Maureen B. Fant

discovering Italy through its food

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Vignarola (Roman spring vegetable stew)

April 17, 2017

Tags: cooking

Today la vignarola is a veritable cult object in springtime, when, for a magic few weeks, fresh fava beans, sweet, sweet peas, and locally grown globe artichokes are available simultaneously. But as recently as the mid-1980s, it wore the mystique of a traditional dish kept alive by a few dedicated souls. Its rediscovery, (more…)

How to trim artichokes, Roman style

April 17, 2017

Tags: cooking

The idea is to remove everything inedible in the kitchen. You will be tempted to comment superciliously about the waste. Donít. Just deal with it. Anyway, the Anglo-French tooth-scraping method leaves a big pile of garbage on the table. We donít.
Once you learn the basic principles of artichoke trimming, you will (more…)

Sheila Levine

September 27, 2014

Tags: Sheila Levine, University of California Press

I was saddened last night to learn of the death of Sheila Levine, retired Editorial Director of the University of California Press, and the editor responsible for the Press's publication of Encyclopedia of Pasta and Popes, Peasants, and Shepherds: Recipes and Lore from Rome and Lazio. Oretta and I were devoted to her, and (more…)

Department of language, manners, and mores

February 25, 2014

Tags: surveys, manners

I am always saying that people don't think about what words really mean. Here's the latest example.

For the umpteenth time a shopping website has interrupted my browsing to propose I participate in a survey. I always read the message in case they are offering a little thank-you prize, like some airline miles or (more…)

Sugo alla marinara

January 29, 2014

Tags: pasta, tomatoes, sauce

You've all seen the video of Lidia's recipe by now. Here's the one from "Sauces & Shapes."

For the condimento:

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound (450 grams) very high quality canned peeled tomatoes with their juice or red, ripe sauce tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, peeled and seeded
at least Ĺ teaspoon salt

Minestra di fave

January 21, 2014

Tags: soup, pasta, recipe, fava

Here's a nice winter recipe from "Sauces & Shapes" (page 258):

MINESTRA DI FAVE (dried fava bean and pasta soup)

for the soup:
1 pound 10 ounces (750 g) dried fava beans soaked 24-48 hours (depends on age)
1 large white onion, finely chopped
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Before serving:
8 ounces (225 g), or less according to taste, small (more…)


January 13, 2014

Tags: pizza, New York, De Blasio, table manners, ketchup, hot dogs

There's a thread on Chowhound (Food Media board) about Mayor De Blasio's use of knife and fork to eat pizza. Here's what I wrote yesterday. Link to the thread follows.

I grew up in Manhattan when pizza, at least outside Little Italy (AFAIK), meant a slice eaten with your hands standing up. I used (more…)

More about the timballo

January 3, 2014

Tags: pasta, capodanno, new years, pasta al forno

In I think 2004, or maybe ought-three, I was working on a book about Rome for Williams-Sonoma. They wanted a baked pasta and the first thing that came into my head was bechamel-mushrooms-prosciutto-peas, why I don't know. Then I said, oh no that's too retro, but by then they had said they loved the idea (more…)

Il timballo di San Silvestro

January 1, 2014

Tags: pasta, capodanno, new years

For some years now Franco and I have been inviting friends, and their friends, to come on December 31 for a buffet supper. As New Yearís bashes go, itís pretty tame, but we pop the midnight corks on our roof terrace just opposite the Colosseum and watch the fireworks that successive city administrations, (more…)

Selected Works

Pasta is so universally popular in the United States that it can justifiably be called an American food. This book makes the case for keeping it Italian with recipes for sauces and soups as cooked in Italian homes today. There are authentic versions of such favorites as carbonara, bolognese, marinara, and Alfredo, as well as plenty of unusual but no less traditional sauces, based on roasts, ribs, rabbit, clams, eggplant, arugula, and mushrooms, to name but a few.
Food culture and recipes with fabulous photos
A personal guide to traditional eating and drinking in three cities
A to Z Italian-English lexicon of food terminology
The Classical World
A source book on ancient women
By Oretta Zanini De Vita