Italian Cooking & Language Blog

Fare La Scarpetta means to wipe your plate clean with a piece of bread.

What else could you ask for?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Thank You to my Food Writing Students @FDU!

I would like to sincerely thank the students in my online Food Writing class at Fairleigh Dickinson University for a great spring semester. They worked hard reading and discussing Dianne Jacob's book Will Write for Food and published food writing pieces. Aside from many reading responses and some creative writing exercises, they wrote and revised three final pieces.

For the first time since I've been teaching online writing classes, I've set up a public blog where the students can showcase their best revised essays. I hope that you will read through the essays and perhaps even leave a comment or two for the students. I know that they'll enjoy your feedback on their published work.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Practice Italian by Listening to the Radio

When I was first learning Italian and listening to someone speak, I could barely figure out where one word ended and the next one began. It sounded like a blur to my ears.

A great way to practice simply listening to the language and parsing out the various sounds, words and sentences, is to listen to the radio in the background. Maybe you'll want to leave it on while you are cooking dinner or working on the computer. 

Wikipedia has a great list of Italian radio stations. Start there and see where it leads you.

I hope you'll share what you find below in the Comments section. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Italy's 150th Anniversary of Unification

Not only is today St. Patrick’s day, but it also marks the 150th anniversary of Italy’s unification. Here, in Italian, is the official site of the holiday.

To celebrate, read about and participate in a conversation from an Italian-American perspective by i-Italy (Italian/American Digital Project). You can also link to (in Italian), an episode of Porta a Porta, “Italy Re-launches with Garibaldi.”

Of course, the history, as well as Italy’s current political and cultural state, is not as unified as the holiday might suggest. Slate’s reprint of Tony Barber’s Financial Times article, “Unified Italy Reaches Its 150th Anniversary, but Italians still lack a national identity” helps to put the current state into perspective.

What will you do today to celebrate? 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Learn to Cook While Practicing Your Italian Language Skills... Online

One of my Italian language students is interested in both Italian cooking and the language. When I asked him to find recipes in Italian, he discovered the website Giallo Zafferano. They offer video recipes, photos, written recipes and more. The cooking demonstrations are short and presented in Italian. What a great way to practice listening and understanding the Italian language while learning how to prepare Italian dishes!

Who knows what the name, Giallo Zafferano, means?

If you are interested in combined cooking and language lessons and live in the Washington, D.C., metro area, I would be happy to create a lesson and menu just for you and a few friends.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Creating New Pesto Sauces

The Italian verb pestare means to grind. The traditional dish, Pesto Genovese, is composed of hand-ground basil leaves with garlic, olive oil, Pecorino Romano cheese and pine nuts. A traditional chef will use a mortar and pestle (pestle sounds like the word pestare, right?)

Of course, you can prepare a less traditional and less expensive pesto out of almost any other green leaf. I will often make a pesto sauce out of extra spinach. Recently, I had left-over arugula that I bought for lunch salads. Not having the time to hand-grind it, I threw it in the food processor with some whole garlic, extra virgin olive oil, Pecorino Romano chunks and pine nuts. (I know, I should have done it by hand.)

The resulting sauce, which doesn’t need to be cooked, can be seen in the picture tossed over strozzapreti pasta (the name means “strangles priests”) that I bought at the Italian Store. The curled shape of the pasta nicely held the sauce in. Since we weren’t going out after dinner, I added extra garlic and it was particularly spicy.

The best part of dinner was my husband asking, “You made this up?” Sure, why not? Tell us about your favorite made-up own dishes inspired by the classics and share with us below.