Sunday 4 March 2007

Older than I thought....

Idle curiosity prompted me to check the alla sarda sauce from Dario's dinner, and I looked it up in the the bible ne plus ultra of Italian Cooking: Il Grande Libro della Cucina Italiana of Alessandro Molinaro Pradelli. Essentially, Pradelli confirmed the ingredients and method for the sauce itself, but he described it as being more normally used in a baked pasta dish, rather than merely being added to pasta that has been cooked in a saucepan in the usual way. He talks of a dish where the sauce is layered between a number of layers of cooked pasta - a macaroni type of pasta, not a lasagne type - and the finished dish is then baked in the oven. In Greece this would be instantly recognisable as a Pasticcio, which immediately places the provenence of the dish in Italy much, much earlier than the arab presence in Sicily, and instead suggests the Greek colonisation of Magna Graecia, almost a thousand years earlier.

More personally, it brings to mind the summer I spent as a tour-guide in the Peloponnese, and Maria's Taverna in Corinth, where we always stopped for lunch on the first day of the tour out from Athens. Invariably, the weather was beautiful, and lunch was taken with the doors wide open onto the square outside, which became ever more lazily somnulent as the lunch hour progressed. And we always had Pasticcio, creamy and filling and inches thick, washed down with quantities of local wine, poured straight from the jug. Happy memories......

Tonight's Menu:

Scrambled Eggs with Smoked Salmon

Roast Beef, with a dish of Leeks and Mushroom in saffron

Chocolate Crepes filled with Pears and Brandy (See below for the recipe)

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