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« IMBB XVII: Earl Gray infused apricots with cardamon pastry cream tart | Main | 86 the fish fingers, dad. »

August 05, 2005


clare eats

That was fabulous Alberto..... I would love everyone..... why is Australia soooooo far away :( I definately think I am going to do al of them before I die!

I am going to be sending your incredibly late parcel on monday.... and I was wondering if you managed to get any belacan?

If you love sea urchin roe you would love sydney!!!


I have eaten 9 of the ten things you mentioned, with the exception of the caciocavali, I don't think I have ever encountered it. And the sea urchin roe, is a tough one for me, being Chinese and living in Seattle, I have had great sushi and live too but the texture is something I can't handle. Am I a wimp? Ha! Ha! Maybe if I try them in Puglia I will have a different experience. Take care.


Hi Alberto,
wonderful post! You named all my favorite Italian "food elements" and many more! Pasta burro e parmigiano is my all-time favorite comfort food after a stressful day of work. And since we discovered the real thing - thick, viscous, dark aged balsamico, we almost fight over it each time we use it. The one who gets to drizzle it, always is the one to catch the few last drops slowly running down the side of the bottle (the design of the bottle wasn't really thought through, it is a real challenge to only pour small amounts of this lucious liquid ;)...


Clare, from all that I've heard I'm sure I would love Sidney and who knows, maybe the future might bring me to Austrlaia :-). I'll eagerly wait for the parcel, and yes I did manage to find some belecan, or better a friend bought it for me while on holiday in Holland but I still haven't put my hands on it.

Gia, I was wondring abouth the texture of the roe. I've heard this comment before and always was puzzled by it. Could it be that Pacific ocean's sea urchins have a different kind of roe? Mediterranean sea urchin roe has a creamy melt in your mouth texture, so almost no texture to speak of.

Nicky, you got me smiling there! I know very weel what you mean with that last drop... that's why I always pour the balsamico myself ;-).


Buon giorno Alberto,
The larger urchins I have eaten, in Seattle and in Japan are just that LARGE. The roe "in actuality the gonads" of the urchin were big and I had a hard time stuffing one piece into my mouth. Also there is more of a visible, stripping or bumpiness to the larger ones. I can describe it by comparing fegato di vitello to fegato di manzo. One is smoother and the other looks like it has cirrhosis. This also I have a hard time eating but love foi gras and pates. Go figure!


Just found your site, and I am in love! The way you speak of Italian foods expresses my every thought and feeling about them. What a find this is! I'm fortunate enough to have experienced 5 of your top 10, but there's always time to go back to enjoy Italy again and again and again! I only wish I had known "the right place" to get the balsamico last week. I stopped short of Modena, cutting over to Parma from Mantova instead. But the foods in Parma! Like manna from heaven. Keep up the great work.


Hello Alberto!

Your post has made me homesick for Campania and it isn't even my birth home. My father was stationed at the Naval station in Naples in the mid '70's for three years and we were fortunate enough to live in a vila in Pinetemare instead of the military quarters. My absolute love of Italian cooking, produce, meats and cheeses stems from this experience. Though I can say that if I had had to visit Pompeii one more time when relatives came to visit, I might have screamed. =)


Cari,I'm flattered by your comments and should you ever need another reason to go back to Italy just let me know. Choosing "only" 10 food items was actually quite hard. My original list had more like 30-40 on it!

Sarah, as an adopitve Neapolitan living abroad I perfectly understand what you mean... especially the Pompeii thing ;-).


Having eaten just a few of the items on that list I now have yet another reason to head for Italy again.Yum.

In Pune, India,Italian food is the latest big thing. A new restaurant mushrooms every few months.They are popular because they have a lot of vegetarian food on their menus and the tastes are not entirely alien to the local population.By the way I am not talking of just pizza here.
And this change it hasnt happened because an Italian became the head of the Congress Party!

You know I always think of Goethe's comment in his 'Italian Journey' which had some bearing on the reality of Italy in the 19th century..that Italian cuisine had its roots in poverty.( I do not subscribe to his slight note of denigration though.I think it lead to great inventiveness.)The use of grasses and herbs to flavour a plain pasta reminds me so much of the way herbs and greens are used here to go with rice or ragi.



On a trip to Italy with my high school students, we ate in a pizzeria outside the ruins of Pompeii and had pizza out of a wood-fired oven. Simple: crust, tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and a couple of basil leaves. One of my students raved. He said it was the best meal (not the best pizza, mind you), yes, the best meal he had ever eaten.

That experience convinced me to look for a way to build a wood-fired oven on campus, which we did just before traveling to Italy again this past year.

I used the oven from this website:


For many reasons it did not work perfectly, but I intend to try again this year.

Bravissimo to your post. I will attempt to complete the quest some day, some way.


PS Granita in Capri was unforgettable...


Dave, anyone who has the guts and dedication to build their own brick oven earns all my respect. I wish I was so brave (or mad ;-) ).

deccanheffalump, I definitely agree that most of Italian cooking has its roots in poverty and inventiveness, something that has created some original, delicious and at times unforgettable dishes. On the other hand since Italy was made up of so many separate states till the late XIX century you also have quite a few unique "rich" dishes. These were often copied or simplified by the normal people who wanted to imitate the fashion of the nobilty. Considering the history of the many local "kingdoms" you have had in India I was wondering if there is a similar phenomenon over there.


Ciao, Alberto, I found this post linked from another food blog. What lovely writing. I cannot wait to return to Italia.


Ciao Tana, thank you for the nice words and I wish you (and me too actually) to be soon back in Italy... just another three weeks here :-).

Michael aldridge

At our local Italian restaurant they have a great custom of placing a bowl of garlic spiced olive oil on the table and some chunks of bread. You then tear pieces off and dunk them in the oil and eat while waiting for your meal. It's at least something you can do at home when you have a special Italian meal and guests love the idea.

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