Kitchen & Pantry

The Italian lunch

Four years ago, Speedy bought me a copy of The Silver Spoon as an early mother’s day gift. I’ve tried a few recipes from the book [the pork chops with blueberries (bracioli ai mirtilli) and the sweet and sour pork stew (spezzatino in agrodolce) are the two that I remember distinctly] but never really dove deep into the cultural dimension of Italian cooking.

A pity because The Silver Spoon is reputedly the bible of Italian cookery, I have it at my fingertips and have never gotten my hands real dirty, in a manner of speaking.

italian walnut sauce (salsa di noci)Well, it’s time to go Italian. We love Italian food at home, after all. And I’m not just talking about pasta dishes because, based on the content of The Silver Spoon, pasta dishes comprise only a fraction of Italian cuisine. I am especially smitten with the food of the Mediterranean region. The chunky soups look so interesting as many of them are chockfull of vegetables (I do have a vegetarian daughter), most of which are locally available. Not surprising, I suppose. The Mediterranean climate is temperate so the agricultural produce is not so different from what we grow.

So, I started my journey into Italian cooking yesterday. Speedy left the house yesterday at around 10.00 a.m. to pick up the girls (he couldn’t on Friday because Metro Manila was flooded), I thought they’d be back home a little after noon so I had cooked pasta with three different sauces ready by noon. But it turned out that traffic was terrible and they didn’t get home until around 4.00 p.m.

italian mushroom bechamel sauceThe idea was to let everyone choose which sauce to toss the pasta with. So, I had the cooked pasta in a strainer over a bowl, and I had the sauces in three separate bowls. Another bowl contained the crisp fried bacon for the carnivores.

What were the three sauces? First, there was the walnut sauce (salsa di noci).

The second was the mushroom bechamel dusted with freshly grated nutmeg.

italian red bell pepper sauce (salsa di peperoni)The third was the red bell pepper sauce (salsa di peperoni).

All sauces were made with fresh ingredients. Fresh mushrooms, fresh bell peppers… no canned stuff.

And which one did my family like best?

The mushroom bechamel was a universal favorite but then that was the most familiar.

Sam liked the walnut sauce but preferred a little tang in it.

Personally, I liked the red bell pepper sauce.

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