A homemade Italian meal
– The mixing ratio? Simona Bizzarri looks at me. Then she laughs.
– Enough of everything, until it is correct.
It is typical for traditional cooking, also in Italy, to grow up learning the way to make the different dishes. Measuring by eye, handcraft and long experience are the things to do – not primarily weight and measuring jugs.
«I know when the pasta dough has the correct consistency. If it is too dry, more fluid (eggs) is needed and if it becomes too dry, I have to add a sprinkle of flour. It is also important to let the dough rest and dry a little, but not too much!
Again, she points to the value experience.
Simona Bizzarri, along with her sisters, owns the exclusive perfume at the corner of Viale della Vittoria and Via Roma in Terracina. In the store, she not only sells scents, creams and oils, but also scarves, shawls, handbags, jewellery, and other things that are needed for Italian women to look gorgeous and elegant. She herself is elegant as well, and her sense of good taste characterizes the apartment in which she lives. It is spacious and airy with exquisite decorative details.
«It took me a few years to get it like this. I have removed walls and opened up to light. I have had a comprehensive plan, but have spent a long time doing everything. Now, however, it has become the way I want to have it, «she says – and sets out some beautiful plates handmade at a pottery workshop in Positano.
The evening meal at Simona Bizzarri consists of many different flavours and is so widely distributed that it feels a bit of a whistle to be seated and almost whacked in the food. Fresh mozzarella, fresh ricotta, several flavours of frittata (Italian omelette), bruschetta, olives …
And then pasta.Homemade.
«No, I do not have a pasta machine,» she says, explaining how she made these wide pasta tapes – yes, they might be called tagliatelle if we were to give them a name, she says – but she could not give us any exact recipe.
She just knows how the consistency of the dough has to be, rolled together and cut with a sharp knife and then straightened out and taken apart – without breaking or sticking together, boil 2-3 minutes in light salt water and sautéed together with vegetables in the pan in the end. Inherited knowledge, experience transferred from mother to daughter through generations.
It goes like this:
When making pasta you can roughly count 1 egg to 100g fine wheat flour = enough for one person. Add a little salt. Mix well and knead, knead and knead. The tradition is kneading by hand, which Simona does. When the dough has the correct consistency it is rolled out to a thin slice. Then leave it to rest and dry a little, roll without sticking and cut to the desired width. The sauce, or the accessories, she makes like this:
Divide an eggplant and cut the skin in square pattern. Bring it into the frying pan together with good olive oil and leave it on low heat. Cut small, sweet tomatoes and put into the pan, together with a clove of garlic with peel on. The garlic is just to give flavour to the sauce: she takes it away before serving. Add a handful of capers and a handful of good olives. Bring salt and pepper. Leave it to cook slowly until it’s tender. Mash it easily during the cooking. Boil the pasta for 2-3 minutes in lightly salted water. Put the pasta together with a little boiling pasta-water into the pan. Souter and mix well with two large forks. Serve.
Yes, it may sound easy, but it’s harder than you can think to be done in an elegant way, like Simona Bizzarri does. She has got the skills.
The meal lasted for a long time; the talking went easy, there were still lots of food left as the night reported its arrival. It was an honour to be her guest.
Did we have wine for the meal? Naturalmente!