Curious Appetite

food

First Floor of Mercato Centrale in Florence

(photo from google: Top Floor of Mercato Centrale)

Mercato Centrale is a historic food market in the San Lorenzo district of Florence, Italy. The district itself is utterly famous for the leather and tourist trap stands (selling mostly overpriced souvenirs and sometimes poor quality leather goods) lining the streets wrapping around the market. The reason I don’t particularly like these stalls is that they block the way of some truly legitimate foodie joints like Casa del Vino and the historical carb-oasis Forno, not to mention amazing cafes, wine shops and kitchen gadget shops. I think in someways, the mercato centrale is a huge sellout to its historical roots. There still remains some rustic Florentine spirit, amazing fruit and veg vendors, fish mongers, butchers, bakeries and wine shops…not to mention the always valid Nerbone comfort food pitstop which melts my heart with its luscious boiled beef sandwich with hearty Tuscan men serving it up to match and solid greasy spoon primi  (like a rich, ragu’ smothered lasagnole pasta) which washes away any cynicism I may have walked into the market with. Continue Reading

Italian food and wine myths from America that belong in the trash

I realize I take Italian food culture for granted living in Italy and all. Recently I was reminded of such when someone actually told me they were looking for a cooking class in Venice and wanted to learn how to make…not ciccheti. Not a wondrous Venetian fish dish. But pepperoni pizza. That obviously Venice is famous for and my whole pizza eating life has been a lie.

!!!

I wanted to cry, judge and barf all at the same time. But I realized, for the unassuming American tourist or from any culture where the disgusting pepperoni pizza exists, that this is what they actually think is an Italian food- and we can’t judge but just hope to debunk bad myths out there.

Delissio Rising Crust - Pepperoni
DONT eat this in Italy.

It is not. Pepperoni pizza, the pizza with some garbage dough (with 60 ingredients: dough conditioners, glycerides, preservatives, etc) and sliced “Slim Jim” over-nitrated mechanically separated donkey meat is something the industrial food revolution has fooled us into liking. It does not exist in Italy apart from dinky, smelly tourist traps and the frozen section of the supermarket (which are called American pizza funny enough). Ya ya, I’m sure a tasty pepperoni pizza pie exists- but it’s not like a traditional Italian food to learn how to make in Venice! By the way pepperoni pizza can mean pizza with bell peppers as peperoni means bell peppers.

So when you are in Italy- do not ask for pepperoni pizza. Unless you do want peppers- but that’s just boring.

If you must have spicy salami on your pizza, DO ask for pizza con salami piccante or ‘nduja (a very spicy salami that is soft and paste-like from Calabria)

DO eat this in Italy.

The other myth that belongs in the garbage is in the wine department and that is….PINOT GRIGIO!

Yes, of course Pinot Grigio is an Italian product so that is not the myth part. However, most of the white Italian wine in the American mainstream arrives in the form of Pinot Grigio from some crap mass producer and it’s usually hangover-inducing tart lemon acid juice. Virtually every time I am in a wine bar in Florence where the management has the slightest suspicious that tourists will be part of their dining demographic, sad boring commercial Pinot Grigio is on the menu. NOOO!!! Just stop pandering to international tastes! Italy has countless indigenous wine varieties and it’s a shame for wine menus around town to be so homogenous and standard.

So Pinot Grigio is boring UNLESS it comes from a really good producer from the Alto Aldige, the Veneto or even Friuli regions. Or even from a wine region that is not particularly known for it like recently I came across a Pinot Grigio that came from biodynamic vineyards in Montalcino where Brunello grapes are cultivated. <— THAT is justification for trying an interesting pinot grigio. But mainly, seek out a good producer who isn’t mass producing millions of cases for the thirsty unassuming (and unknowing) wine world. Again, what’s the point of having Pinot Grigio everywhere when therein lies much more wine diversity?

So if you are in Italy, don’t let Pinot Grigio be your go-to: branch out! Personally, I prefer mineral-rich wines from Campania (Southern Italy) such as Fiano di Avellino and whites from the Amalfi Coast. You can rarely go wrong with whites from volcanic soiled Etna (Sicily). Perhaps a nutty Tuscan Vernaccia di San Gimignano from Montenidoli. I also love Franciacorta (a sparkling white wine from Lombardy made in the Champagne-style bottle fermentation) and high acidity, food friendly bubbles like Pignoletto and Durello. So you may not agree with me, but I repeat, Pinot Grigio is not all bad! Recently I even gave it a chance with a bottle from the Veneto that was slightly aromatic, pretty juicy with a bright yet dry finish. I paired it with some speck cotto crostini (a type of dried and smoked ham)

Pinot Grigio and Speck- what’s not to like?
pretty good pick from my trusty neighborhood wine shop!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Want a pinot grigio? Fine- just make sure you’re at a good wine bar that procures quality producers and not industrial juice. My message is simple- Pinot Grigio is not the end all, be all of Italian white wines.

In opinionated humurous arrogance,

Curious Appetite

The Peace of Wild Things

THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— Wendell Berry

I would like to know how my readers feel about eating GMOs- so please take 2 seconds to answer. This post was prompted by the latest food documentary GMO OMG. Which, by the way, is probably like the upteenth movie to try to raise awareness of the horrors of GMOs. I don’t know anything, but what I think is that GMOs are a direct attack on the essence of human existence: food.

Take away the environmental, economic and political risks. What you have left is a threat to the agricultural age. Why is this a threat? I don’t know…splicing genes to make corn produce it’s own pesticide? Whatever happened to traditional methods of farming that protect naturally against pests? How is biotechnology going to feed the world, exactly? Why don’t you take the billions of dollars of biotech research and I don’t know…give people food? Stop stealing their land? Stop speculating food and gas prices so that food is accessible other than the dollar meal at McDonald’s- which BTW is the real destination for GMO corn (not these starving children the biotech industry claims to be feeding). Don’t people realize that to genetically engineer agriculture…takes resources in itself? Clean water and electricity to run the facility? Plastics which end up in the trash or demand petrol? The world is a never ending paradox!

What I will say is that at a certain point, food as we know it will cease to exist. Soylent Green will become a reality. I bet many of my readers will have an argument for GMOs.

Go ahead, allow these corporate entities destroy human agriculture and mute our voices (see Perry Schmeiser case) . Let’s see how the future feels about that.

Whoopdeedoooooooo!

Yours in cynical sarcasm,

Curious Appetite

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