is the region in Italy
known for having the best food and the highest cooking standards.
We lived there until I was about four, and I have vague memories of
our farm. We had cows, oxen, pigs. We grew vegetables, mostly corn.
I remember going to the mill with my mother. The miller would grind
the corn and keep a little for himself as payment. That's how it was
in those days. With the ground corn my mother would make polenta.
She had an outdoor
stove that had a special opening for a polenta pot which was much
deeper than regular pots. There was a special stick for stirring the
polenta. It had a curved handle for scraping the edge of the pot.
My mother would hold the bag of ground corn meal under her arm so
she could pour it in slowly, stirring all the time so there wouldn't
be any lumps. I do it her way, even though I use a smaller bag of
You eat polenta
with chicken stew or
sausage or mushroom ragou.
The next day you can fry it or grill it and have it with eggs or use
it cold with salad. It was our form of bread. She used to slice it
with a thread, then put the slices in a roasting pan covered with
tomato sauce or cheese - she liked fontina. Also with mushrooms.
My mother put
mushrooms into everything, especially her sufreit
which is dialect for soffritto. Sufreit is the combination of flavors
that makes the foundation for a Iot of dishes. I still make sufreit
the way my mother did. Everyone loves it, but to me it just never
tastes as good as hers. I make it in huge batches and keep it in the
refrigerator. It's there whenever I need it, and it really cuts down
on cooking time.
She also made
her own pasta. Not for fun but because she never compromised in the
kitchen. I liked pasta days. I'd come home from school and see the
pasta drying in the kitchen. She'd put brooms across the backs of
two chairs, then cover the brooms with dish cloths, and hang the pasta
over the cloths. It always made me feel good to drop my books, and
think about eating the pasta. Even today, all these years later, I
feel good when I think about pasta hanging from those brooms.
JENNY: Jenny is a
housewife, known for her generosity with food.
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