Welcome to my kitchen

Americans are crazy about Italian food! For years the western world was seduced by not only its appetizing medley of aromas, tastes, colors and textures but also by the “dolce vita” life style that it suggested. Now as the trend toward eating the Mediterranean diet escalates, Italian food is doubly appealing for its healthful use of olive oil, vegetables, grains, fish, cheese, fruit and wine. But Italy doesn’t have a stereotyped national cuisine. It is instead a very diversified, delightful cuisine reflecting the ever-changing landscape that varies from region to region and town to town. Italian food is also about using the freshest natural ingredients, prepared in a simple fashion to be shared with friends and family.

In this column I will share with you information about food staples and ingredients from the Italian pantry that are the fundamental building blocks of Italian cuisine along with some simple basic recipes. While preparing these dishes, I hope that you can relive memories of growing up in an Italian household or you might just feel like an Italian as you bring the aromas, tastes and spirit of Italy as close to your own kitchen. Along the way I also look forward to bringing you some brief essays on Italian food traditions, the ins-and-outs of Italian eating habits, and the role mealtimes play in the Italian life. There’s also certainly sure to be some musing about my individual pursuit of good honest Italian food.

The kitchen is the soul of the Italian home, welcome to my kitchen! – Michele Topor

RISI E BISI – Rice and peas

"Rice and Peas"- Venetian style As a rule, I’m a fairly punctual person. But for reasons that I will explain, I am devoting this column to one of the most famous of all Venetian dishes traditionally served on April 25 to celebrate the birthday of St. Mark, patron saint of Venice. Rice and peas,

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ZUPPA DI PESCE – Mediterranean fish stew

It’s very often that too many topics come to mind when I sit down to write this column but I had help last week when I was approached by “Junior” as I walked down Salem Street - “I like your articles in the North End News but why don’t you write something about fish – I’d like to see a

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Toasts with chocolate, olive oil, and sea salt

Amanda Hesser wrote about this recipe in an article for the New York Times. Common as an after school snack for children in Spain, it is an effortless “no recipe” recipe. You’ll have to trust me that it’s outstanding and one of my most favorite easy to prepare treats to end a meal. Total ti

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