman yearns to be loved, if even for a second of her life: immensely. With no restraints.
    Those were some moments! I remember that my sisters and I sort of locked up our stockings: they were our treasures, we could share a toy but not a box of lollypops! I must confess that we are still that way: we grow up, yes, but our bellies do too!
    My family has followed this Italian tradition for decades and several generations. Two years ago, when we were in America for Christmas, we also passed it on to our small American cousins, Joey and Jimmy. And that was when I discovered that the Befana can easily be loved worldwide! You should have seen how those two kids appreciated her coming! I think that all Italian-American families should know what this tradition is all about… at least, and most importantly, it’s a means for parents and children to spend joyful moments together…
    Well…I’d better go to bed too… who knows, the Befana could also come for me…and if she finds me awake she could go away…and I just wouldn’t bear it!
    Good bellyful and Happy Epifania to everybody!

  • Dining in & out: Articles & Reviews

    An Italian-American Thanksgiving

    The United States is a country populated by people of all different nationalities and cultural backgrounds. No matter when they touched this soil, all of them more or less brought the symbols, beliefs, and traditions of their land of origins to their new country. Today the different ethnical groups honor their religious and cultural heritage in dates established in agreement with the national government, so that everybody knows, as an example, that Saint Patrick’s Day is the Irish Holiday, Columbus Day celebrates Italian culture, Hanukah and Passover are Jewish, and Christmas and Easter are Christian.

    But there is one day that really unifies the country as a  nation. It is one single holiday that everybody, independently of their skin color and religious beliefs honors. That day is Thanksgiving Day, celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November every year. That’s the “family holiday”, and two, three, four generations of members of the family sit around a table to thank God for everything they have been given, just as the Pilgrims and the Native Indians did hundreds of years  ago to give thanks for the good harvest they had.

    And what is the symbol of Thanksgiving? Well, the turkey of course. Everybody knows it! Dozens of dozens of millions of turkeys are stuffed on this day and become the absolute “kings” of the traditional dinner. And, guess what? That’s the ONE time that everybody follows the tradition, even us Italian-Americans. Yes, if we usually add a touch of Italianity to everything we cook in our daily life, on this day we kind of promise to become 100% American and don’t even dare to alter the traditional meal. Or at least we try not to…
     

    For as much as an Italian-American tries to be a “true” American for one day only, there is always a drop of his blood that doesn’t follow the flow. Take my family’s case. Well, first of all, we kind of live with the nightmare that we won’t find the perfect turkey for us if we wait too long. So, let’s order it at least two, better three weeks before…Just to make sure you know…

     

    But, what is the perfect turkey for a family of 8? Well of course the one that weights AT LEAST 12 pounds. But why not 21? My grandpa asks himself, his wife, and his daughter before the astonished face of a Shop Assistant over at Giant’s. As my (Polish) Grandma went for 10, and my (Italian-American) mom for 12, my grandpa finally accepted a compromise for 18. That means more than 2 pounds of meat for each one of us…. Somebody there went back home asking himself if it would have been enough…
     

    So the dinner, as we said, is traditional On the menu there is a list of “MUST” dishes: string bean casserole, creamed onions, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing (two kinds, needless to say), orange and mandarin pudding, and what else? Can’t remember… Well, of course the turkey with “emergency” gravy on the side in case it comes out too dry (most probably). And, at my seat, a whole jar of honey mustard, because the gravy in this case is definitely not for me.
     

    Ok, ready? Set? Go! The cooking marathon starts two days before Thanksgiving, with potatoes to peal, sauces to make, and onions and other veggies to chop. On Thanksgiving Eve, the atmosphere is a little more relaxed then the day before, because after rushing up and down you realize that you have done almost everything and after all there was no need to rush so much. It’s Wednesday and the New Yorker is coming (me).

    As an Italian-American myself, I HAD TO add something to this dinner! Could I let my family starve??? So, I focused on the dessert (of course). Pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and ice cream cake are not enough. No, no. So…here  I come with a full tray of Cannoli from what supposedly is the best Sicilian pastry shop in town, Villabate in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. You know, just in case… Of course, I become my Sicilian-Italian-American grandpa’s favorite granddaughter in a second, especially when I allowed him to take short trips to the fridge downstairs to “check if the cannolis are all right”….
     

    The best thing about Thanksgiving Day is waking up in the morning with the idea of opening the turkey and stuffing it. Before doing this last process, in fact, you need to take the interiors away! And that’s another thing that my Grandpa (who worked as a butcher at a very young age) and I have in common: we look at the carcass of a turkey with an extraordinary “cold blood”, using knives, hands, and every other tool we might need to “prepare” it for the oven. And, personally, I wake up early just to do that.
     

    Another typical Italian-American thing we do on Thanksgiving? Take out all the silver from the draws, use the best tablecloth, and the fanciest tea service. It doesn’t matter if you’ll have to wash and clean everything by hand after dinner and spend the rest of the day doing that. It is “the special occasion”, the once-a-year- moment in which you don’t care to keep objects you inherited from your great-grandma in cellophane bags. Using them in everyday life is equal to a sacrilege in our minds.
     

    The dinner, that we took three days to prepare, is consumed within fifteen-twenty minutes. Everybody is full as a balloon, in my plate you can still see spots and splashes of mustard all around the edges. I, we, survived one of the greatest challenges of the year: having a huge meal that doesn’t include pasta. We really put ourselves into it…
     

    But what happened to the 18 pounds of turkey? Well, almost more then a half is still laying

    there on the silver tray. What to do with it now?? My mind starts imagining a month of turkey sandwiches for lunch, and a hint of horror fills my soul. My grandpa must have seen it because he starts asking my mom and I if we know of any Italian dish made with turkey so that we can recycle it in other tasty recipes. But no way. Italians, wisely, do not contemplate turkey in their diet.
     

    So how do we decide to solve the problem? Well, pretending again to be perfect 100% American: scheduling hours and hours of shopping for the day after. After all, it’s Black Friday and we have to keep America green! And if we get hungry? We’ll go out to eat, why not!?!?!

  • Arte e Cultura

    Nino e i 3 doni magici. Il folklore italiano sull'AppStore

    Ricordate le storie di una volta, quelle che ci raccontava il nonno di inverno davanti al camino, quelle che ci facevano brillare gli occhi, quelle che ci insegnavano a sognare tenendoci svegli la notte?

    Quante volte avreste voluto fermare il tempo, chiedere di riascoltare, per ricordare ogni parola, passaggio, e fotografare nella vostra mente quelle atmosfere, quelle sensazioni che temete non torneranno più?

    CappuccinoApps ha pensato a voi, che avete voglia di vivere e far rivivere ai vostri figli e nipoti la magia di questi racconti, in un coraggioso tentativo di voler ridar vita alle nostre radici e alle tradizioni del nostro paese. L'ha fatto declinando il passaparola generazionale in formato digitale: da pochi giorni è disponibile sull'AppStore "Nino e i 3 doni magici", il primo di una serie di racconti tratti dal folklore e dalle tradizioni delle nostre terre, uno storybook animato in grado di ricordare ai genitori e far conoscere ai più piccoli i valori, le tradizioni, e le radici culturali del nostro paese.

    Il protagonista del racconto, Nino, va via di casa dopo l'ennesimo rimprovero della mamma, armato di un fazzoletto in cui raccoglie tutte le sue cose, di una salopette consumata, e di un viso dispettoso, sorridente, e lentigginoso. Nel suo peregrinare incontra un orco molto saggio, che con l'aiuto di tre doni magici - un cucchiaio di legno, una tovaglietta, e un asinello - gli insegna a diventare un bambino buono fino al ritorno a  casa dalla mamma, ma non prima di aver affrontato una serie di divertenti e colorate avventure.

    Classificata sull'AppStore sotto le categorie "Education" e "Books", l'applicazione ha il doppio scopo di intrattenere e far divertire i bambini, e di fungere da strumento educativo per l'apprendimento della lingua italiana e inglese per i piccoli lettori di tutto il mondo. Disponibile infatti in doppia lingua, e pubblicata in tutti i Paesi, l'applicazione è arricchita di una serie di strumenti interattivi che permetteranno ai bambini di approfondire il loro vocabolario attraverso la visualizzazione delle parole chiave ed esercitare la fonetica ascoltando il racconto letto da attori madrelingua. Il racconto potrà poi essere fermato e ripreso facilmente attraverso la funzione "bookmark" agevolando l'apprendimento e la comprensione dei passaggi chiave della storia.

    "Il nostro è quasi un lavoro artigianale, abbiamo prestato attenzione ad ogni piccolo dettaglio, dalla struttura del racconto, alle musiche, alla navigazione facile ed intuitiva, adatta al target a cui ci riferiamo", ha spiegato il fondatore di CappuccinoApps Omar Ferreri. "Il team ha lavorato sulle animazioni con passione, iniziando dagli sketch a matita, lavorando su ogni più piccolo particolare, colorandoli prima e poi animandoli usando i software più all'avanguardia, trasformando la nostra idea in un perfetto connubio tra tradizione, innovazione e creatività".

    "Nino e i 3 doni magici" è solo la prima delle applicazioni che CappuccinoApps pubblicherà sull'AppStore. "Stiamo già lavorando ad una seconda storia, il protagonista sarà ancora Nino, e lo accompagneremo stavolta nel suo incontro con un potente mago. La data di pubblicazione è prevista per Aprile 2014, ed entro l'anno chiuderemo la trilogia. Continueremo poi su questo filone, mantenendo sempre l'obiettivo originale, raccogliere storie della tradizione popolare dal mondo e renderle accessibili a tutti, attraverso lo strumento più universale, il digitale", ha continuato Omar Ferreri.

    "Nino e i 3 doni magici" è disponibile per iPhone, iPad ed iPad mini sull'AppStore dal 1 dicembre e sarà in promozione gratuita fino all'11 Dicembre.

  • Life & People

    Nino and the 3 Magic Gifts. A Traditional Italian Tale on the AppStore

    As you may be aware, 2013 is the year of Italian Culture. CappuccinoApps has decided to celebrate by releasing its first application on the AppStore, “Nino and the 3 magic gifts”, a homage to Italian cultural tradition and folklore. The original story was passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth. It is now the first time that it has been “translated” into a digital storybook with original animations and interactive features, in a valuable effort to bring Italian cultural roots “back to life” in these chaotic modern times.

    The main character of the story is Nino, a little Italian boy who runs away from home after being told off by his mother. Collecting all his things in a large napkin, he sets off on his journey, in his little dungarees and with his pesky, smiley, freckled face.  On his travels he meets a very wise ogre who, with the help of three magic gifts – a wooden spoon, a cloth and a donkey – teaches Nino to become a good boy. Nino will finally return home to his mother, but not before having lived a number of colourful and fun adventures.
      .

    Released on the AppStore in early December under the "Education" and "Books" categories, the end goal for this application is to entertain and amuse children of all ages and nationalities, while introducing them to the Italian language and culture. It’s available in 2 languages – English and Italian – and enriched with a number of interactive features that will allow kids to enhance their vocabulary through the graphic visualization of keywords. It also builds on their phonetic skills with the story read by a mother tongue professional actor. Users will also be able to catch up where they left off - restarting the tale at their convenience using the "bookmark" function, which allows them to absorb and digest the best moments of the story over time.
     

    "Ours is almost an artisanal work. We have curated every single detail, from the structure of the story, to the soundtracks, and the agile and intuitive user experience which is specifically tailored to our young audience”, explained Omar Ferreri, founder at CappuccinoApps. "Our passionate team has worked on the animations from the initial pencil sketches, that were first coloured and then fully animated. We have used the most advanced software, transforming our ideas into the perfect combination of tradition, innovation and creativity”.
     

    "Nino and the 3 magic gifts" is only the first of a number of applications that CappuccinoApps is planning to publish on the AppStore. "We are already working on the second tale: the main character will be Nino again, but this time we will see him encounter a very powerful wizard. We are planning to release it in April 2014, and will close the trilogy within the year.”
     

    “We are planning to continue along these lines in the future: our goal is to collect traditional folk stories from all over the world and make them digital, so that they’re universally accessible”, concluded Omar Ferreri.
     

    "Nino and the 3 magic gifts" is available for iPhone, iPad and iPad mini on the AppStore.

  • Dining in & out: Articles & Reviews

    A Neapolitan Easter

    Easter is a great moment to re-discover old traditions. They often are a little weird, sometimes somehow magic... but, as for everything in Naples, they are full of symbolism and...recipes!!!

    According to the Church, Easter is the most important festivity for a Christian. If at Christimas we celebrate the birth of the Messiah, on Easter we commemorate his death and Resurrection. The point is that if he hadn't risen again, we wouldn't be Christians.

    So, how to celebrate this special moment of the year? Church, masses, and adorations of course are not enough for Southern Italy people, like my family on the Italian side is. We follow a full range of traditions that bring us to the stove and to the table starting from Holy Thursday.

    The feast of Maundy (or Holy) Thursday solemnly commemorates the institution of the Eucharist and is the oldest of the observances peculiar to Holy Week. If Holy Thursday was taken up with a succession of ceremonies of a joyful character (the baptism of neophytes, the reconciliation of penitents, the consecration of the holy oils, the washing of the feet, and commemoration of the Blessed Eucharist), in Naples it is characterized by the grande mangiata di zuppa di cozze: every member of the family seets before a full bowl of mussels and dry bread called fresella.

    This is the way they get themselves ready to the Good Friday's fasting...

    Looking at the face of a Neapolitan on Good Friday is an experience you can never forget. The suffering and pain from hanger mould his features; his mouth is shaped in a grimace; his hair are more uncombed than usual... He is pail, his eyes are livid, his nose red... he looks like he has not eaten for more than a year.

    After a whole day of penitence, Neapolitans generally decide that they can’t take it anymore: if they really can’t eat food, at least they want the consolation of staring at it; playing with it; working on it.

    So here thy go: they open the fridge, start the stove, and get ready to begin the long culinary process that leads to the final result of PASTIERA, the traditional local Easter cake.

    There are different stories about the origins of the Pastiera Napoletana. Some people say that this cake (or maybe I should call it "pie") derives from the pagan spring ritual of the eggs, long before the birth of Christ. Another story tells of how this pie was part of the ritual breads widely used during the period of Constantine by the Christians hidden in the catacombs.

    But the most probable is the one about some nuns in a monastery, San Gregorio Armeno, Naples. They desired to create a dish that represented the resurrection of Christ. To the white ricotta, symbolizing purity, they added wheat grains that buried in the earth grow in the coming season; the eggs, a symbol of new life; and finally the extract of wild flowers that represents the perfume of spring.

    Sometimes preparing this cake becomes an experience for the entire family, from the cooking of the grain to the preparation of the yellow cream made of eggs, milk, flour, and vanilla and orange scent. The rolling out of the dough and the stuffing process requires a lot of attention and care, because the Pastiera doesn’t rise in the oven, it doesn’t change shape. So, if it comes out ugly IT’S ALL YOUR FAULT! And since it takes more than 2 hours, about 14 eggs, and more than a pounds of grain to make ONE CAKE, you really want to beat the other women of the group, and make the most beautiful cake…IT’S A QUESTION OF HONOR!
    Going to bed with the Pastiera’s aroma in your nose and mind after a full day of starving is really a challenge, a penitence. But Holy Saturday is coming up, and with it… the CASATIELLO
    Casatiello is full of symbolism both religious and cultural. The dough is rolled around salami and cheeses while laces of bread embrace whole eggs. The salami represents an antique pagan ritual where pigs were sacrificed in exchange for fertility of women and the land. Pecorino cheese represents the milk of the lamb or the innocence of Christ.
    Tradition wants that people, friends, families, get together on Holy Saturday to have a meal consisting of just three elements (consumed in enormous quantities!): casatiello, fava beans, and red wine. 
    Casatiello is something VERY hard to make. If you don’t use good lard for the dough, you don’t cook it properly, or put too much salt and pepper, all you’ll come up with is a hard salty indigestible piece of stone. So, if you’re not sure about your Neapolitan culinary skills, don’t even dare to start the oven and intoxicate your guests! (I am saying this because there are people egoist enough that still do it)
    Those who are lucky enough to own a countryside villa or a beach house generally invite their friends to join them there. Their brick oven will better serve the purpose of making the “perfect casatiello”, and the terrace/garden will allow everybody to spend sometime in the fresh air, play, and get visibly drunk with that strong homemade wine…

    Casatiello is also part of the AT-LEAST-FIVE-COURSES  big (huge) Easter lunch consumed the day after. The Italian Moto “Natale con I tuoi, e Pasqua con chi vuoi” (Christmas with the family, Easter with whoever you like to spend it with) doesn’t apply to the Neapolitan way to live this holiday. Some do live for short trips, but most of the people stay at home with the family (at least 15 people between cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, and so on).

    After mass they go home where most probably the poor “mistress” of the household has already spent 5 hours cooking and cleaning… while most of us just sit and relax.
     

    The huge “abboffata” (the binge) is preceded by two rituals: the exchange of the Easter Chocolate Eggs, symbol of new birth (and greediness); and the blessing of the table with the Olive branches (collected at church on Palm Sunday) and the Blessed Water ( that the Church gives to the faithfuls on Easter Sunday).
    The sacred and the profane are always mixed together as you can see...

    The role that most of the families follow when organizing the Easter Lunch is the following: have everything you couldn’t eat during Lent, plus the traditional symbolic dishes that is “mandatory” to have on Easter.

    In a few words, here is an example of what people dare to eat in one only meal:
     Appetizer:
    Ricotta Salata (Salty Ricotta); Capicollo; Prosciutto; Mozzarella; Mixed Vegetables in Oil; Casatiello
    First Course:
    Pasta Primavera: Pasta with artichokes, fava beans, zucchini, and (sometimes) other fresh seasonal vaggies; Or Lasagna; Or Cannelloni; 
     

    Second Course:
    Lamb with Potatoes (being the lamb a symbol of new birth and innocence, this is the most symbolic and traditional part of the meal)
    2° Second Course:
    Grilled Stuffed Scamorza Cheese with Salad
     Fennels TO “CLEAN” THE MOUTH:
    Dessert:
    Fruit Salad; Pastiera ; Colomba ( A Traditional white cake with candied fruits and raisins covered with an almond and sugar crust); Chocolate Easter Eggs
     
    Are you there or did you faint already??
    Wake up! I am not finished yet!
    While in America everybody is back to work on Monday, in Italy they have another holiday called “Lunedi in Albis” (Monday in White), or LittleEaster.
    On that day, people organize the first picnic of the year, and head to the most beautiful locations of the area, including Sorrento, Amalfi, and Ravello. Those who like the countryside or the mountains choose Caserta or move a little bit northern to Terni, where the famous waterfalls are.
    Needless to say that those who get ready for long walks and some sport, also make sure that they have their baskets full of goodies.
    Organizing a picnic with Neapolitan friends is never easy. Each one of the participants make sure he brings only the best of the best of the leftovers from the Easter Lunch: he has to show that his mom, or himself, cooks better than any other in the group.
    There is only one dish that is made purposely for the occasion: the PIZZA DI MACCHERONI, two layers of spaghetti baked in the oven with mozzarella and ham. 
     

    So, it’s a feast again, and the enormous amount of food consumed actually prevents everybody to move a finger for at least a couple of hours after the banquet. Scenes of people laid down under a tree, with a hand on the stomach and the other of the forefront, are extremely common.
    The sunset reminds everybody that it is time to go home and jump in bed... a good rest from eating before going back to work the day after…
    Of course, a good work day starts from a good breakfast… and if that involves some leftover pastiera or colomba, what else could a genuinely Neapolitan fellow ask for??

  • Dining in & out: Articles & Reviews

    Easter Wonders. Aka What's for Dinner Tonight?

    According to the Church, Easter is the most important festivity for a Christian. The celebration of the Resurrection of the Christ involves a number of symbolic rituals, and requires an absolute commitment starting on Holy Thursday.
     
    However, going to church, attending masses, and doing adorations is only a part of what this festivity means to us Italian-American people. Besides the  nourishment of the soul, in fact, there is the one of the stomach!

    The feast of Maundy (or Holy) Thursday solemnly commemorates the institution of the Eucharist and is the oldest of the observances peculiar to Holy Week. If Holy Thursday was taken up with a succession of ceremonies of a joyful character (the baptism of neophytes, the reconciliation of penitents, the consecration of the holy oils, the washing of the feet, and commemoration of the Blessed Eucharist), in Italy  it is characterized by the first festive meal of the week. More specifically, in Southern Italy people enjoy a fish dinner, in most cases  the  zuppa di cozze.  a bowl of mussels and dry bread called fresella.

    After a whole day of penitence and fasting on Good Friday, people get ready start preparing Easter traditional dishes, that generally require a whole lot of work and dedication.

    In Naples, the city where I come from, housewives and mothers of family generally take advantage of Good Friday, the only day of the year when they do not have the cook, to open the fridge, start the stove, and get ready to begin the long culinary process that leads to the final result of PASTIERA, the traditional local Easter cake.

    There are different stories about the origins of the Pastiera Napoletana. Some people say that this cake (or maybe I should call it "pie") derives from the pagan spring ritual of the eggs, long before the birth of Christ. Another story tells of how this pie was part of the ritual breads widely used during the period of Constantine by the Christians hidden in the catacombs.

    But the most probable is the one about some nuns in a monastery, San Gregorio Armeno, Naples. They desired to create a dish that represented the resurrection of Christ. To the white ricotta, symbolizing purity, they added wheat grains that buried in the earth grow in the coming season; the eggs, a symbol of new life; and finally the extract of wild flowers that represents the perfume of spring.
    Sometimes preparing this cake becomes an experience for the entire family, from the cooking of the grain to the preparation of the yellow cream made of eggs, milk, flour, and vanilla and orange scent.
    Going to bed with the Pastiera’s aroma in your nose and mind after a full day of starving is really a challenge, a penitence. But Holy Saturday is coming up, and with it… the CASATIELLO, the traditional Neapolitan rustic cake.

    It is a variation of Tortano (that has more or less the same ingredients, with the exception of the lack of hard-boiled eggs), but is very different from the Pizza Chiena, popular in the Central regions of Italy, and that consists of two layers of flaky pastry stuffed with a mixture of eggs, cheeses, and salami.

    Casatiello is full of symbolism both religious and cultural. The dough is rolled around salami and cheeses while laces of bread embrace whole eggs. The salami represents an antique pagan ritual where pigs were sacrificed in exchange for fertility of women and the land. Pecorino cheese represents the milk of the lamb or the innocence of Christ.
    Tradition wants that people, friends, families, get together on Holy Saturday to have a meal consisting of just three elements (consumed in enormous quantities!): casatiello, fava beans, and red wine. 

    Those who are lucky enough to own a countryside villa or a beach house generally invite their friends to join them there. Their brick oven will better serve the purpose of making the “perfect casatiello”, and the terrace/garden will allow everybody to spend sometime in the fresh air, play, and get visibly drunk with that strong homemade wine…

    Casatiello is also part of the AT-LEAST-FIVE-COURSES  big (huge) Easter lunch consumed the day after. The Italian Moto “Natale con I tuoi, e Pasqua con chi vuoi” (Christmas with the family, Easter with whoever you like to spend it with) doesn’t really apply to reality, since people usually end up spending the holiday at home with dozens of relatives.
     

    The huge “abboffata” (the binge) is preceded by two rituals: the exchange of the Easter Chocolate Eggs, symbol of new birth (and greediness); and the blessing of the table with the Olive branches (collected at church on Palm Sunday) and the Blessed Water ( that the Church gives to the faithfuls on Easter Sunday).
    The sacred and the profane are always mixed together as you can see...

    The role that most of the families follow when organizing the Easter Lunch is the following: have everything you couldn’t eat during Lent, plus the traditional symbolic dishes that is “mandatory” to have on Easter.

    In a few words, here is an example of what Neapolitan families like mine dare to eat in one only meal.
     Appetizer:
    Ricotta Salata (Salty Ricotta); Capicollo; Prosciutto; Mozzarella; Mixed Vegetables in Oil; Casatiello
    First Course:
    Pasta Primavera: Pasta with artichokes, fava beans, zucchini, and (sometimes) other fresh seasonal vaggies; Or Lasagna; Or Cannelloni;

    Second Course:
    Lamb with Potatoes (being the lamb a symbol of new birth and innocence, this is the most symbolic and traditional part of the meal)
    2° Second Course:
    Grilled Stuffed Scamorza Cheese with Salad
     Fennels TO “CLEAN” THE MOUTH:
    Dessert:
    Fruit Salad; Pastiera ; Colomba ( A Traditional white cake with candied fruits and raisins covered with an almond and sugar crust); Chocolate Easter Eggs
     
    The dedication with which Italian mothers make all of these dishes is almost impressive. It can be stated with a certain degree of certainty that Italian American families, instead, have loosened this rigidity and instead prefer to stick to their own family traditions.

    Thus lamb is usually replaced with ham and some of the side dishes are taken from the American tradition, including sweet potatoes and casseroles of various kinds.

    Rituals are very different even when it comes to eggs. The traditions of coloring, and painting hard-boiled eggs is typically American, and is THE moment that children usually love the most. After finishing the "artistic work" it is time to hide chocolate eggs all over the house and place the decorated ones in centerpieces with chocolate bunnies in the middle.

    It is the dessert that really gets Italian and Italian-American people under one only flag.
    Easter for Italian-Americans is in fact a great occasion to enjoy the Italian sweeties they love the most, starting from the Cannolis to end with tiramisu sometimes and Pastiera.
    It's a feast of Italian goodies that no family would ever miss. Each one has its own favorite neighborhood store where to buy them, or sometimes they even take 1 hour trips to make sure they have simply the best!

    Wrapping it up, here are the three commandments Italian and Italian-American people follow on Easter:  enjoy; spend a great day with your family: and eat as much as you want.

    Use these three secret ingredient and be sure you'll have the greatest Easter ever!

     

  • Dining in & out: Articles & Reviews

    Pesto alla Genovese. A Recipe Older than Italy

    This year’s protagonist of the International Day of Italian Cuisine, celebrated on January 17, is the Pesto alla Genovese, the culinary symbol of the Liguria region.

    For the occasion, thousands of chefs, restaurant owners, and gourmets all over the world will prepare this basil-based sauce following the authentic recipe invented in the Genoa area more than 150 years ago.

    Today at its fourth edition, the IDIC was first promoted by the itchefs-Gvci network, made of 1200 chefs and culinary professionals working in 70 different countries. The initiative aims to promote the authenticity of Italian cuisine against the widespread attemps to “corrupt” and alterate it, and to aknowledge the public on original Made in Italy products.

    Last year the day was dedicated to the Tagliatella al Ragù Bolognese, and 1,000 chefs operating in 60 countries mobilitated and prepared one of the most counterfait Italian products as tradition comands.

    This year brings an important novelty: the IDIC will not only be celebrated abroad but also in Italy, where it will be interpreted as the “day of national culinary pride”. “In 2010 Italy celebrates its 150 anniversary as a unified nation. We believe that recipes such as the Pesto alla Genovese, the Risotto alla Milanese and the Tagliatella alla Bolognese have deeply contributed to the process of unification, at least in the kitchen”, said Rosario Scarpato, co-founder of Gvci. “After all, Garibaldi's expedition departed from the ports of Liguria. Perhaps he ate a some pasta with pesto before leaving”.

    The name Pesto, as many of you might know, is the contracted past participle of the Genoese word pestâ (Italian: pestare) which means "to pound, to crush" in reference to the sauce's crushed herbs and garlic.

    The recipe is older than Italy, and dates back to the first thirty years of the XIX century. It appeared in written form for the first time in famous gourmet Giovanni Battista Ratto’s  book "La cuciniera genovese" in 1865. As chef Emerico Romano Calvetti explained in 1910, it was first conceived as a alternation of the aggiadda (agliata), a 1200 sauce made of garlic, vinegar, olive oil and salt, that was used to preserve pre-cooked foods and cover the smells and the savour of meets in process of putrefaction.

    Historically, pesto is prepared in a marble mortar with a wooden pestle. The basil leaves are washed, dried, placed in the mortar with garlic and coarse salt, crushed to a creamy consistency, and then mixed with pine nuts. When the nuts are well-incorporated into the "cream", grated cheese and then olive oil are added and mixed.

    This frugal, although delicious sauce, is served at room temperature on pasta, traditionally Mandilli de Sæa (Genovese dialect - literally "silk handkerchiefs" - for lasagna), trofie or trenette. To the dish are also traditionally added potatoes and little green beans, boiled in the same pot in which the pasta has been cooked.

    Because pesto is a generic term for anything which is made by pounding, there are various other pestos, some traditional, some modern. For this reason, the original (and most common) pesto is now called pesto alla genovese or pesto genovese, in order to help differentiate the original basil based pesto from alternatives, that have themselves become cornerstones of other regional cuisines in Italy

    One of the most famous variations to the original recipe is the Pesto alla siciliana, sometimes called simply pesto rosso (red pesto) is a sauce from Sicily similar to pesto genovese but with the addition of tomato, almonds instead of pine nuts, and much less basil.

    Pesto alla calabrese, on the other hand,  is a sauce from Calabria consisting of (grilled) bell peppers, black pepper and more; these ingredients give it a distinctively spicy taste.

    Genoa, however, is not willing to be forgotten as the  “homeland” of the protagonist of this year’s IDIC. The Commissioner of Agriculture of the Liguria region Roberto Barbagallo has indeed announced that the region is planning to ask the European Union a special certification for this antique local recipe, the STG-Specialità Tradizionale Garantita (Traditional Speciality Guaranteed)

    “The Pesto Day is a fantastic showcase for us and our producers to promote the symbol of our local cuisine, distinguishing it from the numerous counterfactions and imitations. We want people to taste the authentic pesto, made of ‘seven magnificent ingredients’:  basil, garilc, olive oil, salt, pine nuts, pecorino and grana cheeses,” he pointed out.

    The IDIC was launched on January 12-13 at Chef Cesare Casella’s Italian Culinary Academy in New York.

    Tomorrow January 17, special events organized for the occasion by members of the itchefs-gvci network will take place all around the world. In particular Pietro Rongoni (Aromi Italiani) will be in Moscow, Elena Ruocco and Francesco Carli (Copacabana Palace Hotel) in Rio De Janeiro , Giulio Vierci in Sapporo and Donato De Santis (Cucina Paradiso) in Buenos Aires.

    In these days the above mentioned cities are also hosting the preliminaries of the Genoa Mortar-Made Pesto World Championships, that will take place in Genoa on March 24, 2012

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