It’s no secret that Italians love their food and wine. In Italian culture, it is tradition that food and alcohol are consumed together. That’s why, for example, pre-dinner drinks (known as ‘aperativo’) involve a drink served with nibbles.
In most Italian homes at the conclusion of a typical Italian meal, the wine bottle is removed from the table together with the dishes to mark the conclusion of eating and drinking.
Food and alcohol in Italy are however sometimes consumed together even more directly. Many delicious and traditional Italian recipes call for a good glass of quality wine added in.
Meat sauce (known as ‘ragù’), most risotto recipes and many traditional Italian meat mains will call for a dash of wine or other alcohol, which is cooked off during the cooking process.
There are also several delicious Italian pasta dish recipes that call for alcohol as a main component of their sauce.
The following Tuscan pasta recipe comes from a dinner party held recently with a group of friends gathered around a large, circular antique wooden table, each dish passed from person to person to deliver delicious yet simple traditional recipes made with in-season ingredients as is custom in Italian cooking.
The first dish is known as ‘drunken and angry spaghetti’, with ‘arrabbiato’ being the Italian word used for angry, but also spicy hot.
Italian recipes are oft-times quite vague, with ingredient quantities listed in terms of ‘just enough’, ‘a little’, ‘some’, ‘a generous amount of’ and other such not-exact terms – and the following is no exception in terms of the description and quantities, but it is exceptionally good.
Finely chop an onion, cook it in some olive oil until it is clear but not browned. Add in a little tomato pulp and let it reduce for some time, stirring occasionally. Chilli powder or fresh chopped chilli goes in next. Keep cooking until the flavour is quite intense. Add salt and pepper then a dash of vodka at the very end of the cooking process. Serve over cooked spaghetti with some freshly-chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley.
The vodka adds a slightly bitter flavour to the tomato sauce, offset a little by the fresh parsley.
Cognac is another alcohol that is used in the following pasta recipe with smoked salmon. The below dish was made by a friend of Artviva and Tuscan chef who whipped this dish up for some of the Artviva Walking Tours staff in Florence one sunny autumn day.
Finely dice white onion and cook in a little olive oil until clear but not brown. Pour in 1 glass of cognac over the onion and let it evaporate somewhat. Then throw in the smoked salmon, which will need to have been finely chopped. Add some pepper, then mix together to let the flavours blend.
Serve over freshly cooked ‘al dente’ spaghetti.
As to the big spaghetti question – to spoon or not spoon – Italians use their fork and the base of the plate to expertly twist the strands of pasta around the fork. Spoons are only for soups and desserts (with no different form of spoon for soup to that of dessert).
If you would like to do a small-group hands-on cooking class in Tuscany, learning to make traditional Tuscan recipes, using the best fresh produce, you could sign up for an Italian cookery course in Florence, and perhaps also a market visit where you can learn about the traditional ingredients before heading to the kitchen to turn the products into delicious, typical dishes and then indulging in a delicious lunch made by you! .
We can also help you with small-group Tuscany wine excursions to explore Tuscany’s wine country to learn about ? and taste ? delicious Tuscan wines and the meals (and views!) they are best served with.
Artviva is a proud supporter and member of the Slow Food movement, and specialises in small-group, quality (and fun) tours in Florence/Tuscany, Rome, Venice and beyond. Visit www.artviva.com for more information, or email email@example.com.