Not Really Italian Bolognese

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My husband’s cousin and her husband are in Florida visiting and will be coming for dinner. We have not seen them in ten years. I am making Bolognese Sauce, which might be bold since according to my husband, aka, Mr. Wonderful, I am not really Italian. He is right. My father’s side was Irish, English, German; my mother’s side all Irish on her mother’s side and all Italian on her father’s, at best, I am one-quarter Italian.

However, when my friend Marshal returned from Italy, where evidently all he ate was Rigatoni with Bolognese sauce; and now in withdrawal, I sent over a pot of sauce. He phoned to say, “Claudia, you make the best Bolognese sauce I have ever had, can you teach me?”

The next Sunday, I went to his house with my “Not Really Italian Bolognese Sauce” recipe written down in my head. Like many cooks I rarely follow a recipe exactly and make changes according to what is in the pantry.

Start with what is referenced as the trio; equal amounts of finely chopped onion, celery and carrot sauteed in pan lightly covered with olive oil. The pan needs to be hot enough that you hear or see a piece of onion sizzle. This takes about five minutes. Remove the trio from pan and brown two pounds of chop meat. Remove chop meat from pan, discard any liquid and brown or scorch at least 2 TBSP of tomato paste. You’ll smell the scorching.

Then add the trio back into the pan, de glaze the pan with ¼ cup white or red wine, add the sauce, meat, dried spices and whole garlic and simmer, for several hours. If you like thick sauce leave the pot cover off, for a thinner sauce leave the cover on.

Not Really Italian Tips

  • Use jar sauce, low in sugar or two cans of crushed tomatoes and or add chopped fresh tomatoes.
  • Add a whole carrot while sauce simmers then remove before serving if not sweet to your taste
  • Add whole garlic to sauce when simmering. I don’t chop or brown the garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried Basil and 1 or 2 dried bay leafs, even dried basil will make the sauce bitter if you add too much
  • Red or White Wine whatever is open

. . . . Just Saying

Aspetta and The Italian Bulldozer

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Port of Civitavecchia

We will be traveling soon, a cruise on the Azamara Pursuit, to seven coastal cities around Italy. We will fly to Rome and board the cruise ship at Civitavecchia.

 Therefore, I have homework; a refresher course on geography and the weather, deciding what to pack and wear; and what to see at each port.

I have also found it helpful to read novels set in our travel location and previously read “Under the Tuscan Sun,” by Frances Mayes, and found one by my favorite author, Alexander McCall Smith. He is known for the “The #1 Ladies Detective Agency” series featured on PBS.

The title, “My Italian Bulldozer”, grabbed my attention, and when the main character, Paul, describes Tommy, the man his significant other ran off with, as a tattooed MESOMORPH, I knew Tommy had a fat neck before viewing the Kindle definition; a compact person with muscular body build.

Alexander McCall Smith transforms the mundane with insight, i.e. “the past has a bigger shadow than people believe,” and Paul takes off for Tuscany. I am hoping to  get an education about Italian wine.

Northern Italians are fair, and that is why my mother says I have blonde hair;  her side of the family, the De Salvo’s, were from there. My husband says I am not really Italian.

amalfi-from-the-front

Amalfi

The first port  will be Amalfi, then Sorrento,; Taormina, Brindisi, Trieste and final port, Venice.

Really Italian, or not, growing up, we thought we were.

sorrento

Sorrento

On Saturdays, my grandfather, Achilles DeSalvo, would take the train from the Bronx to  Long Island, wearing a sharkskin suit, a pressed handkerchief in his breast pocket, shoes with a spit shine, and hat, arriving around noon. After lunch he sat in the living room to read the newspaper and smoke a cigar. We gathered at his feet and watched his manicured hands unwrap the cigar then present the cigar band as a ring to one of us. Next, a Mounds bar was divided into four parts for all to share. After reading the newspaper, he phoned his bookie.

taormina

Taormina

We called our grandfather Pop-Pop and and the only Italian that past his lips were the words aspetta, meaning wait and capisci, asking, do you understand? Other than his sharkskin suit, he wore, pajamas, or a guinea t-shirt with his trousers.  His father, Alfonso DeSalvo, came to America from Abruzzi, to be an American, owned a tailor shop in Manhattan, and English was spoken in their home.

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Trieste

I may not be that Italian, but have a real Italian name, Claudia Chianese. My husband’s family came from Naples, my best guess is from Casamiccola. There were many Antonio Chianeses sailing from Naples, or the equivalent of looking for John Smith in the USA, it has been difficult to know for sure.                                  

 

grand-canal

Venice

Aspetta, our cruise will end in Venice, capisci?

. . . . just saying