Friday, December 23, 2011

La Dolce Vita, Viva Italiano!!!!

Today, a Facebook contact posted an interesting fact on his wall. The post said "Pizza Margherita was named after Queen Margherita of Italy, by chefs of Naples to commemorate her visit to the city in 1889. Red tomatoes, white cheese and green Basil represent colors of the Italian flag."
Interesting facts like these are little known but they do give an interesting twist to whole experience of having the preparation.
Of all foods, I find Italian food the most gratifying. My first brush with Italian food was early in the 1980s, when my Mom's friend, an Italian nun, Sister Vitelina, invited us for a meal of cheese and macaroni, spaghetti and roast rabbit. That was amazing!
As years went by, off and on, Mom used to make amazing pasta in tomato sauce, typically for New Year eve dinners.
Then came in Pizzas. My first experience with the baked concoction was at the Sector 17 outlet of Hot Millions (or HMs as we used to call it) in Chandigarh!
Then Dominos came to India. My favourite was their Pepperoni Pizza - the melted globules of fat from the pepperoni gives a unique meaty taste.
In Delhi, I discovered the Slice of Italy which delivered gourmet pizzas and pastas, that was a welcome break from the mass produced Dominos crusts.
Another exciting find was Flavors, a trattoria under the Defence Colony flyover - I got the chance of visiting the place twice, once with colleagues and the next time, it was a date with Neeti. The place had an amazing artisanal pastas and hand-tossed, wood-fired pizzas! I haven't visited the trattoria for years now and would love to go there again.
In Bombay, despite all the glitz surrounding the city, attitudes towards food are defined by what the Gujjus want. That makes a lot of restaurants go vegetarian with a vengeance. Little Italy is one such trattoria - there used to be an outlet on New Link Road, where Neeti and I went a couple of times. The pizzas were crisp and flaky, the pastas and risottos had an earthy flavour. Then tragically the outlet shut shop - the half life of restaurants in Bombay is really short, you can safely blame that on artificially elevated real estate prices, which these outlets unviable. The closest Little Italy is now in Juhu, but finding time is a big issue. I lately heard about Ristorante Don Giovanni on Juhu Tara Road which is now undergoing a renovation. But hope it stays long enough - the Chef, Giovanni Federico, had been upset with the real estate prices for a long time.
I started experimenting with pizzas and pastas at home. Into the kitchen, came bottles of olive oil, pasta sauces, olives and capers, with fresh herbs - oregano and basil, from Godrej Nature's Basket.
Neeti came up with her version of tangy pizza sauce which came in very handy for rainy Monsoon dinners when the cook played truant.
The latest concoction we evolved is earthy pasta sauce - chargrilled tomatoes with herbs and spices which made for a delicious pasta.
What I like about Italian cuisine is the earthiness and healthy, crunchy vegetables. Tomatoes are rich in antioxidants, olives are rich in vitamins and healthy fats. Sadly, we have to rely on packaged olives and capers here.
There's lot more than the bastardised Italian that we know of from the likes of Dominos - it would be grave injustice to bucket all genres into one. One really needs to experience the various regional cuisines- Tuscan, Tyrolian, Veneto, Ligurian, Campanian, Puglian, etc. Artisanal stuff like lardo, South Tyrol speck make my tongue tingle with anticipation. Experiencing all this can only happen on a culinary tour of the country.
Till then I will eat my way to health and cry aloud "La Dolce Vita, Viva Italiano!!!!"

No comments:

Aviation Photo Search Engine
Biggest aviation photo database on the 'Net
Aircraft Type...[ Help ]
Airline...[ Help ]
Country / Airport...[ Help ]
Category...[ Help ]
Uploaded... [ Help ]
Keywords... [ Help ]
Range...[ Help ]
Sort By...

Include only photos for sale

Stop searching after hits [ Help ]