Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Saturday lunch... Black Noodles with Shrimp and Saffron.

Tagliolini neri con Scampi e Zafferano

Despite the influence of the French on my taste buds after living here for 15 years, I simply adore Italian food; the way they think about it, they way they cook and the way they eat it and how they do so. Living in France I am constantly reminded of how they consider themselves to be superior in matters culinary. This is no bad thing because different people around the world think themselves superior over others in a great many ways and for the French, food, cooking and eating and as importantly, drinking wine to accompany it is as good a way as any to express one's superiority.

The Italians of course are no different. They are merely convinced.

Despite living so close to Italy I do not get the chance to travel there as much as I would like, and so in many ways the only opportunity for me to eat real Italian is to make an occasional forage into nearby Geneva, in Switzerland, and find a restaurant owned, run and staffed by Italians; although strictly they may have only been so two or three generations ago who also cook and not only know about Italian wines but import and serve them along with some memorable Swiss wines. Memorable for all the right reasons.

The other alternative is to cook it. But then I ain't Italian.

This is where Elisabeth David's books come in handy as do those of Antonio Carluccio and Jamie Oliver's jamies' italy which I have used often and I am getting flavour and sense enough of the recipes to recognise them in Italian restaurants although admittedly, I have to allow for regional variations...

France has now started to import and sell in it's supermarkets, produce from around the world. This is limited and has to be and needs to be. I bought some Coco Rose the other day imported not from Italy, its nearest E.U. member but from Morocco, a former French colony.

It is not unreasonable. Friends from Britain have often complained they cannot find the Italian or Spanish wines they know so well in French supermarkets, but on the other hand I have not seen French wines in supermarkets in either Spain or Italy. All three countries produce enough of their own wine so why bother transporting them by polluting truckloads to neighbouring states?

An example which springs to mind of recent supermarket finds is that of black pasta, or pasta made using ink from cuttlefish. More a tagliatelle than a tagliolini I have found it mixes beautifully with seared scallops, some small tomatoes, some garlic & chopped parsley and little white wine...

Or, just go to Murano, a small glass making island in the lagoon a short boat ride from Venice and seek out a little restaurant by the canal side called A Pianta Leoni, and there they will serve you the best black pasta dish you ever tasted... that is the photo above... Tagliolini Neri con Scampi e Zafferano... it was simply the best pasta dish I have ever eaten...

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