Tripe: the not so favourite ingredient

Tripe. The very word itself usually causes a scrunched-up face on the person whose ears have been subjected to the offensive word. What exactly is it about the suggestion of tripe,  or any sort of offal for that matter, that causes such displeasure? Is it because it’s identified more closely to its origins than, say, processed ham or a hamburger? Surely that’s a good thing – knowing where your food comes from and what exactly is in it. Ok,... Read More

Artusi’s July: Raspberry Acetosa

July in Tuscany. The heat is the sort that you cannot get away from. If you live in the city, it’s especially unbearable. Hot African wind blows its way into cities, heating them up like a giant hairdryer. The ancient stones of the palazzi and squares bake in the sun and the heat lingers on for hours after midnight. Anyone smart and organised enough has escaped to the sea or the mountains. Those who haven’t, can’t or are waiting until the traditional... Read More

Artusi’s June: Sour Cherry and Cinnamon Sorbet

As the weather warms up, almost every Italian begins thinking of ending their dinner with a stroll down to the local gelateria, a sun-soaked ritual which no doubt goes back to their childhoods. My mother in law recalls Sunday afternoon treats when her father would take her to the gelateria to choose from one of the two handmade gelato flavours on offer: plain cream or chocolate. In Artusi’s much-loved cookbook, he has two menus suggested for the... Read More

Artusi’s May: Tuscan Chicken Liver Pate

Artusi’s May: Tuscan chicken liver pate If there was one defining Tuscan recipe for me it might just be the recipe for chicken liver pate served on crostini, generally known in Italian as Crostini di Fegatini, Crostini Neri or Crostini Toscani. This favourite Tuscan antipasto is rustic, tasty, cheap and sensible (why throw away a perfectly good part of the chicken?) and it features on the menu of literally every trattoria in Tuscany, not to mention... Read More

Rose petal Jam from a Venetian monastery

Waking up on the Armenian monastery of the Island of San Lazzaro, floating in the mist of the Venetian lagoon, is like waking into a dream itself. Water softly laps around the edges of the monastery and that is about all you can hear except for the occasional speed boat on its way to the Lido. I spent several weeks here over two years during my days interning as an art restorer. While I worked on the flooded etchings and photographs (one of the downsides... Read More

Artusi’s April: Gnocchi alla Romana

As Easter normally falls in April, Artusi‘s reliable suggestions for this month’s Italian menu consist of plenty of dishes that you could traditionally find on an Easter table, including the ones that Italians call “magro” or lean, in other words, fish or vegetables (but no meat), the diet to be followed on Good Friday. Among a list of some of my favourite Spring dishes such as artichoke tart, fava beans served raw, Easter lamb, chocolate... Read More

Artusi’s March: Recipe from a Tuscan Monastery

Pellegrino Artusi’s suggestions for lunch in March include this curious dish, Zuppa alla Certosina, a fish and tomato soup that is plumped up with an “egg-drop” finish. It’s a dish that originated in a monastery (as it’s name suggests), so it’s not something you’ll find on trattoria menus these days, but my mother-in-law remembers her mother making a similar dish when she was young – a soup known as Stracciatella, where an egg beaten... Read More

Crostata di Marmellata

The crostata is one of those much-loved homemade baked goods that comes in many forms and varieties that many Italians grew up with. These days you can find them in every single bar or café in Florence and Tuscany, usually a version filled with apricot jam or blackberry jam, to be eaten with a cappuccino for your breakfast or mid-morning snack. The crostata di marmellata is one of those things that every now and then the sweet tooth in me totally... Read More

Artusi’s February: Agnolotti

I noticed that this month’s list of Artusi’s suggestions for the perfect lunch included Agnolotti (Artusi spells it “Agnellotti”), a traditional meat-filled pasta from Le Langhe in Piemonte, a gorgeous region in the north western corner of Italy for which I have a soft spot. Home to famous red wines such as Barolo and Barbaresco, the hearty, country dishes speak of the land, the hills and the traditions of the area. The restaurant of the historic... Read More

Artusi’s January: Biancomangiare

Artusi’s cookbook is probably the first book I pick up to check a recipe, which is not always convenient seeing as it was written in 1891 and some of the methods, ingredients and techniques described just can’t be produced the same way over a century later. But it is somehow still current. I mean, his recipes are still the best traditional recipes. And with his witty anecdotes and practical recipes, it is actually a very good read. It’s an... Read More