There is a centuries old Italian tradition passed down through the generations of producing flavored liquors fatto a casa, or made at home. Family artisans relied on the local spices, herbs, fruits, flowers, nuts, seeds, and barks of the countryside as the flavoring essence for their liquor. One friend living in Florence prides himself on his annual Nocino liquor production made with unripened green walnuts, always being certain to share a bottle with us to take to back to the states to be opened at Christmas time. Further south along the coastal Campagna region, the picturesque destination of writers, celebrities, and later film stars since the 19th century, one finds both family and commercial production of the iconic lemon liquor know as Lemoncello….
Archives for November 2014
As a child, I remember my grandfather returning home with a sack of mushrooms he foraged from a nearby wooded area. My grandmother would take the harvest and cook it along with a silver coin; legend had it that if the coin turned black, the mushrooms were poisonous. Now please don’t try this at home, although this method is widely utilized across cultures as a litmus test for determining the toxicity of wild mushrooms, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim. Reflecting back, it seems as though my grandparents must have known something about selecting forest funghi, as none of us were ever rushed to the emergency room after meal….
Keeping with the Thanksgiving theme, here is another of our family favorites adapted from Gina DePalma of Babbo in Greenwich Village. If you are not familiar with this recipe, you are missing something extraordinary. In it’s simplicity, Torta di Zucca delivers the essence of a fall evening in the Italian countryside – comforting, straightforward, and satisfying. The ingredients couldn’t be more Italian – olive oil, rosemary, raisins, Grappa, pine nuts; pleasantly evoking something typically prepared by a loving Nonna using only what she had on hand….