Subject: Re: Best Meal
Hello Ziners, Since I am a dedicated foodie, I just have to chime in about the best meal. I'm not sure the one I am going to write about is my best meal ever, but it was certainly the best of my 5 1/2 week trip to Italy this past November and December. This meal came about with no planning and as the result of heavy rain and no warning about a road problem. I had hired a driver to take me to several places I wanted to visit or revisit. One such trip was the Amalfi Drive. November 19 was a beautiful sunny day, and we had proceeded almost to Amalfi when the driver spotted a sign saying the road into Amalfi was closed due to a rock fall caused by heavy rain. He was very upset, but I assured him it was not his fault. He showed me the steps carved into the hill to go down to the town. After looking at them for a while, I decided that down would not be a problem, but since I had been to Amalfi a few years ago I did not have to face the climb back up. Still upset the driver asked if I would like to visit a farm near Sorrento. I said sure. The visit to the farm included lunch with a fellow driver, Mario, and his family. They live on a family farm--four generations live there now, each family in its own section of the house, which has been added onto for each new family. The original part of the building is now the wine cellar. The date 1662 is carved in the ceiling beam. This family has lived here for over 200 years. All the men work outside the farm too, and the whole farm is organic. I met the pigs, the chickens, the roosters and saw olive trees well over 100 years. The meal was cooked by Philomena, Mario's wife. The antipasti included her home made mozzarella cheese (must be eaten in 24 hours); artichokes and zucchini cooked, though, still fairly crisp, and preserved in olive oil (from the farm); cherry peppers stuffed with tuna and also preserved in olive oil (rather spicy but good);salami made by Mario's father; home cured olives, and home made bread. With all parts of the meal we drank delicious white wine I watched Mario decant from a large stone container. Next we had pasta with tomato sauce, which was made from their home canned tomatoes. The sauce was seasoned with of touch of lard, which they also preserve by sealing in jars and canning. The main course was Italian sausage made by Mario's father, home cooked french fries and sauteed brocoletti (I think broccoli rabe). Dessert was home grown chestnuts, which I had seen roasting in the oven, and fruit. We had espresso and then a liqueur made from fennel. What a marvelous meal and a marvelous time! My driver, Gennaro, insisted that the meal was his treat because he had not been able to take me to Amalfi and Ravello as agreed. I assured him over and over that this had been a most wonderful experience, one of the best times I could remember from a trip to Italy. And certainly this ranks at the top of meals I can remember! It is the unexpected pleasures of traveling that are the ones I cherish and remember as I am sure other ziners do too. Ciao and buon appetito. Joan Schmelzle Rockford