I don't have a recipe for you today or even a restaurant review. What I do have is nothing short of gushing for the January issue of Gourmet. When this came in the mail last week, it got lumped into the pile of non-essential mail to be looked at a later date. Sometimes I do this because I honestly only have time to pick out the bills or other critical items; but sometimes I do this because I want to save my favorite food or travel magazines for when I've got the luxury of maybe 30 minutes to sit and transport myself to another place. Little did I know that I would be going to Italy so soon.
Last night after seeing "The Reader" with my friend, Christine, I came home and got ready for bed. Not exactly tired enough for sleep, I rummaged through the pile of mail on the dining room table, and saw this cover of spaghetti and meatballs. I was thinking to myself, "spaghetti and meatballs on the cover of Gourmet?" There's gotta be something to this. And oh how right I was.
Not sure how many of you are of Italian heritage, but this issue is like a virtual window into the kitchen of my childhood. As I propped myself up in bed and opened the magazine, I started to get the feeling that this issue was more than just some Italian recipes compiled together. Just look at the great photo on the ToC page - oranges in red wine. This is so straight out of the 1950s/60s - I can just see my grandfather, Mike, sitting in our backyard, cigarette in hand, peeling the oranges or peaches and dropping them into glasses of red wine. Then holding court with the rest of the family on a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Read Faith Willinger's article on Palermo on pg 34 - you will want to go there. Now. I have always wanted to travel to Sicily, but this article seals it. Sicily is definitely the "hot" area of Italy right now - the January issue of Conde Nast Traveler hails it as "sensational."
I have so many dog-eared pages in this issue I'm not sure what to cook first. From the Orecchiette with Pulled Pork Sugo to the Lemon Pepper Acini Di Pepe, to Chicken Liver Crostini, and finally Broccoli Rabe with Sweet Italian Sausage. It's an embarrassment of riches. Now please understand, my family was certainly not making these kinds of dishes when I was growing up. They were making Fried Artichoke Hearts, and Brasciole with Pork Neck Bones for the Sunday Gravy, fabulous Chicken Cacciatore, and wonderful desserts - courtesy of my mother, grandmother, and aunts - all first or second generation Italian-Americans. Sometimes when I think of them, it's like viewing my early life through a Francis Ford Coppola movie - all sepia tones - the women cooking up a storm, the men playing cards, and the children running around.
I suspect many of you are Gourmet subscribers, but if not, I urge you to buy this issue. Yes, it's a fabulous issue of wonderful recipes and stories. But when you read "A Family Affair" on pg 58 or "My Inner Italy" on pg 32, you'll see why this issue tugs at my heart strings. And it's more than just the food. It immediately brings me back to a way of life in an era that is gone forever.