4/18/2006

easter is all about eating. (part i) for italians, pasqua is among the most sacred of holidays -- and i'm not speaking specifically in the religious sense, though there was definitely a scary plasticine twice-lifesize madonna float in the middle of my town's square for a couple days, and i heard the (very) odd clomping of hooves outside my window on sunday morning, both of which must have been part of the usual easter procession through town. most italian families spend pasqua eating copious quantities of meat (it's the culinary equivalent of memorial day or fourth of july) and then go away for some or all of the long weekend (we get pasquetta, the monday after, or as i like to translate, 'mini-easter', off as well). this holiday, like christmas, is an important time to spend with i tuoi and i parenti (your parents and relatives). and my italian friends, when not downing aforementioned copious quantities of meat, were in transit to go see the relatives and wish them a buona pasqua. my buona pasqua actually began friday night in asti (more on that below), but first, a recap of our saturday trip to the ligurian coast. the best view (ever?): while it was too overcast and chilly to really get in some decent beach time, the trip was definitely worth my while because i finally, finally got to go try focaccia di recco. which is indeed, as everyone has told me, sublime. i'd been told to go to recco itself (a small, otherwise forgettable town outside of genova) for this specialty, but this was refuted by some other experts, who directed me to the beautiful shores of camogli in the levante (or the right-hand side of liguria, if you're looking at a map). unlike regular ol' focaccia, this stuff consists of a layer of recco cheese (made from sheep's milk) baked between two thin, thin layers of dough. the dough itself doesn't seem all that similar to spongy, oily focaccia dough, but more like the dough the ligurians use for their torte salate. this definitely makes my top 20 italian food items of all time. and this is perhaps in part because it's eaten on a rock-strewn jetty extending into the mediterranean with seagulls wheeling overhead and a good friend sitting beside you. the focacceria we went to (in the center of camogli, just opposite the main chiesa, i believe, right by the beach) does the regular stuff too (as well as fried stuffed sardines and anchovies and other fun, tasty treats), though in their capable hands, you can also get focaccia with lovely anchovies and tomatoes. as delicious as it looks. some lesser views of camogli (only because they're focaccia-less): on friday night, we had pizza at daniele's house. pizza that daniele made with his own two hands. let me remark again on this one exceptional attribute of italian guys -- they might not lift a finger where other things are concerned, but most of them know their way around a kitchen and a big mound of dough. pizza with carciofi and pecorino.

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