Aaaahh – The Italian Store – Home Sweet Home

(Reprinted with permission from Fran Tunno)

When I walk into my favorite Italian store, I can’t wipe the smile off my face. It’s like coming home. There’s a smell Italian stores have; a combination of peppers and oregano with a little hint of salami and tomato sauce in there for good measure. I love it.

I just bought a little jar of Italian seasoning from a website called Ciao Pittsburgh just to try it out. I sprinkled it on some zucchini with onions I was sauteing and, not only did it taste great, but my whole kitchen smelled like the Italian store! I’m thinking about just sprinkling it on my kitchen counters so my apartment smells more authentic. Actually, I’m putting some in my bra right now, it could be the ultimate aphrodisiac.

I got my love of Italian stores from my mom, of course. When we’d walk into Italian stores back home in western Pennsylvania, her face lit up with possibility while my dad’s face registered terror because he knew what it would cost and saying no to my mother was pointless.

Walking up and down the aisles with our small cart on weathered wood floors I’d hear, “Robert, lettsa getta somma dis,” as she filled her cart. Twenty somma dis and somma dat’s later, we’d leave with sharp cheeses and salami, proscuitto — if we were lucky, lupini beans, jars of antipasto, those oil-cured dry black olives that my mom loved, pasta, mortadella for my dad and a bag of pastel colored candied almonds or chocolates for me. It was heaven for a food lover like me, so I  enjoy revisiting that feeling as often as possible.

Read more at Fran’s blog!

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Italian Lessons

Dedication and Sense of Humor are Key in Learning Second Language

By Marjorie Eisenach

After reading a witty, self-deprecating, and insightful New York Times essay by William Alexander, where he details the benefits of learning a second language as an adult, “The Benefits of Failing at French,” I decided to come clean on my relationship with learning Italian. 

It all started when I was a 17-year-old freshman at the University of Wisconsin, having enrolled in intensive Italian, I spent 10 hours Monday through Friday memorizing Italian dialogues. I was hoping one day to join the Foreign Service and become a younger version of Claire Booth Luce. I knew even then that I wanted to attend the University of Bologna during my junior year. But I could barely spit out, “vorrei un panino,” when I went to Bologna two years later.  

I vividly remember one of my early embarrassing “Italian” moments, when I received the results of my very first oral quiz. I was marked down three points for incorrectly answering the most basic of all oral questions, “Come si chiama?,” which translates to, “What is your name?.” My response was, “Mi chiamo Fulvia Bruni.” Since we had been instructed to memorize the dialogues in our text verbatim, I answered somewhat confidently and totally incorrectly this most basic of questions.

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8 Real Italian Dishes to Order instead of the American Knockoffs

fettuccine al burroWhen Americans think of Italian food, they tend to think of pepperoni pizza, garlic bread, and chicken Parmesan. But all of those dishes are actually Italian-American hybrid foods created by Italian immigrants who were cooking with U.S. ingredients.

In other words, what we think of as “classic Italian” is not actually from Italy at all.

We rounded up some ways to go more authentic, whether it’s in your own kitchen or on your next trip to Italy.

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Ravioli: An Easy Italian Dish

Everyone loves Italian food especially if someone else makes it. But in last Sunday’s televised edition of Oksana’s Island Kitchen, Italian was made easy.

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The 7 Most Common Mistakes When Cooking Pasta

cooking pasta boiling waterBy Patti Mays

According to a recent pasta survey taken among Italian chefs and experts – these are the 7 most common mistakes most people make when cooking pasta…

1. Not using a large enough cooking pot

This is probably the most common “pasta cooking” mistake. The very minimum that the experts recommend is four quarts of water for one pound of pasta. But Italian chefs and pasta experts use more than that; between five and six quarts of water for each pound of pasta. This gets the very best results.

Why is all that water necessary? Because pasta needs enough space to move around in order to cook properly. Not using enough water causes the pasta to stick to the side of the pan, which makes it thick, sticky and unpleasant. When you use enough water you will definitely notice the difference in the taste and texture.

2. Adding oil to the cooking pot

It is hard to determine just where this idea came from originally but 44 per cent of Americans say they add olive or other oil to the cooking water. I suspect the idea is that the oil will stop the pasta from sticking together. But what it actually does is make the pasta too slick for any sauce to stay on it properly. If you have used enough water and remember to stir your pasta regularly as it is cooking, it will not stick together. Therefore – no need to add oil.

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