Monday 28 February 2011

Cucina Povere

Cucina Povere translates into English as "poor kitchen."  The term is used to describe Italian peasant cooking; food made from local, readily available ingredients, with very little going to waste.  Many of the Italian foods with which North Americans are most familiar arise from this tradition, including polenta, foccacia al fromaggio, pesto pasta,  Sicilian pasta with anchovies and breadcrumbs, and minestra (a green vegetable soup).

Although the term Cucina Povere is used specifically to describe Italian food, peasant cooking has evolved on the same principles worldwide and, as our tastes become more cosmopolitan, we are learning to appreciate these simple foods for their honest flavours.  From the naan bread and lentils to red beans and rice with every imaginable ingredient in between, these dishes provide solid nutrition and a link to kitchens and cultures far older than our own.

Wedding soup is an Italian/North American soup, evolved from Italian traditions and the ingredients available to Italian immigrants when they arrived in the new world.  The term "wedding soup" is a mistranslation of the Italian language, minestra maritata ("married soup"), which is a reference to the fact that green vegetables and meat go well together.  Enjoy this dish of North American peasant food and celebrate the meeting of new cultures and old. 

Sunday 27 February 2011

Test Day

When I was a student, the words "test day" filled me with anxiety.  At best, they meant hours of review.  At worst, they mean hours of review resulting in disappointing grades.  Now, though, test day means something else entirely. Every Sunday, I test the dishes that will be offered in the coming week's menu. 

Testing the week's menu allows me to adjust seasonings in the dishes, make my grocery list for the week, and to plan my prep and cooking time.  It also produces a completed dish that I can photograph for use on my menus and my Facebook page.  Best of all, though, it fills my house with the wonderful scents of home cooking and provides us with an excellent lunch that we can enjoy on a leisurely Sunday afternoon.  I love test day!