22 March 2012

AUNTIE PASTA: Once Upon a Time There Was a Small Village

SARONNO, Italy - Here’s some good news. The President of the Republic of Italy was in Vernazza, over the weekend, to witness the changes that have taken place since the disastrous storm last October. The last time he was here, the town was buried under a river of mud 14 feet deep (4 meters) and people in his group were telling him, “the village pharmacy was here, the tobacco shop was over there and next to that a restaurant, and so on and so on, but all he could actually see was mud.  
 Vernazza, Italy
Gone were all of the places everyone had seen a thousand times in the photos and postcards sent by enchanted visitors as they marveled at this wonder of this village wedged between the sea and the sky. Even the underpass that once went to the train station was gone, the only reminder was a crooked blue Stazione sign pointing the way.

But that’s all changed. It’s not perfect yet, but the residents of Vernazza have been digging themselves out and on Monday, under a bright blue spring sky, Piazza Marconi was once again crowded with people sitting and having a drink by the sea. The old folks were out too, sitting on the village benches enjoying the warm spring sun and talking about the this and that of everyday life in the Cinque Terre.
Lunch in the Sun
And, as I said before, the President of the Republic was in town too. Officially he was there to attend a conference on protecting resources in an emergency, but I suspect he really wanted to see for himself what the people of Vernazza, and the many volunteers who came down to help, have done. One thing they didn’t do was wait around for the government’s help. They stepped up, got to work and made it happen.

I found a charming video of Vernazza on You Tube and if you’ve never been to Vernazza you'll get a good idea of what it's all about. Of course you won’t get to eat focaccia or smell the sea, or feel the warm breeze coming off of the water, but, you'll have to go there for those extras.  By the way, the church was built in 1310, just to give you a sense of the place, and because I know you are wondering, the total population is 974.The music in the video is coming from Piazza Marconi.

No, I haven't forgotten that it’s Thursday and it’s supposed to be Auntie Pasta’s turn to talk, so here’s an easy pesto recipe I found on the internet.

Fresh Basil Pesto Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
  • 3 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Special equipment needed: A food processor Descrizione: https://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=elisecom&l=ur2&o=1


1 Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.
2 Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Yield: Makes 1 cup. (enough for four portions)

Of course if you are like me and you don't own a food processor, you can also use a mortar and pestle, no reason why you can't And what do you think about making some pesto, cooking your pasta and eating it while you watch the video. Sounds like a good idea to me. You'll have to eat fast though. 

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