There is a famous Russian journalist, who dedicated himself to studying island cultures. He claimed, that as every island population developed in insolation, its culture and social norms are so distinctive, that it is not easy for continental people to understand them. As the examples he mentions Japan and UK (he spent 10 years in both countries and claims that British people are quite difficult to go alone with). I don’t know how true it is nowadays, but I am sure that this principle is not applicable to another large island – Sicily. It was conquered so many time, that it is rather a melting pot of people, traditions and cuisines. Specially distinguishing in this sense is Palermo region, which was under strong Arabic influence, and thus features couscous as a traditional dish. And it were Arabs, who brought lemons into Sicily – they started cultivated it on the fertile soil of Etna. Many people trust that exactly due to this volcanic soil and Sicilian lemons have these inimitable sweetness, which born the saying: “Lemons are not lemons unless they are from Sicily”.
Lemons are used in many traditional dishes, like famous Granita. But in the summer a popular dish is past with lemon, as it has rich, refreshing flavor.
Time of preparation: 20 minutes Difficulty: Easy
Spaghetti or tagliatelle_________400 grams
Olive oil______________________12 tablespoons
1. Boil spaghetti in plenty of salted water till al dente. Drain, reserving a splash of cooking water.
2. Chop the garlic and chili; put olive oil into a pan, add garlic and chili and sweat on medium fire for about a minute.
3. One lemon cut in segments, grate the zest and squeeze the juice from another one.
4. Put pasta in the frying pan, add a little bit of cooking water, lemon segments, zest and juice, basil, and cut tomato. Stir, season to taste, and adjust the density with the remaining cooking water. Add grated parmesan and butter. Serve straight away.
I thought I should complete my small flash-back to Liguria with some eternal classics, namely green Pesto or Pesto alla Genovese (quite predictable, isn’t it?). But almost for a week I have been sitting without writing a line. I wanted to tell a little bit about Genova, but I can’t find the right words. I already mentioned, that it is a city of contrasts, city with drug dealers, prostitutes and people of other doubtful occupation openly managing their business right in the middle of the day. I decided to find a holy place within this seem to be sin city.
In good old time I wanted to name my son Harrison – quite a daring ambition for a Russian mother-tongue. Guess who was the hero of my lifetime? Sure, Indiana Jones. He was so irresistible going to all these incredible places (where the hell they are located?), fighting crowds of evil locals, saving somebody in the spare time, digging out various staff… Couldn’t help thinking of becoming an archeologist, buying the suit of a sand color, and going to search for Graal (or similar).
And here I am in Genova, many years after, in simple white-red and blue dress, with degree in international relations and with Graal in my hands. Ok, ok, not in my hands, but in front my very eyes. And what do you think? It’s GREEN! Moreover, it’s BROKEN! They say it was Napoleon, but I guess they just look for a scapegoat (Sphinx, Graal – too many staff to break for one guy). Pretty incredible, but the Holy Graal is not lost, neither it is hidden… it is simply disposed in the treasury of San Lorenzo Cathedral in Genova, together with many other relicts. Obviously, no photography allowed – but it is a hexagonal deep dish, made out of green transparent glass with a huge hole next to the basement…
And back to pesto:
Time of preparation: 10 minutes Difficulty: Easy
Olive Oil_____100 ml
Parmesan___ 70 grams, grated
Pecorino____ 30 grams, grated
Pine nuts____1 tablespoon
1. Chop garlic, put in a food processor. Add basil, a pinch of salt and process for a short time.
2. Pour in oil, process again. Finally add cheeses and nuts, process till mixture is homogeneous. Enjoy!