Amore/Odio (Love/Hate)

Today I experienced some of the best and the worst of the Italian character: the best being the ability to make fantastic meals out of the simplest ingredients, the worst being the inability to accomplish tasks in a timely fashion.
The worst first. Back in April, Barry's parents took us on an amazing trip to Sicily. Alitalia, an airline that has won awards for its in-flight meals, is not so skilled in the baggage delivery department (this I found out upon our return to the U.S., with a little help from Google). When we first arrived in Sicily, I found that Alitalia had temporarily lost my baggage, but they assured me that I could buy what I needed to get by until the bag was found. They promised that the airline would reimburse me half of the cost of my purchases. Needless to say, it's six months later and I'm still waiting for the reimbursement check. After calling their offices every day this week, holding for 30 mintues each time (no exaggeration), and never speaking to a human on the other end, I paid their headquarters - conveniently located in the Empire State building - a little visit today. I was essentially told that I shouldn't hold my breath. Ugh -the worst!
However, when I returned home, the best of Italy awaited. Becasue Barry is participating in the century ride (100 miles on a bicycle) tomorrow, I promised him a high-carb dinner tonight. I turned to a recipe in a book that my in-laws bought for me and Barry on one of the most fabulous days that the four of us spent in Sicily. The Heart of Sicily, by Anna Tasca Lanza, is a cookbook full of recipes from Regaleali, an estate in the center of the island. The four of us trekked to Regaleali one day for a spectacular meal in Anna's villa. There, we were treated to the company of Anna and her charming husband, and we were given tips on how to prepare each of the different courses of the meal, which was itself prepared right before our eyes, in the kitchen where Anna hosts cooking classes. The estate, the weather, the hosts, the meal - it was all perfection. The best!
And so, I offer you the tasty recipe that I prepared for Barry this evening:

Pasta con il Pomodoro Scoppiato (Pasta with Burst Cherry Tomatoes)
1 to 1.5 pints cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 to 2 teaspoons dried oregano
ground hot pepper
1 pound spaghetti
1/4 cup grated pecorino or parmesan (optional)

Cook the tomatoes in a large saute pan in the olive oil with the garlic until they begin to burst and release their juices. Do this over medium heat so as not to burn the garlic before the tomatoes begin to release their juices. Once the tomatoes burst, raise the heat to evaporate the juices and thicken the sauce. Add the oregano. Season to taste with salt and ground hot pepper.

Cook the spaghetti in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain and pour into a serving bowl. Add half the sauce and toss well to mix. Put the remaining sauce on top. Serve immediately, and pass the grated cheese, if desired. This is enough for four as a first course.

Buon appetito, e buon fine settimana!


Anonymous said...

oh...Molto Bene! Susan, I think we were in Italy at the same time! My father took my sister and I on a trip in April as well...Swiss Air lost my sister and I's luggage for 3 days (luckily the villa my father stays in is owned by an ex pilot and stewardess...so, they were on it!) We went to Rome, Asisi and Florence...I love Italy, especially Florence, and have never been to Sicily. I actually spent my 36th birthday, on Easter on a hillside in a mideaval villiage...you can read all about it on the blog. We also went to Prague on this trip (you must go there...amazing) Anyway, at the expense of sounding long winded (ha!) Thank you for such an amazing foodie show...I love the food, and it looked very yummy...lucky Barry...of course a century ride is certainly the bestest excuse for that kind of meal I've ever heard of!

Knit Freak said...

I'm so coming to your house for dinner! I get hungry every time you post about food.....I'll see ya on tuesday

Maryanne said...

Yummy... looks like something I make with grape tomatoes from our garden... nothing like it! We'll be thinking good thoughts for Barry!

mia said...

....and I'm hungry.

best of luck, barry!

Sweet Treat said...

Hee, hee! This made me laugh... so many good things about the Italians and so many frustrating "I have been ripped off" things as well! I still love em.

Mary Contrary said...


Colette said...

I make the same dish every year when the cherry tomatoes are fresh and bursting with flavor - you can just taste summer!