Espresso gets all the press at least in terms of cups. There are so many uniquely designed espresso cups on the market that I have to control myself and not buy everyone I see. Like these that remind novice drinkers that it’s eSpresso not eXpresso. Or these bold colored cups by Italian designer Guzzini. Or the iconic Illy cups and their art collection design series.
Espresso’s second cousin has come into its own with a collection of cappuccino cups that are not just a coffee cup cast-off. The Lino Cappuccino Cup, made in collaboration with baristas at Intelligentsia, one of my favorite coffee roaster/retailers outside of Italy, has been described as a “seamless marriage of form and function” where the contour of the cup’s interior provides the “optimal fluid dynamics ” for a perfect cappuccino. A ratio of 1/3 espresso, 1/3 steamed milk and a perfect pour of 1/3 foamed milk.
Available at several online sites, I’m anxious to try these. They remind me of the classic thick-walled Italian designed d’ANCAP cups (another pick of mine) where the weight, size and shape of the cup are of considered importance in the enjoyment of the drink.
I like Italian pizza so much I’m willing to try anything to bring Italy home for the taste of an authentic pie. So when I saw a post on the internet describing a portable pizza maker with the look of a rustic stone dome and the promise of an Italian style pizza my inner pizzaiolo got very excited. Never mind that its heat source is an electric heating coil and the pizzas are the size of a saucer. The gadget got good reviews with comments about family gatherings and great couples entertaining similar to a Swiss Raclette .
The natural clay “terra-cotta” dome, the glow of the electric coils and clicking your heels three times will not transport you back to Italy and neither will the Made in China manufacturing label. As to whether the clever design of this easy bake oven brings true Italian brick oven taste to your tabletop remains unknown to me as the product is currently listed as unavailable.
The idea that if something works well there’s no reason to change it might be applied to the culinary history of Italy. The idea of simple food simply prepared using the best ingredients has been a hallmark of Italian cuisine with authentic dishes that highlight regional traditions and accentuate the products of the land – herbs, grains, seafood, meats, wine and olive oil.
The traditional olive oil salad dressing (Italian vinaigrette) has a gastro-history of ancient origins. Last summer a 2000 -year-old shipwreck buried in mud off the Ligurian coast near Varazze in Italy was discovered that contained sealed clay amphorae thought to still hold preserved food items. In recent years scientists have found other well-preserved artifacts from Mediterranean shipwrecks. Using sophisticated technologies like remote operating vehicles, sonar mapping equipment and genetic analysis they have been able to identify the contents of jars of cargo including an ancient salad dressing (olive oil flavored with oregano).
The first bottled salad dressing!
Make Your Own Italian Vinaigrette
¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ tsp minced garlic
½ tsp fresh chopped oregano
1 Tbsp fresh chopped parsley
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Whisk together and let stand for 30 minutes for flavors to blend together. Whisk again immediately before serving.
Makes 1 cup of dressing.
This year I’ve vowed to eat a healthier lunch. I want to pay more attention to good food with healthy ingredients not only at the dinner table but in my Italian “lunch box”. The word schiscetta is an old school Milanese term for lunch box or lunch pail. In post-War Milan it was used to describe the small metal-hinged pot factory and farm workers used to carry food to work that their wives or mothers had prepared for them at home. It comes from the infinitive schiacciare which in the Milanese dialect means to press or to bring close together as in a “packed” lunch.
Today 59% of Italians who work prepare their lunches at home eating rice or pasta, a panino of cured meats, vegetables and cheese or “leftovers” from last night’s dinner. My friend Luca (as do many other Italians) believes that even in Italy eating anything made at home is better than eating out (unless it’s a special occasion).
“Schi- chic” lunches are now back in vogue and the practice of bringing food from home to work has given chefs new inspiration for lunch box Italian meals. A status symbol of a healthier lifestyle, schiscetta has a passionate following and fervent supporters like Alessandro Vannicelli who created tumblr site Schisciando, as “a way to declare the Italian lifestyle and to love yourself even in the small things like a lunch break”.
Here are 5 Schiscetta Lunch Box meals the fashionable Milanese favor.