Archive | January, 2013

Lasagne Verdi

27 Jan

Lasagne Verdi is a dish that I remember my mother making, perhaps once a year, or once every two years… sometimes for Easter or Christmas, but I recall it as a New Year’s day celebration. New Year’s day lunch was always a fancy affair, with family and friends of the family. Of course, as I entered my late teens and university years, it was a little hard to drag myself out of bed for a New Year’s Day lunch, but the food was always worth it.

This dish is something that, in my family, we called “Tagliatelle Verde”, though technically it should have been “Lasagne Verdi.”  Technically tagliatelle are fettuccine (the reason there are so many different names for pasta is not that there are so many different kinds – though there are – it’s because each region has its own names for the various standard paste).

At any rate, this version of lasagne (and note that in most parts of Italy it’s lasagne, the plural, not the singular lasagna) comes from the Emilia-Romagna and Marche regions on and near the Adriatic coast of central Italy. My family hails from the border of those regions, part way between the modern city of Pesaro and the medieval/Renaissance city of Urbino. Continue reading

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Introduction – cooking as an expression of love

27 Jan

When I was growing up, love was expressed through food and material support, never through words. It’s an archetype of Italian culture that English speakers rarely encounter – usually we think of the passionate, effusive Italians, loquacious, waving their arms around, kissing their fingers and shouting “mamma mia!”. To the extent that this is ever accurate, it’s more a stereotype of the Southern Italian. Within Italy, Northern Italians, and not only the men, are considered to be more taciturn. While friendly, my family was not one of many words. I could count the number of times my Mum said “I love you” to me on the fingers of one hand, and I never heard it from my father. Yet I knew I was loved, through their actions, not their words.

Words were for anger, for expressing disappointment. I was more likely to be shouted at than talked to, and if my name was called it was usually in an angry tone. It’s been a life-long struggle for me to turn that around, to use words for appreciation, for love. It’s a practice, not a habit. But I still carry on the tradition of expressing love through food and acts of service. In recent years, since I’ve embarked on the growing my own family, we have established our own traditions around food and celebration, many of which come from my Italian heritage.

In this section of my blog, you will find some of my favourite recipes, and the uses to which I put them. Some of these come from memories of my own childhood, some from the Italian culture of my parents and ancestors, and others I guess peculiar to me.
Continue reading