Saturday, November 18, 2006

Figlio d'Italia

More posts from the past, but I'm getting closer to today, promise!

31 October 2006
Just dropped Eric off at the train station in Milano. It's been two weeks since we arrived in the very same spot, but in some ways it feels like yesterday. How is that possible? Time, like just about everything else in Italia, is a bit of a mystery.

For example, how is it that we could eat great Sicilian dishes in Umbria? Why can't even native Italians explain their common phrase, "Insomma?" Why are orange pants so popular in Italia?

While Eric was here visiting the homeland of his forefathers, we did our best to uncover these mysteries, but that pursuit, delightfully, only led to more questions, more mysterious experiences, more good stories. To name just a few...

In Domodossola, we ate roasted chestnuts straight from the oven. We missed the famous aquarium in Genova (Sori, Eric!) but did manage to walk along the second longest wall in the world (Sori, China!). We visited Sori, Italia, a small town close to Portofino (Sori you missed it!). Somehow Jackie was soaked in Camogli even before the rain started. Eric spent thirty times as much time in Firenze on this, his second trip. A bat with broken radar hit me in the face in a cave on Monte Conero, and we all learned a new song...well, Jackie had some trouble, but keep practicing, Bella. And remember, it's "La la la la la la la Laaaaaa!"

Through all these mysterious adventures, though, one of the best parts of the trip was seeing Eric's Italian bonds strengthen. he took us on a whirlwind tour of Lucca, guiding us like it was his hometown. Earlier acquaintances became his good friends, and he got to watch a soccer game with the boys. He even ate gelato each time that Jackie and I did.

So while his trip went quickly, it's thanks to our wonderful hosts (Jackie and Antonello - tante grazie!), our many generous friends (grazie a tutti!), and the mysterious Italia that the ties here get stronger and sweeter with every visit.

A presto, Ericco!

On Eric's last night in Macerata, Jackie and Antonello hosted a Halloween Party for family and friends. The festa was complete with spooky treats for the guests and a jack-o-lantern, which went over almost as famously as Eric's spinach dip. We had fun laughing over memories, eating great food, and sharing American holiday traditions.

Around the Marche, locals have their own Halloween, or rather, All Saints' Day tradition. This is the time for fave, almond flavored cookies that come in two varieties: soft and crispy.

I haven't had a chance to bake my own fave yet, but I've tried two delicious varieties in Maceratese bakeries. Since it seems fave vary from one kitchen to the next, here are a couple different recipes (one in Italian, another in English) that might be worth trying as you celebrate Halloween and All Saints' Day.

Enjoy! and Boo!

Fave dei morti
1 etto e mezzo di mandorle macinate
2 etti di zucchero
2 etti di farina
mezzo etto di zucchero
un cucchiaino di cannella
due uova
la buccia grattugiata di un limone

Impastare tutti gli ingredienti in un amalgama piuttosto morbido e confezionare dei rotoloni allungati, tipo grissino; questi verranno, poi, tagliati in piccoli pezzi da 3-4 cm. e poi schiacciati in dischetti. Spolverare di farina il fondo imburrato di una larga teglietta che sarà posta nel forno a 160° per 25 minuti.

Begin with a 1/4 pound of shelled almonds and a 1/2 cup sugar. Grind some of the almonds, with their skins, and some of the sugar together. Once you've ground the mixture, put it through a fine strainer, and return any unground almond bits to the mortar or food processor. Add some fresh almonds, a little more sugar, and repeat the process until all the sugar and almonds are used; be careful not to use too much sugar in the beginning.

Add to the almond flour two large, heaping tablespoons of flour (about 2/3 cup), 2 teaspoons of cinnamon, a walnut-sized chunk of unsalted butter, a whole egg, and the grated zest of a half a lemon.

Flour your hands and roll the dough into a long, narrow "snake," about a half inch in diameter. Cut half inch pieces from the "snake" and use your hands to flatten and shape each piece into an oval that roughly resembles a large fava bean. Arrange the cookies on a greased and floured cookie sheet, leaving a little space for them to expand. Bake the fave in a moderate oven (360 F) for about 20 minutes until golden brown. For softer fave, bake a little less, and for crispier fave, bake a little longer.


At 3:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

These sound delicious. We will have to try them. Did you get my email pictures of the sugo delle zie?
First snowflakes in the air today!
Love, Aunt Betty

At 5:23 AM, Blogger Stelle In Italia said...

yay for eric and a wonderful visit to italy. very sweet post (made even sweeter by the cookie recipe! yum!).


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