This week we studied the region of Puglia. We made semolina orecchiette, or “little ears”, named because..well, they look like tiny ears and the Italian word for ear is orecchio. We prepared the orecchiette dough from semolina flour, a yellow-y durum wheat flour. Our Chef told us we needed to use super hot water to make this dough come together properly. The orecchiette was tossed with rapini, garlic, anchovy, and extra virgin olive oil. Delicious. Simple. Good food. Of course, the dish can be made with store-bought orecchiette as well. No need to burn your hands.
My internet connection is really bad today, maybe it’s the ominous fog outside. I have never seen fog so low to the ground. The owls and birds coo and the cows moo. Actually, in Italy, the cows seem to “Baooo”, in books and when kids sing Old MacDonald, the cows say “Baooooo”. Strange that cows even speak a different language here. Language is tricky. Italian is a difficult language for me to learn to speak. I can understand what people are saying for the most part, but to speak is difficult for me because I like to be correct when I speak. Italian is backwards to English. I would say the purple cow, and they would say the cow purple. This is an easy example, but I have a lot of trouble figuring out which order to say the words in. In English, we would say “I speak” and “You speak”, in Italian they change the ending of the word to fit the subject you are speaking about. So…to speak is “parlare”, I speak is “parlo” and you speak is “parli”. And lets not even talk about the irregular verbs. Wowza.
In the kitchen, and in context, the language is not so difficult. To express ideas or emotions in any depth is almost impossible. Today, the sous chef looked at me and made a hand gesture about another person. I had to tell him that we don’t speak with our hands in Canada and I had no idea what he meant (non parlo con mani dal Canada?). He thought this was hilarious. And it was. The array of hand gestures used here is mind boggling, even the children have a firm grasp on them. I have taken to speaking in English lately, to give them an idea of how hard it is for me to understand another language. They don’t seem to mind, each of the people in the kitchen understands English to some degree, and we end up laughing a lot because sometimes we are all lost in translation.
Orecchiette alla Pugliese
300 g Semolina, fine
100 ml Water, hot
200 g Rapini, or spinach, swiss chard
50 ml olive oil
4 anchovies, salted
50 g bread crumbs
2 cloves garlic – mashed
Salt & Pepper
1) Combine semolina and water – knead mixture into elastic dough. Wrap and rest the dough.
2) Break the dough in pieces and roll into strips. Cut into small pieces.
3) Press the pieces into oriecchiette shape by pinching the precut dough between thumb and forefinger to form ear shape. Let them dry in a single layer on a tray.
4) Cook the greens while cooking the pasta in the same water.
5) When cooked – strain both.
6) Saute garlic in olive oil until golden. Add anchovies and cook on very low heat until anchovies begin to break down and melt.
7) Toss the warm greens with the olive oil, garlic and anchovies. Toss with pasta. Add extra virgin olive oil and some extra starchy pasta cooking water if extra moisture is needed. Garnish with bread crumbs.