Saturday, May 2, 2015

Italy, Food

I was sick the whole time we were in Italy (sinus infection) so eating was a bit of a problem.  Restaurants don't open for dinner until 7:30 or 8 and by then I usually wanted to sleep.  So we ate in our flat a lot. Meals that were not exciting.  But we did have a few lovely meals.  And some nice gelato.

Here's a picture of one from the Stella Maris Restaurant on the beach in Amalfi. It was a local fish - don't know what it was - but it was very fresh and very good.

Lemons and San Marzano tomatoes are the crops grown here. I love lemons, so that's great for me. I also love Limoncello, the local liqueur made from lemons. The story we heard about the San Marzano tomato - which all cooks everywhere agree is the best for tomato sauce - was interesting.  We heard that in the 18th century, seeds of the San Marzano tomato were given as a gift from the King of Peru to the King of Naples.  

You may ask yourself, why did the King of Peru give a gift to the King of Naples? The reason for the gift seems lost to history.  Or at least not in Wikipedia.  I did learn that the San Marzano tomato probably did come from Peru, but also that there was no King of Peru in the 18th century.  So... it's a good story.

We also had a lovely lunch in Positano - the COG had grilled squid and I had lemon pasta, which was so fantastic that I am going to try to make some or find some.  Trader Joes has Lemon Pepper pasta, nice but not the same.   We had an elegant meal on our last night at a fancy restaurant in Ravello - again we had simple fresh delicious food.

But the stand out, in a way, of the whole trip was pizza we had in a restaurant in Ravello one of our first nights there.  This was the BEST pizza I have ever had.  It was so simple, crust-tomato sauce- buffalo mozzarella.  That's it. But the crust was the best crust ever.  The tomato sauce was the best tomato sauce ever - so much flavor. And the buffalo mozzarella was divine.  I had quite a bit of buffalo mozzarella while we were there and it was always good - such a different thing from the pale kind of tasteless stuff we get here, which I love anyway.

The thing that, for me, made this pizza so memorable was that it reinforced what everyone says - good simple ingredients, well-prepared.  One of those lessons for cooking that I knew of course, but when I actually had this pizza, I finally really got it.  I will always aspire to make everything I cook from now on, this good.

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