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ekscrunchy, koreaprincess and franco invite you to join them expanding on the secrets of Italian cuisine

ekscrunchy, koreaprincess and franco invite you to join them expanding on the secrets of Italian cuisine

Old Mar 20th, 2007, 08:34 AM
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ekscrunchy, koreaprincess and franco invite you to join them expanding on the secrets of Italian cuisine

Behind us are weeks of fascinating & funny explorations of Italian food, cuisine & recipes, with ekscrunchy, Eloise and franco as the original cast, and recently - since Eloise hasn't unfortunately been around for quite a while - with koreaprincess as a new companion on our virtual gastronomic tours. Till now, though, these gastronomic chats have been scattered over the whole Italian forum, so we've now decided to open a specific thread - not for restaurant recommendations in the first place (though we wouldn't exclude them, I guess), but for questions of Italian home-cooking, particular ingredients, recipe exchange and so on, exploring these topics quite in-depth, and without any reluctance to lead the discussion off-topic - at least, that's our habit of discussing these matters so far, and while we thought for a long while to be all alone in (immensely) enjoying these conversations, quite many other users admitted over the time that they were following, too - silently, unfortunately.

Well, for Roman and Venetian food, we're having our proved and tested threads (where much of our exploration of Italian cuisine originated), which are still going strong, and the new thread is not meant to change this - here are the links to those original threads:
ROME:
ek's gastronomic Rome trip - preparation (don't let the thread's title confuse you): http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...p;tid=34895007
ek's wonderful trip report: http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...p;tid=34931625
franco's favourite Roman food (& restaurants): http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...p;tid=34792415
VENICE:
franco's favourite Venetian food (& restaurants): http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...p;tid=34791666

For the "small" rest of Italy, though, we thought it might be a good idea to bundle all gastronomic questions & answers, and to make them more easily traceable for you others - we do hope this will help, firstly, to convince Eloise to rejoin us, and secondly, to make our conversation enjoy the participation of many more users who didn't chime in so far!!
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Old Mar 20th, 2007, 11:07 AM
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Thanks! ttt.
 
Old Mar 20th, 2007, 11:48 AM
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Bookmarking - thanks!
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Old Mar 20th, 2007, 12:07 PM
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My partner just made the most delicious pasta dish the other day. He made fresh parpadelle and dressed it with caramelized parsnips, crispy guancale(sp) and pecorino. The "sauce" was the rendered fat from the guancale. It was very good, if a bit on the dry side. The parsnips were sweet and were a great counter to the salty pig meat. My question is: Are parsnips a commonly used vegetable in any Italian regional food?

-Bill
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Old Mar 20th, 2007, 12:33 PM
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Bill, I think I read that parsnips are fed to the pigs that make Parma ham. Parsnips have been cooked in Europe for centuries--the ancient Romans used to get them from Germany.

I'm vegetarian and by no means an Italian food expert so hopefully others will chime in about current useage. Now I want to make roasted parsnips, carrots, and fennel...
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Old Mar 20th, 2007, 12:44 PM
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Well, I am no expert but I have never seen parsnips, either in Italy or in an Italian cookbook. But certainly the Italian tradition would be to use the best of the freshest seasonal ingredients, so...
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Old Mar 20th, 2007, 12:55 PM
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This is great!
I'll look in the English version of the Silver Spoon italian cookbook for parsnips.
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Old Mar 20th, 2007, 12:58 PM
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Check it out and let us know..I do not see it in Marcella Hazan. On a related note, I don't really see carrots used much as a stand-alone ingredient in Italian cooking, either, but you do see them used, I think, in the base for dishes like coda alla vaccinara and other meat-based dishes.
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Old Mar 20th, 2007, 01:11 PM
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ekscrunchy, a belated thanks to you for the tip in your excellant report about garum. I'm going to look for it in Rome next month since it'll make a great prezzie for my foodie friends. (BTW, zingermans.com has it but it's $35 for 100ml.)

Back to parsnips: I just pulled out one of our parsnip recipes (from consciouschoice.com) and according to the author, Terra Brockman, in The Roman Cookery of Apicius you can find "such tasty delights as parsnips simmered in white wine and olive oil, parsnips with cumin and chives, and a vegetarian sausage made from boiled parsnips pounded with cooked spelt, eggs, nuts, pepper, and stock, then roasted in casing and served up with wine sauce."

Looking forward to hearing about the present day situation...Fodor's is a strange and wonderful place.
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Old Mar 20th, 2007, 02:30 PM
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Those lucky pigs! Actually we are the lucky ones because we get to eat the pigs.

Parsnips in Italian is pastinaca. I'll have to look for it as I am salivating on the menus of the restaurants we'll be eating at in Rome in two weeks.

Bill
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Old Mar 20th, 2007, 02:31 PM
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Parsnips? Never seen in Italy! And it's also not true that they were common in Roman antiquity - Apicius has no more than three recipes (which is like nothing in his huge cookbook) for "carrots or parsnips", so he doesn't even make a difference between them (carrots, too, are fairly uncommon with Apicius). And no, these are NOT the three recipes you've found, mvor, sorry: those seem to be inventions of Mrs. Brockman (whom I don't know - I'm not a cookbook expert, but sort of an Apicius expert, since ancient Roman cuisine is one of my greatest passions).

Carrots, in modern Italy, go into many soffritti - the classic soffritto consists of onions and celery, but other vegetables may go into it, and the most frequently encountered are garlic and carrots. (A soffritto, for those who don't know yet, is a preparation of minced vegetables fried in fat, mostly of course in olive oil, most Italian recipes would start out with - in fact, starting out with a soffritto is one of the main characteristics of Italian cuisine, and one of the few that are characteristic for all Italian regions with their otherwise so extremely diverse cuisines... but the soffritto is what most Italian recipes would start out with, all over Italy.)
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Old Mar 20th, 2007, 02:33 PM
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I've read that parsnips though not served in Italy but are fed to pigs to produce the best Parma ham.
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Old Mar 20th, 2007, 02:46 PM
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I guess that's why I've never seen parsnips in Italy - nobody so far planned on making Parma ham of me Seriously, that's an interesting information, and I didn't know.
But what I wanted to add, for Bill, on the question of rather dry pasta sauce - a solution would be to work part of the parsnips into a cream with some bechamel sauce, and work the guanciale fat into it... that would be similar to what I'm doing with Jerusalem artichokes, a pasta sauce as well (I'm not a big parsnip buff, I must admit). The crispy part, in this case, are thin slices of raw Jerusalem artichoke. The effect is similar to what you are describing, sweet (the Jerusalem artichoke cream) and crispy. The third ingredient, in my case, is not cheese, however - here it goes with prawns.
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Old Mar 20th, 2007, 02:52 PM
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Thanks. Well, that was fun. I wonder how a soffritto made with parsnips instead of carrots would change a dish?

franco, I had some of the pasta leftovers for lunch today and I added some cream and a little chicken stock and it worked like a charm! Very good.

Bill
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Old Mar 20th, 2007, 03:21 PM
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Hi Franco, I swear I remember reading that Tiberius was very fond of parsnips? Perhaps that's just vegetarian propaganda... I knew as a vegetarian and a non-cook that I should have stayed out of this thread. Anyway, what did Apicius recommend that we do with the parsnips/carrots?

Bill, enjoy your trip to Roma!

Now I'll have to be on the lookout for garum AND parsnips when we go to Rome in April...It's a tough job but I believe I will persevere.

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Old Mar 20th, 2007, 03:51 PM
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Stay out?? Why? No!! This is not a thread for carnivores only... I don't know anything about the Tiberius-parsnips-relation, but maybe he was fond of them, why not? They were uncommon, but not unknown.
The three recipes, though, are very, very plain, in fact, rather disappointing (thinking of the marvels the ancient Roman cuisine is capable of):
1. Fried & served with a mixture of liquamen and wine (liquamen is something we've discussed on ek's food report thread, towards the end - may I direct everybody there, please, instead of repeating it here?)
2. with salt (not a common ingredient in ancient Roman cooking!!!), (olive) oil and vinegar (for boiled parsnips/carrots, I presume, though the recipe doesn't say anything)
3. boiled & minced carrots (this recipe says definitely "carrots", though it is in the "carrots or parsnips" chapter) with some strong cumin oil. (Cumin oil, that should be olive oil flavoured with - maybe ground - cumin, and the recipe requires strong cumin oil, i.e. flavoured with plenty of cumin.)
Sorry, mvor, these are no showcases of ancient cooking - merely sidedishes... the ancient Romans were definitely no vegetarians, rather on the contrary!
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Old Mar 20th, 2007, 04:24 PM
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Thanks for sharing those recipes, Franco and for encouraging a novice to participate. BTW, I still enjoy the ancient Romans even if they were carnivores!

**Liquamen aka garum or muria = fish sauce (explained in better detail in the previous thread).
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Old Mar 20th, 2007, 04:35 PM
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What a wonderful post! Thank you, franco, and everyone else who contributes!
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Old Mar 21st, 2007, 03:51 AM
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Thank you Franco, for including me in this new post on Italian cuisine secrets. I am honored. Mario Batalli has a cookbook from his restaurant Babbo and uses parsnips quite often. They are closely related to the carrot and I also read they were used in Roman times. I like the recipe for pasta with parsnips, and pancetta. I also use them when I roast root vegetables for pureeing in sauces.
Here is some food for thought (you'll pardon the pun): who agrees with me that they prefer grana padana to pecorino? I find pecorino to be too salty. First choice, of course, would be reggiano.
But since I am in Korea, I am grateful to find any hard grating cheese and I'd kill for some delicious ricotta cheese!
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Old Mar 21st, 2007, 04:16 AM
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I agree with you about the cheese. First choice is always Reggiano Parm but if not, then some other grana. Even if the recipe calls for pecorino, I will use a grana. For a short while I was buying a pecorino studded with tiny bits of black truffle but have now lost my enthusiasm for that as well.

Korea, that is interesting about the parsnips. I had that cookbok here for several weeks, borrowed from the library, and never spotted the parsnip recipes! (I also had the Molto Italiano book here and used it much more frequently than the Babbo book).
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