Emily in Italy
Wine, gelato, café, and of course food. These four things are what I often say living in Sicily “spoiled for me”. From 2010-2012 I had the privilege to live on the Italian island for two years while serving as a U.S. Navy Nurse. That time remains as some of the best years I’ve experienced, the vast majority of those memories surrounding wonderful company and of course, food. Fast forward a few years to walking into the Maine Mall’s SKORDO location (ostensibly to visit my sister, co-owner Anne) and catching sight of my new favorite cookbook Piatti. One glance at the pistachio pesto on the cover and I was instantly taken back to Sicily. I was reminded of my days of eating that very pesto, in a small family run local restaurant, around the corner from my Italian apartment.
That is exactly how powerful food can be, it can instantly take you back to any time and place.
Once I saw that pistachio pesto recipe I set my mind to recreate it, and pretty much every other recipe from that book. I had been looking for an authentic pistachio pesto since I left Sicily and hadn’t quite found one that worked. This one worked beyond my expectations! It works because it highlights the pure ingredients of the pesto, bringing forth depth of flavor, but without overpowering any one component. I added it to an al dente fettuccine instead of artichokes. And the Parmigiano-Reggiano on top…I was able to form a new wonderful memory with this same recipe by sharing it with my sister, brother in law and 6 month old twin nephews.
One of the things that struck me about eating in Sicily, was the purity of ingredients. Yes, grocery stores were plentiful, but the city markets were where most locals purchased their ingredients. Everything is available fresh, from cheese and olives for antipasti, to herbs, vegetables and meat. Sicily, in particular is known for its seafood. I can also count on one hand the times I opened a bottle of wine at a restaurant. Mostly, wine was local, served in a carafe, and likely harvested from a relative of the owner. Delicious! Olive oil, specifically was quite a treat. I was able to get some bottled at the source – needless to say I’m quite picky at what I choose for olive oil since then. Of course a bottle had to be sent back to papou Karonis!
It is safe to say that the rest of my travel time in Europe was also punctuated by its associations with meals...
Filling up on fondue (and chocolate) before hiking around the Swiss Alps.
Traveling to Munich’s Christmas Markets and having a glass of warmed mulled wine while walking out in the snow.
Pizza in Naples while touring Pompeii.
The Karonis sisters also had wine tasting on the side of a volcano and took on Rome!