As advised by Elisa, I woke early to find the sun already beaming down on the many beautiful fiori e piante in giardino.And on il cane di famiglia, Stella. The famiglia once again gathered in the garden to enjoy a typical italian breakfast.After breakfast and morning conversation, it was time to walk the short, short distance to the stores to gather the freshest ingredients for the day.
And into this small store carrying only a few items like fresh herbs, olive oil, canned vegetables (fatta in casa) and pinoli. And then we made another trip back to get something else, that I do not remember. Unlike having to make a return trip to HEB, these outings were a pleasure. During each visit, the same signore was sitting sentinel. Back in the casa, Anna was preparing the vegetables for both the ragu and the crostini toscani- leeks, carrots and red onion. After each visit to Italy, there are additions to my cucina that must be purchased. A mezzaluna is on the list. Now to discuss the Crostini Toscani. We first had to cut the spleen into small pieces…and then do the same to the chicken livers….both of these jobs became mine once they were demonstrated. The meat was then was browned with the vegetables at this point, if you have fresh anchovies, add now…if not, Mara uses from a tube. After all ingredients cook together, it is time to put through a food mill. This process combines all to create a grayish brown paste to be put on crostini (The difference between crostini and bruschetta I also learned). Crostini is smaller, toasted bread that can have a variety of toppings and bruschetta is larger toasted bread with olive oil and salt (you had me here) and usually pomodori and basilico. I am personally a member of Team Bruschetta. The ragu was made as I have learned before,, beginning with the vegetables,, adding the freshly ground beef from the butcher,, tomatoes and Anna says, “Quando cominicia a cantare, vuole il vino..” When it begins to sing, it wants the wine…Understood! Now it is time to prepare the pesto…because for lunch, un tipo di pasta non e sufficiente! Mara steps right outside to gather the basilico fresco. To this, fresh parmigiano, fresh aglio and pinoli from down the street are added. Oh and let’s not forget the freshest and best of olio d’oliva. And for dolce, tiramisu, naturalmente. But as Mara and Anna added, this was to be tiramisu leggero, tiramisu light…no uova.
We had set up the table to dine in the garden, but a threatening cloud with loud claps of thunder, changed our plans. In our Italian and English we discussed the common sayings, “Better safe than sorry” (in english) and “Better to fear than to be beat up”…or something like that (in Italian). The latter had, had of course, a hand motion to accompany. At the last moment, Mara prepared what was to be il mio preferito, salvia fritta.
With the table set for pranzo tradizionale toscana…we begin. Somehow, perhaps gluttony, I forgot to capture the Tiramisu Leggero…but not to worry, there was molto after that! Biscotti di Prato with Vin Santo and finally espresso…certo.Words and photos cannot sufficiently describe this day. Elisa’s family was so open to this new experience. The language barrier actually added to the fun. Anna, who speaks no English, warmed quickly and would look between Elisa and myself for translation. Her eyes excited about what my reaction would be to her words. At one point, Elisa was telling me something and Anna corrected her. Elisa gave an exasperated glance and I said, “Anna knows best.” Elisa translated this, to which Anna replied with a strong, “Certo!” (sure!) I have a priceless video of Anna sharing her recipe for Tortelli Mugellani with me. Anna seems shyish during the filming but afterwards asked to watch it again and again. Each time she would throw her head back laughing and laughing. I told her she was going to become famoso in America and could have her own cooking show. We would title it, “Anna Knows Best” with “Certo” coming across the screen many times through the episode. I am currently arm wrestling with my phone and wordpress to attempt to upload the video to the blog. So once you read this post and later see an update…don’t disregard. That will hopefully mean Anna and I are the victors. Let me recap the lunch menu in Italian for you. Oggi (10.6) Pranzo: *Antipasto=sottoli, affettati, crostini toscani = (pane, pegatini di pollo, cipolla, milzadimanzo) *Pasta al Ragu- Ragu= carne di manzo, odori (sedano, carota, cipolla), passato di pomodoro, vino. *Pasta al Pesto *Tiramisu Leggero= pavesini, panna, cioccolato fondente, caffe *Bevande= Vino Rosso Chianti BUON APPETITO! And now, posso presentarvi, Anna of Anna Knows Best…Certo!