Viva Italia! (Long Live Italy)
The other day I was sharing a memory of a trip to Italy with my friend Christine. She was planning a backpack trip to Europe that would include a trip to Italy. This inspired me to gather my loose photo’s and journal a few memories of Italy.
This collage of photos includes Rome, Florence, Siena and Pisa.
My favorite stop along the journey was Tuscany. If I could, I would live there in a Villa among a field of grapes vines and olive trees. Unforgettable, is the day spent driving along the Tuscan country side with winding hills including miles and miles of grapes fields. Unexpectedly in the distance was a field of poppies, vibrant red that seemed to trail for an eternity. The destination would prove that wine replaces water and pasta is of abundance.
Pisa granted a sense of peace. The Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa or the Square of Miracles made me shiver. The history was so rich it weighed heavy in the air. Since the times of the Etruscans, the three structures found in the piazza have been considered central to religious life, symbolizing the main stages of a human’s life: the Baptistry represents birth, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta life and the graveyard, of course, alludes to death.
On the train from Florence to Rome, I met this beautiful Calabrese woman by the name of Giovanna (lei e’ bella). On the amazing journey on the train, we shared stories of our italian family heritage. Many customs she shared were the same as my grandparent and parents taught, yet some different, but all centered around “mia famiglia”.
She shared this recipe with me. I found it with the stacks of pictures on the back of a piece of envelope she had written on while we were traveling on the train sipping expresso and eating biscotti.
Sugo al pomodoro (Tomato Sauce)
Giovanna shared that her Mama, had a pot of fresh sauce on the stove everyday by noon ready for pasta, pizza or eggs and simply dipping bread for a snack.
- 35 ounces (2 pounds 3 ounces) Tomatoes (preferably organic)
- 3 ounces Onion (finely chopped)
- 6 tablespoons (3/8 cup) Extra virgin olive oil (plus an extra dash to complete the sauce at the end)
- 1 teaspoon Sugar
- 1 tablespoon Tomato purée (optional)
- Few basil leaves
- Salt for seasoning
In a heavy bottomed sauce pan pour olive oil in the pot. After chopping the onions finely, and peeling and mincing two gloves of garlic, begin to brown them in the olive oil. On a medium heat stirring constantly until barely translucent in color. Do not burn or it will be bitter. Lower and simmer while you chop the tomatoes.
Drop the whole tomatoes in boiling water to blanch for 20-30 seconds. This will allow you to peel the skin off easily. Peel the skin off the tomatoes and quarter. Remove the seeds from the tomatoes and chop into small square pieces. Chopping the tomatoes in small quarters will ensure that they cook evenly in the sauce.
She said that her Mama used to say that the “moderns” can cheat and use canned chopped tomatoes.
Add the tomatoes to garlic and onion. Stir in the tomatoes and paste. Add the sugar and salt.
Simmer for 30 minutes then add fresh basil leaves and cook for another 30 minutes on a slow simmer. Stirring the uncovered pot often while the sauce simmers.
Drizzle a little olive oil before you toss over pasta!
Giovanna said she remembers coming home each day to the wonderful smell of Sugo al Pomodoro!
Buon Viaggio-good travel!