#213 I miss Italian creative scaramanzia – 5

Torri (‘towers’).

There are many in Italy. San Gimignano has 72 of them

Bologna used to have 180, but many had been destroyed…

Some Italian towers are very famous…

La torre di Pisa

La torre della Garisenda and la torre degli Asinelli in Bologna

And many are the superstitions connected with them.

In Pisa they say that you will never graduate from College if you climb the stairs of the tower. Same thing for the Campanile di Giotto in Firenze.

Same thing in Bologna, never climb the Torre degli Asinelli!

(See also “I miss Italian creative scaramanzia 1-2-3-4




https://misshome.wordpress.com/2013/12/29/180-i-miss-italian-creative-scaramanzia-4/ )


#212 I miss gnocchi – 1

Gnocchi, one of the most popular and most mispronounced Italian food ever.

But no worries gli gnocchi is an actual tongue-twister, many Italians are not able to pronounce this expression as well.

Lo gnocco is the singular form, and the example I always use while teaching Italian articles.

A food probably originated in the Middle East and introduced in Italy by the Romans at the time of their expansion, is a soft pasta made from semolina, regular flour, potatoes, or bread, with eggs, cheese and other ingredients. As other Italian foods there are many regional variants.

The most common type now a days is the gnocchi di patate (‘potatoes gnocchi’).

Gnocchi making is normally a team work, and an excellent way to involve husband and kids in cooking. First you prepare a dough with boiled mashed potatoes and eggs, then you rolled it in little dowels, then you cut them in little pieces, finally roll each piece on a fork or concave side of cheese grater or the specific gnocchi-tool in the picture below.

Cook them in boiling water and rinse them as soon as they float, using a perforated spoon.

Serve immediately, no matter what.

There are many possible dressing:

Burro e salvia: simple and delicious


Pomodoro e basilico: mon amour

Gnocchi alla sorrentina (Sorrento style): pomodoro e basilico, gratin with mozzarella

Ragù: who doesn’t like it?

Sugo di funghi: mushroom sauce (with fresh or dryed mushrooms)

Pesto: another big classic 

Gnocchi ai quattro formaggi: anything is better with cheese

#211 I miss 100(and more) shades of pizza – 2

The history of pizza is long, complicated, and controversial.

The neapolitan word pinsa, from the Latin verb pinsere ‘to push, to press’, probably comes from Greek pita, word still used in Greece and in the Balkans.

The Romans prepared a focaccia with cheese, still common in the Middle Ages; the word pizza appeared for the first time in a document written in 997 AD in Gaeta. The evolution from the medieval focaccia to the pizza napoletana is not clear, in Napoli pizza but it was a popular food, especially among lower and poorest classes, in medieval and early modern times.

The original recipe do not include tomato sauce since tomatoes were introduced in Europe only after 1492.

But apparently, before pizza napoletana, there was pizza genovese!

Prepared for the first time in 1490, named pizza d’Andrea after admiral Andrea Doria, who loved it, exported then in France, where it was called Pizzalandereia and then Pissaladière, now a typical in Nice and dans la Cote d’Azur.

Pizza or Focaccia genovese, with onions, olives, cheese, anchovies


XV and XVI century sources describe a focaccia with cheese, basil, and black pepper, probably the first version of Pizza napolitana; tomato became part of the recipe in XVIII century.

Pizza became so popular that even the Royal House of Savoia knew it; in 1889 pizzaiolo Raffaele Esposito created a special one, named after queen Margerita di Savoia, to celebrate the newly introduced green-white-red flag.

And here’s Pizza Margherita, the queen of pizze!

(See also “I miss 100(and more) shades of pizza – 1” https://misshome.wordpress.com/2014/01/25/207-i-miss-100and-more-shades-of-pizza/ )

#210 I miss minestre – 2

His royal majesty il minestrone

the golden rule is: you can use any vegetable you have, my grandmother’s rule: if you don’t have it, you don’t need it

But for a good minestrone you really need at least, onions, carrots, celery, potatoes, zucchini, spinach, a spoon of tomato sauce or a fresh tomato in the summer. A leaf of cabbage, and some beetroots, even better. A slice of pumpkin when is the season. Peas and beans if you want them.

With or without pasta. Maccheroncini, spaghetti (in little pieces) or pastina

In Tuscany they add cavolo nero and chickpeas

In Liguria they add a spoon of pesto

In Lombardia they use rice instead of pasta

(See also “I miss minestre – 1 https://misshome.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/206-i-miss-minestre-1/ )

#209 I miss corredo – 1

Corredo ‘trousseau’ is an ancient tradition.

In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance the most important Italian artists made and decorated wonderful nuptial chests…

At the times of our great-grandmothers a good corredo includes dozens of tablecloths, bedsheets, towels…

Mothers and grandmothers used to gave you a tablecloth as a birthday present, instead of a doll, when you where 10 y.o.

Women used to meet to sew and embroider items for the corredo,

My mom still has an entire closet full of white bedsheets and towels.

#208 I miss home made bread -1

Ah the smell of a kitchen after a good loaf of bread comes out of the oven!

I have no problems with bread machines, but nothing is like a good HAND- made bread come Dio comanda (‘as God commands’).

15-20 minutes to make the dough

leavening time: 2 hours

40 min. in the oven at 250°C

(See also “I miss pane -1” https://misshome.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=94&action=edit&message=1 )

#207 I miss 100(and more) shades of Pizza -1

I met a guy from Chicago once.

He says something like “Oh, pizza here in Midwest depresses the Hell out of me”

I watched at him and replied “Seriously?”

“Yes, why?”

“Dude, are you really saying that… TO ME?”

“AH! Right You’re Italian!”


I miss pizza, needles to say. But what I really miss is the variety of pizze (plural).

Pizza al taglio (‘on the slice’, but slide is not accurate, a tranciois not necessarily a slice… )

Pizza al metro ‘on the meter’

Pizzette fritte (‘fried mini-pizza’)

or just pizza