Tuesday, November 30

Celebrating the True Meaning of Thanksgiving in the Italian Countryside

 We may be a million miles away from America (OK more like 5,000), but every year we celebrate the true meaning of Thanksgiving deep in the Italian countryside, without a pilgrim in site. I never thought it would take us leaving the U.S. to properly celebrate & truly understand the meaning of this holiday. 
Jason carving the turkey
Jason & I take this opportunity to 'give thanks' to those that have helped & supported us throughout the year, our friends & neighbors who help make our life here possible.  The guest list includes of course Dott. Gaggi & his wife (our adopted Italian family) & neighbors like Sylvia & Pieter who contribute in countless ways, Beppe who donates seeds & starters for the garden/farm every year, Severino who let us borrow his truck when we were building our chicken coop, Pierangelo our farmer & bearer of wood, Maria, Pia & Ida the old grandma's that have taught Jason how to roll pasta & perfect his sauces, Marco who helps stock our wine cellar and Vittorio our master of meats, whom we cure hundres of kilos of meat with. These are just a few of the wonderful people that share their recipes, jump the car when its dead, lend a helping hand without a second thought & teach us the true meaning of the word 'neighbor' and how to better be one ourselves.  Plus they are the "over the top & kooky" characters that shape our experiences here & teach us how to live a truly authentic Italian life - every day! For that and much more we are thankful.

Maria rolling pasta for our Thanksgiving lunch
It is our most favorite lunch to host - we combine the traditions of the Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing & pumpkin pie with that of the Italian holidays with dishes like crostini di fegatini (chicken liver) & cappelletti in brodo (little stuffed hats in broth). The entire meal is made with produce from our farm, including the chicken & eggs (we order our turkey from a neighbor butcher). For most of our guests this is the first time they have ever seen, let alone eaten a turkey roasted whole in the oven - its straight out of the American movies for them & they love it - taking pictures with the turkey!
Making pasta with 50 eggs for cappelletti with a few local nonna's
The week before is spent prepping for the feast - slaughtering chickens for the broth, pasta stuffing & crostini, plus hours in the kitchen making cappelletti with a team of grandma's - rolling, stuffing & closing the tiny delicate pasta filled hats. Jason made the dough with 50 eggs from our chickens! Coming together to work on this meal with the locals even more solidifies the feeling of family, community & holiday for me. As we work our fingers gently closing the pasta, the room is filled with warmth from the fire & good ol' Bing crooning the Christmas classics, interrupted by the endless banter of Gaggi 'busting chops':
"you didn't close the pasta right, are you done rolling the dough, next time make it more rectangular...what would you do without me, I'm the only one who knows how to do it right, you see how good I am at this..." 
Note: This is in dialect & he's talking to the old ladies - the experts! They just fire fake insults right back at him, all of us erupting in laughter. - Ahhh  feels like family to me!

American Thanksgiving - Italian Ringraziamente Menu

Antipasti
Meat & Cheese - Prosciutto e Formaggio
Tart of Greens with Parmesan & Formaggio di Fossa - Torta di Bietola e Formaggio

Primo

Secondo
Turkey with Cornbread Stuffing - Tacchino e Ripieno con Pane di Maize
Potato & Cabbage Mash - Lesso di Cavolo

Dolce
Mix of desserts brought by the guests

Now that's a frisky Italian - Beppe (in his late 80's) asked me for my phone number!

Three years ago we moved out of the U.S., but we've never lost the American spirit to celebrate the holidays!

Friday, November 26

Blog Updates via Email are Back


Thank you blog readers who let me know that there was a hiccup in receiving updates recently. Well, we've fixed the glitch! So here is what you've may have missed:


Thanks for hanging in there with us!

Wednesday, November 17

Sicily

Etna
 We just returned home from eating our way through Sicily (more to come on that of course!) enjoying tons of fresh fish, visiting ancient Agrigento & always in awe of the ever-smoking Etna.  Thanks for your patience while we've been away. I'll be back to regular posts!


Saturday, November 6

"American Water" bottled in Italy, sold at Whole Foods


Chatting with our friend Pieter the other day, who had recently returned from a visit to our local water bottling factory in Apecchio, asked if I would like to try "American water."  Well, I better give it a go I thought, now curious why it would be referred to as this. I wondered what this tiny town in Le Marche had to do with America - I figured he was making a joke & the water had loads of sugar in it!
 
In total shock I discovered what he meant by "American water"...WHOLE FOODS.

Pieter said well, yes they are so happy to export their water to America!  It is known that the mineral water sources found in Le Marche have remarkable beneficial and remedial properties both in thermal treatments (bathing and at the pool) and when bottled for drinking so it's no surprise that it is sold around the world.
Sure enough it said bottled in Apecchio, shipped to Texas - what a small world we live in.   Upon closer examination the label actually reads that the water has journeyed for 2 years through the Tuscan Apennines mountains... I guess they figured no one had heard of Le Marche & with the "made in Tuscany" label  the price tag climbs to almost $10 bottle.  Better yet, visit Le Marche and drink it for free!

Monday, November 1

Basically the Best Baked Onion Rings - Ever. Baked Vegetables with Bread Crumbs Recipe

Now this is home cooking in Italy. Vedure gratinate (baked vegetables with bread crumbs) can be found on many tables here in our area, always delicious - warm & toasty or packed up for a pot-luck.  The thick slices of onions are my favorite and are basically the best onion rings ever! They come out soft & warm inside with perfectly light & crispy crunch. To top it off this healthy dish is incredibly simple to make & can be served as an antipasto or at the end of the meal with your meat as a contorno.


Baked Vegetables with Bread Crumbs
Vedure Gratinate

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