Posts Tagged With: Italian Cooking Classes

Time travel through your taste buds


You’ve seen lots of folks “cry in their beer.”  But, I’m willing to bet that I’m the only person on the planet seen crying over cooked pig’s feet.  As I slurped the meat and fat off the bones cooked to perfection in parrozz, I could feel my nonna hugging me and hear the squabbling of my Italo-Americano family fill the Flagtown farmhouse kitchen. Parrozz- what the heck is parrozz? Thank you Angelamaria Addona of B&B Calvello for whisking me – and our group of Cooking in the Kitchens of Pontelandolfo September 2017 cooks – back in time.  To the time when subsistence farming, foraging and eating every single bit of the animal you raised was the norm.

Kathy, one of my best foodie buds, couldn’t believe it when I called her about this dish. I literally had started crying when I ate it and when I talked about it. Crying for my Nonna Rosa, Zia Caterina and all the elders of my family who not only had made this dish after foraging for dandelions and wild fennel but passed me the mapeen so I could wipe my hands on the communal towel after sucking the meat off every bone in my bowl.  Pig parts and weeds, I said to Kathy. Pig parts and weeds – so delicious that I could have stayed at B&B Calvello long after the van came to pick up the American cooks and kept on eating. Kathy suggested that I stop calling the dish “pig parts and weeds”. In dialect it is called Parrozz con Cacchiarella!

In her turn of the 20th century kitchen, Angela made parrozz  – vegetable and meat soup/stew – and cacchiarella – unleavened corn bread. Parrozz con cacchiarella is a dish that dates back to the time my ancestors scampered over our Sannio hills searching for what today’s foodies call edibles.

2010-06-15 10.16.05

If you are not afraid to forage, here is how you make it. Go out in the field and pick what ever vegetable green is in season. Verdure di compagnia– greens from the countryside. She used the white part of bietola, which is in the rhubarb family.  Cicoria, chicory, was raising its green head on the countryside so that was the second veggie. She washed the veggies and cut them in big chunks. They were tossed in a pot and covered with water with a dash of salt. When the water came to a boil the veggies simmered for half an hour.

Angela cooked some local cabbage leaves while pig parts were cooking away in yet another pot.  These are the parts of the pig I LOVE  – pig’s ear, feet, cheeks etc. Boiling softens them and lets some of the grease out. After the pork had cooked, she tossed out most of the water and layered the cooked vegetables on top of the pork pieces. Chunks of garlic were tossed into the fray. Do not mix it up! Top it with the pre-cooked cabbage. Think of this as a green lid. Toss a wee bit of salt on top and a tiny bit of olive oil. Not a lot since the pig parts are full of fat. Cover the pot and cook it very slowly on a low heat. It is great with wild fennel – but they weren’t in season now – so Angela added fennel seeds.

A wee bit later, Angela took the lid off the parrozz to let the extra water evaporate. She lowered the flame even more and pushed the cabbage down on in the pot. Do not turn the pot! The pig parts stay on the bottom and the vegetables stay on the top! The minestra will be bubbling, you will smell the pork and veggies and keep on wanting to stir it up.  DON’T!  Leave the pot alone and let it simmer along until the weeds – oops – I mean greens are cooked and the scent of pork wafts through the kitchen.

When the liquid comes to the top and the veggies sink. Turn it off!!! It is finished. But what about the cornbread called Cacchiarella?  You would have been working on it while the soup/stew was bubbling away.

The first step to making the cacchiarella made no sense to me – until my ah ha moment later. Take giant cabbage leaves and cut off the bottoms and slit the core a wee bit. Wet them and put them in the sun so that they will wilt and get flat. Then go out to the fields and cut some sambuca tree branches to make a broom. Why? You will of course be using a wood burning oven and need the broom to push the coals back to the side while maintaining the temperature of the oven. Wet a second broom to really clean the base of the oven. Oops, guess I forgot to mention that Angela’s kitchen has a wood burning oven and stove!

Back to the corn bread. Make a flat circle out of four or five flattened cabbage leaves. Flatten them further. They are now the tray or parchment paper for the corn bread. The corn bread she made with our Cooking in the Kitchens of Pontelandolfo cooks included 600 ML of water, 1 kilogram of corn meal, 4 spoons of salt – well they were spoons, a hand full of wild fennel seeds and 3 tablespoons of olive oil.  Knead it up!  Take your aggressions out on the dough! Meanwhile, for a few hours your wood burning oven has been filling the air with the scent of days gone bye. Oh, only use olive tree wood in the oven and when the bricks turn white sweep the coals over to one side with a broom made with sambuca leaves.  Then take the dough and spread it out on the cabbage leaves and with your handy pizza peel slide it into the prepared wood burning oven.  Wheeeooo, this is a lot of work.  Watch it rise and fall and turn a golden brown.   Then pull it out and remove the cabbage leaves – let it cool a second or more first.  Rip up the corn bread and add it to the top of the soup/stew pot.  Serve it immediately and watch me salivate. Watch the tape and enjoy.

 

You too can learn traditional Southern Italian cooking.  Join us.

Cooking in the Kitchens of Pontelandolfo May 19 -26 and September 8-15, 2018

For more information, send an email to info@nonnasmulberrytree.com.

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Categories: Food - Eating In and Out! | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Cooking in the Kitchens of Pontelandolfo a HIT!!!!

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Mary, Leona, Ellie, Lynn, Dana, Flora, Charleen and Nancy
Cook in the Kitchen’s of Pontelandolfo!

WOW what a jam packed week of great food, incredible women and a village that opened its hearts and buildings to embrace the Americans who came to Cook in the Kitchen’s of Pontelandolfo! The families that opened their kitchens loved the experience so much that we are going to offer the program again this September.

I had this fantasy that every night I would regale you with the tales of what happened that day.  Who the women were, what we learned how to cook, what we ate, what, what, what….  Sigh…. I tried, I really did but at the end of the day all I could do was crawl into bed and get ready for the next day’s adventure.  Oooo – how could you think I didn’t try – look here is a couple of paragraphs on Day 1!

Le Donne Vengono Oggi

Hotel ready – check!  Wait – will they be hungry?
Rosella remembered that if people were coming at 1:00 PM they would need lunch. We raced to Il Forno and bought panini and cookies. Then on to the fruit and vegetable truck for tons of fresh fruit. Then on to the the Mini Market for water, plates and napkins. Then on to the B&B – for – for – Waiting.  We set up our welcome table and our swag bags and waited.  The five women from Rome didn’t get here when we thought they would. Jack and one of our translators, Annarita were sitting in front of Bar Elimar to flag them down. I was afraid they would be drunk by the time the women came.  Rats – it is 2:00 PM – where are they?   2:10 – Jack called – they are here!

What a great group of women! An extended family full of love, laughter and spark. We got folks settled in their rooms making sure that Mary – the groups catalyst – had a great room with the mountain view. Within minutes she had posted the view on Facebook. Yes!


Nicola had taken our slick 9 passenger Ducati Fiat plumino to Benevento. He was waiting for the two women from Milan via Naples. My stomach was in knots hoping that they made their connection in Naples – I’m guessing since they only had 20 minutes that their stomachs were in knots too. Rossella was calm. I was pretending to be calm. Finally, I got a text. They are here! Then I got a call – we are in a bar waiting for the passenger from Firenze via Rome.

Meanwhile, I did my dancing bear act and reviewed the agenda with the first group – encouraged them to eat the fruit, cookies and sandwiches – even though they had stopped on the highway. Rosella said I was very professional!

That is all I wrote in 16 days!  Me who is the blabber blogger only wrote a measly few words.  What I did do was shoot lots of video on my fancy HD video camera, scribbled frantic notes during every cooking lesson and made sure that the eight adventurous American women who wanted to live the life of a small Southern Italian village had a great time.  I promise that recipes will be posted, videos will be edited and you will all know more about this glorious week.  Here is a quick little video that highlights our wonderful First – Cooking in the Kitchens of Pontelandolfo week. (There is more to read after the video.)    Click Here For Video

Stolen from the Pontelandolfo News who stole them from Facebook – are what some of the women said about the experience –

Dana got an “A” for best sausage making! We started out with a side of pork and culminated into a delicious meal!! Grazie Mille Franco and Maria for opening your home and hearts to us.

I am in awe learning how to roll dough for pasta. No words needed. Grazie Maria!

Each day our hearts are filled with the love of the women of Pontelandolfo. Today, group A spent the day with Carmela Fusco, who we knew we loved before we met her, because her daughters have been helping us all week. We made homemade cavatelli with a meat sauce, eggplant with fresh tomatoes, fruit salad and a beautiful nutella pastry! 

Today we made pizza in the brick oven with Nicola and tiramisu. He is a very special man and made our last day a perfect one. I think we were all a little tired today, but we still ended on a high note at his beautiful home. Grazie Mille Nicola!

Tonight we must say goodbye to all the wonderful people we’ve met.
Midge Guerrera has given us the opportunity to become a part of the beautiful town of Pontelandolfo for a week and we are forever grateful.

It has been an amazing week and anyone who has been following us should seriously consider coming when Midge offers this again. The village has embraced us with open arms and lots of fun.

Now, how could I not announce right here for the very first time – the Second Cooking in the Kitchens of Pontelandolfo adventure will be September 3 – 10 2016!  This fall – imagine Labor Day Weekend here in Pontelandolfo!  For information leave a comment.

Ci vediamo!


Categories: Any Day in Pontelandolfo, Food - Eating In and Out! | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

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