February 11, 2008

Italian Food

I'm not Italian by blood. But I am Italian by osmosis.

You see, I'm adopted. And my adoptive parents, who picked me up at the orphanage when I was a tiny six weeks old, are Italian on one side and English on the other. I have to say that the Italian side was much stronger and more gregarious than the English side, thus I feel more Italian than English.

My dad's parents are 100% Italian, both from Calabria, down in the "toe'' of Italy. Have you ever seen My Big Fat Greek Wedding? Well, my family's gatherings and weddings were eerily similar. Just call them My Big Fat Italian Weddings and you've got the idea.

Yesterday my dad flew down to visit us at my sister's house and it has been a cooking and eating frenzy since he arrived. Last night I made spaghetti all'Amatriciana for dinner, then this morning the meatballs were being mixed up by 9 a.m., with the final few finishing up their cooking about 11 a.m.
Just in time for brunch. Which consisted of meatballs in sauce, sprinkled with Parmesan, and bread.
It was heaven.

my oldest nephew, mixing up the meatball mix

brunch - meatballs with bread to soak up the sauce

After a third of the meatballs had been eaten and we were all regretting that we had enjoyed so many at our stomach's expense, my dad spied a pile of baking potatoes and decided that we should make cavatelli. Cavatelli is the Calabrian dialect for gnocchi. It is something that I grew up eating on holidays and visits to my grandparent's house. It was always a special treat and my grandma taught me how to make her cavatelli many years ago, but since then I've never taken the time to make it.
Today I had the opportunity.

Three generations of us, with grandma constantly being consulted on the phone, all made a huge batch of cavatelli.

dad making the dough

my sister and oldest niece making pasta

the dough before it is formed into the correct shape

my youngest niece learning how to make the pasta

the rolled out cavatelli

the cooked cavatelli with sauce

I feel very lucky to have grown up with both my Italian and my English parents. But I must admit, the food from the Italian side is much, much better! Pin It


Peter M said...

I'm diggin' that big, honkin' meatball but I'm really impressed with the 3 generations of family helping out in the kitchen...that's the stuff!

Loulou said...

They were so darn delicious! It was a great day.

Brunofrance said...

And where is mine?

La Belette Rouge said...

Are you up for adopting another member to your family. I cannot make meatballs--but I can certainly eat them ;-)

Loulou said...

I'm inspired! When I get home I'll make some and you can eat them all!
See you in a few days my love.

la belette rouge,
I'll ask my parents for you. :)

Meatballs aren't hard to make, but they do take some time. It is a great, lazy Sunday afternoon activity and so worth it!

Susan in Italy said...

Yummy yummy! It looks fabulous.

Loulou said...

They were! Have you ever made gnocchi?

Cassoulet Cafe said...

Wonderful post, with delightful family memories for you I'm sure, and a wonderful looking meal!

Love the movie reference....one of my favorite movies...plus I am Greek! :)

Loulou said...

Glad you liked it!
Some of the themes in that movie are so similar to the Italian culture. It cracks me up!

amysep said...

This looks delicous. There really is nothing like homemade pasta...ever! BUT, I'm going to be a killjoy here and say that your link to the amatriciana sauce recipe didn't seem very authentic. I'm obsessed w/ the dish and am a purist to a certain degree w/ it. The recipe calls for pancetta but fails to mention that traditionally it would NEVER be made w/ it but made w/ guanciale or cured pork cheeks (the taste is very different). Also, Amatriciana is a Lazio specialty and would never, ever use Parmigiano. Only Pecorino since, natch, it's from the Lazio region! Ok, I'll shut up now!! If anyone wants a tested Amatriciana recipe, you can check out mine. I was lucky, though... I smuggled guanciale back from Italy in my suitcase! http://neverfull.wordpress.com/2007/12/17/im-dreaming-of-some-cured-pigs-cheeks-perciatelli-alamatriciana/

welcome home! amy @ We Are Never Full

Loulou said...

Thanks for giving your opinion. I'm a purist about some things but I do believe in adapting recipes to ingredients on hand - to a point. I'm not going to give up cooking certain Thai dishes just because I cannot find lemongrass, you know? Although lemon zest isn't the same as lemongrass, it works most of the time.

I wrote the post with the Amatriciana link at Like to Cook and took the recipe from Marcella Hazan's book, The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. I love her and think her books are fabulous! Maybe she adapted the recipe for people who couldn't easily get a hold of guanciale? The same goes for Pecorino?
I know these flavors are quite different...but with the sweet onion and tomato flavors in the sauce, is there really that much of a difference?

Thanks for the link to your recipe. I'll try to make your version if I can find guanciale here in France. Would using the French equivalent be authentic enough or can I only use a product made from Italian pigs? (just kidding...playing devil's advocate)
Hopefully the next time I'm in Italy, I'll find some, bring it home and can make your version.