I remember my first fresh pea. Ejected from its pod, I inspected it, lying in the palm of my hand with its siblings. I’d had frozen peas before, tasteless and of a much darker hue than this one which put the pea in pea-green. The taste, more like a fruit than a vegetable, took me by surprise. His siblings didn’t last long.
In the 1720s, the Venetian artist Giovanni Battista Piazzetta decided to paint a version of the Supper at Emmaus, an episode from the Gospel according to Saint Luke. In the story, the newly risen Christ appears to two disciples on the road from Jerusalem to the town of Emmaus. The story takes place on Easter Sunday evening and in order to show this Piazzetta decided to depict food which was in season in the Veneto at that time. And so, sitting on the table in front of Jesus is a pile of delicious looking white asparagus. You can see a photograph of the painting here.
I first visited Verona thirty years ago. I was in Venice having lunch with an aunt and two cousins who I had never met before. During the memorable lunch, which you can read about here, it emerged that my eldest cousin, Silvia, sang in the chorus at the Arena di Verona—a well-preserved Roman amphitheater where a summer season of operas are staged in a manner that Cecil B DeMille would be proud of—and was appearing in Aida that evening. A moment of summer madness resulted in my going with her (Verona is about an hour away from Venice) and hearing Verdi’s music soaring up to the stars while a cast of a thousand ballerinas danced on a vast pyramid behind the stage.
This recipe is from Tuscany.
Crostini are an important part of Tuscan cuisine and feature as the antipasto on high days and holidays. They consist of small pieces of lightly toasted bread topped with a variety of ingredients. Last summer I did a post about the traditional toppings which you can read here, however you can really put what you want on top as things come in and go out of season.
Tramezzino, the diminutive of ‘in the middle’ is the Italian word for sandwich. Said to have been coined by the early-twentieth-century poet Gabriele d’Annunzio, the word is used to refer to sandwiches made with white pancarré bread, again said to have been invented in the Bar Mulassano in Turin. Notwithstanding their Piemontese origin, the most famous tramezzini are those made in the city of Venice.