July 23, 2011

Home is Where Your Mouth Is

As I prepare to go back to the states to deal with my mom's estate, somehow flavors I miss while in Italy come to mind.  Everyone asks what do I want to eat when I come "home". ( Since I moved to Italy in 1984, almost half my life has been spent here- I think of Italy as home as well.)

Sushi and Mexican food are always on the top of my list, but also silly things like a good BLT make me happy. Other foods are breakfast items and side dishes like pickles.

My new butcher in Colle Val D'Elsa has taken a liking to me and I have been receiving gifts from his garden when I shop. When he handed me these huge cucumbers I knew what I was going to make.

Summer always has me trying to make my own. This year I am trying to make a version of a Kosher Dill. I was inspired by David Lebovitz's post on his making Arthur Schwartz' recipe.
I have no dill- so will buy some seeds when I get home to be able to recreate them better if they turn out nicely and my Italians like them.

This is my first try- and of course did not have pickling spices or dill.

My Tuscan Dill-less Dill Pickles-
I put in black pepper, garlic, chili, coriander and cilantro and bay leaves.

Can't wait!

Perhaps will take a jar to the butcher and see what he says.

marcello- my new butcher/gardner

The Marzini butcher shop in Colle is more like a museum- here is Marcello showing me a helmet they found at their estate. Love the fleur du lys.

I made three jars of dills, then with the rest made some Japanese style cucumber salad, Sunomomo, which is a lot like bread and butter pickles, with sugar and vinegar.

My husband loved the Japanese salad so much I decided to make more as bread and butter pickles with some sliced onion and thinly sliced bell peppers.

Summer in a jar.

When I come back and looking forward to a fabulous fall season.

There are Wine Festivals all over Italy on the weekends in September for the harvest.

October I am accompanying my Ecole Chocolate students to Lecco for professional workshops and then on to Torino.

November 6-12  I will be hosting another trip to Sicily- do hope you can join me!

This winter I will be spending more time down there to find a new space to start my Divina Cucina- Sicily day classes too and working on my Secrets of my Sicilian Kitchen cookbook.


  1. I miss having a local butcher, it's so much better than the pre packed commercial nonsense in todays grocery stores. Marcello looks...well he looks like he's the super helpful veggie giving nice butcher that I dont have but would love!
    Thanks for sharing..

  2. salt brine only! no vinegar, right? and garlic cloves, whole garlic cloves. my brother made great pickles, so does my friend kamala (i wrote a column about both). i LOVE pickles! sometimes i find salt-brined pickles in Polish shops here, because though i come from a long line of pickle-makers, i'm not a great pickler myself. i don't have the talent. can hardly wait to hear how your pickles have turned out!

  3. Sushi is on top of my list too...my husband is Japanese:) I'm following you from Rome!

  4. Wonderful pickles!
    But I prefer doing them with smaller cucumbers, not so big and old! And dill so crucial for them it gives them this nice aroma that everybody is crazy about them. The salt brined are my fav, but if I want to last longer I usually make the recipe with the red wine vinegar.

    This summer I'm exploring new ideas for doing my pickles right. Mustard seeds.

  5. Is it me or all your ingredients, food and even candies and chocolates look so scrumptious??? I mean always your photos make water my mouth!!

  6. In my country we also do similar winter salads. They are very delicious and I will pass the tradition to my children too.
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