May 6, 2013

Italian Lessons

To paraphrase the old rhyme, “One panino, two panini, three panini, four….etc”.  Likewise, “One raviolo, two ravioli, three ravioli four…..etc”.  In Italian, the plural form of most nouns ends in “i”, so if you go to a place (say, like Starbucks) and someone asks you if you want to buy a “panini” I recommend you buy the “panino”, because they’re really quite good, and reflect on the fact that even a huge and hyper-successful corporation like Starbucks can get simple foreign grammar wrong.

 

In our Cooking for Life series we strive for accuracy and fidelity to all the nuances and details of our recipes so that our junior chefs get an authentic experience and not a half-baked “light” version. To that end in this weeks class we’re going to make ravioli stuffed with pumpkin which is flavored with sage, a traditional Northern Italian combination.  We’ll use wonton wrappers, which work wonderfully well to make the ravioli and are even used by housewives in Italy for that purpose because they’re thinner and lighter than usual ravioli dough.  Once made our ravioli will be boiled in salted water until they float, drained, and combined with a sage sauce. Finally we’ll grate some fresh Parmesan on them and eat them hot.

 

In Italy the pumpkin ravioli would be a “primo”, a first course. It would be followed by a protein and a veg. Since we don’t have time for a two-course meal we’ll have our protein along with our ravioli: grilled tilapia with a mango chutney. Grilling a relatively delicate fish is an art our junior chefs need to learn because grilling imparts such a good flavor and texture to an ingredient that is—let’s be honest—not on everyone’s top five list. The chutney will seal the deal, providing acidity and lots of taste.  We’ll also have a sautéed green spritzed with lemon. We’ll need the sour to balance the sweetness of the pumpkin and the fruitiness of the mango.

And so we’ll make our meal incorporating all the basics of most Italian cooking: simplicity, balance, and healthfulness. Buon Appetito!

To paraphrase the old rhyme, “One panino, two panini, three panini, four….etc”.  Likewise, “One raviolo, two ravioli, three ravioli four…..etc”.  In Italian, the plural form of most nouns ends in “i”, so if you go to a place (say, like Starbucks) and someone asks you if you want to buy a “panini” I recommend you buy the “panino”, because they’re really quite good, and reflect on the fact that even a huge and hyper-successful corporation like Starbucks can get simple foreign grammar wrong.

 

In our Cooking for Life series we strive for accuracy and fidelity to all the nuances and details of our recipes so that our junior chefs get an authentic experience and not a half-baked “light” version. To that end in this weeks class we’re going to make ravioli stuffed with pumpkin which is flavored with sage, a traditional Northern Italian combination.  We’ll use wonton wrappers, which work wonderfully well to make the ravioli and are even used by housewives in Italy for that purpose because they’re thinner and lighter than usual ravioli dough.  Once made our ravioli will be boiled in salted water until they float, drained, and combined with a sage sauce. Finally we’ll grate some fresh Parmesan on them and eat them hot.

 

In Italy the pumpkin ravioli would be a “primo”, a first course. It would be followed by a protein and a veg. Since we don’t have time for a two-course meal we’ll have our protein along with our ravioli: grilled tilapia with a mango chutney. Grilling a relatively delicate fish is an art our junior chefs need to learn because grilling imparts such a good flavor and texture to an ingredient that is—let’s be honest—not on everyone’s top five list. The chutney will seal the deal, providing acidity and lots of taste.  We’ll also have a sautéed green spritzed with lemon. We’ll need the sour to balance the sweetness of the pumpkin and the fruitiness of the mango.

 

And so we’ll make our meal incorporating all the basics of most Italian cooking: simplicity, balance, and healthfulness. Buon Appetito!

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