The more I learn about southern Italian cuisine the bigger the differences I see between that and northern cuisine. And, to be honest, nothing surprises me. I was recently taught this recipe by a good friend of mine from Naples and it’s already become one of my go-to favourites. As the name suggests―maccheroni in Italian is used to refer to pasta in general rather than a specific kind―this can me made with any type of pasta. In fact, it’s often used as a way of using up leftovers. I already knew that you could make delicious arancini with leftover risotto to avoid re-heating (and therefore overcooking and ruining) the rice. But this recipe is the same with pasta. Alternatively, as with this recipe, you can cook the pasta specially and just enjoy eating the dish for its own sake.
It’s black summer truffle season here in the Tuscan Valtiberina and these alternative fruits of the forest are everywhere. Less pungent than in some other areas of Italy they are often served grated over pasta or grilled meat in abundance. There’s one restaurant in the village where the set menu looks like its own truffle festival with the antipasti, primi, and secondi all featuring this local treasure. I’ve yet to discover a dessert using black truffle—chocolate truffle is, of course, something quite different—but watch this space.
At this time of year the hedgerows around Caprese Michelangelo turn white with what seem to be bunches of tiny snowflakes. Luckily they are not since subzero temperatures in May would not be welcome. They are in fact fiori di sambuco or elderflowers. As well as looking pretty, they have a sweet, delicate fragrance that you’d wish you could bottle and take home with you.