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….
Our Thanksgiving day meal has remained largely unchanged over the years. Whether in Northern California or New Jersey, the progression of courses and recipes have more or less remained constant. There is a pattern, an order to how we do things from reviewing last year’s meal for some minor tweaking to orchestrating the presentation of the feast. After several weeks of ruminating over the details, preparing the to-do lists, marketing, starting the actual cooking – understandably a well needed moment to collect oneself before the big event is in order. Beginning our celebration in the living room in front of a toasty fire, with glass of Prosecco and un bocconcino or nibble, coaxes our guests to relax while offering a peek of the delights to follow. Most civilized, wouldn’t you agree?…
Ask any Italian American family about their Thanksgiving meal and I guarantee you that there is a pasta course. Yes, I realize that this sounds ludicrous given the abundance of food on the table Thanksgiving Day, but tradition prevails. As Italian immigrants assimilated having pasta was something that reminded them of their history as they whole heartedly embraced the traditions of their new home….
Farro has long entered the world of food rock star. Once a humble grain, a staple in ancient Rome it is now found on the menus of every Italian restaurant from New York to San Francisco. There are actually some good reasons for this; farro’s distinctive nutty taste, delicate bite, and versatile nature make it perfect for adapting seasonal dishes. The instructions for preparing farro are universal. Once you have done so, it provides a blank palate for an infinite variety of dishes. This particular version is a family favorite and an excellent vegetarian entrée….