Casa di Nonna
Have I mentioned that my mother-in-law is a good cook? Probably a zillion times at this point, but I can’t sing her enough praise. My daughter and I took a 5 day hiatus from the life of restaurant food and the hotel to spend with her nonni, zii and her cugini in Liguria. It was a lovey break, having my morning coffee in my pjs, taking walks through Lavagna, and home cooked meals. Despite the walks, I think I gained 30 pounds, my mother-in-law always makes too much and I always feel guilty for her effort and that the food will go to waste. I have my mother to thank for my feelings of guilt, but if she was a bad cook, I may not feel so guilty, so my mother really isn’t to blame, the truth is that I am a pig.
We had salted anchovies on bruschetta as an antipasto almost every night. She gets a big jar of them every year from a fisherman, keeps a heavy rock on top to keep air from getting in, cleans them and soaks them in olive oil as she needs them. Heaven.
Knowing that I have been feeling vegetable deprived she prepared wonderful contorni all week, sautéed eggplant; steamed zucchini tossed in olive oil; friarielli, which are similar to broccoli rabe; sautéed artichokes; and my very favorite, la scarola imbottita, which is a head of escarole stuffed with pine nuts, olives, capers and raisins and bound together with a string and braised. This is something that Neapolitans only eat at Christmas, but made special for me because she knows how much I love them, she also wants to keep her hand at doing it since it is something my father-in-law doesn’t like. I’ve requested that she teach me how this Christmas.
The absolute best meal were her fried anchovies, which I have been dreaming about for the past three years. I swear she makes them best. I think I ate 2 dozen of them, they were beyond delicious. Just looking at the pictures is making me hungry for more.
We didn’t eat a whole lot of pasta, my father-in-law lived in Milano for too many years to love pasta, even though he is actually Roman and as he gets on in years that Roman is really coming out. We did, however, eat a lot of fish and that is always good for dinner, not to mention the fact that my daughter loves fish and was in heaven in her nonna’s kitchen. It was good to see her eating again!
Two Years Ago: Sweet Potatoes Wrapped in Sage and Prosciutto