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

Castagne – chestnuts

Probably one of the earliest foods eaten by man, chestnuts have an amazingly long history. The ancient Greeks imported their trees from Asia Minor. Romans then imported chestnuts from Kastanum in Asia Minor and Castanea is still the botanical name. While several varieties of the chestnut tree exist

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Insalata di Pere – Pear salad

A favorite winter salad to accompany a roast or as a simple palate cleanser. Walnuts are used in this recipe but other variations include other nuts i.e. pecans, hazelnuts, almonds or also great with poppy seeds.

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Aceto Balsamico – Balsamic vinegar

Written spring 2003 Balsamic vinegar -- aceto balsamico -- has always been a big puzzle to most people. Its tangy sweet sour taste has made it one of the most popular condiments in America since the late seventies. However, most of the balsamic vinegar sold here has little in common with the real

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Un Gran Bollito Misto – Mixed boiled meats

Bollito misto or mixed boiled meats doesn’t sound very appetizing to the American palate. However, during the winter months in Northern Italy this elaborate meal holds a place of honor. The best restaurants will have a carrello di bolliti – the cart of boiled meats and will wheel it tableside wh

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