Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Don't have two first courses if you want to eat like an Italian

Marcella kindly provided some feedback on me having two first courses which I thought I would share with all those who have an interest. She has told me before that she does not mind if I reproduce her advice to me:

"It's the business of two first courses - unless deliberately conceived as consecutive small tastings, which you wouldn't do except in a restaurant - that doesn't jibe with the Italian way of eating. It doesn't have to be a heavy meat course after the risotto, it could be a gratin of vegetables, or grilled fish, or scaloppine handled lightly and fragrantly, with a green salad after. When you get to be old like us, fresh, ripe fruit is all you might want. But you wouldn't have two first courses for the same reason you wouldn't have two meat courses, two salad courses, two gelato courses. It's not a law, it's just a style of eating."

It is interesting, isn't it, the perspective at which two different cultures can come at the same food prepared in the same way. Any Australian would be extremely pleased and grateful that I had cooked them a beautiful risotto and competent pasta for dinner. An Italian, it would seem, sees it as wrong and greedy.

I should acknowledge that Marcella has been exceptionally generous with her time over the past year and as I always suspected she is an extremely smart lady, which is I think the reason I was attracted to her writing (I persisted with it because of the results). What I didn't initially appreciate is that she also has a sharp sense of humour and clever turn of phrase - I see it now in her books. The quality of her written expression, even on the internet, exceeds that of most native speakers.

Here's hoping I am as articulate and interested in 50 years time.

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