I love anything with vinegar in it. Much to my husband's dismay, who absolutely hates the smell of vinegar, he has to live with it. He married me so he also married my vinegar side. He doesn't really like anything pungent so I can't toss back to him the Tsk! Tsk! look he sends my way when there's a whif of anything particularly acidically strong in the kitchen.
Lately, I had been into vinegary food. It's a phase I am going through so he just has to keep the kitchen windows open all the time and wear a thicker sweater for now.
He, on the other hand is the resident potato pacman. He will eat anything that resembles a potato. He refuses to understand that potatoes are an accompaniment to oven-roasted meat. He will tell you right off that potatoes should be the protagonists in these dishes. He never changed that position eversince he was a kid.
The first time I tried salt & vinegar potato chips was in Paris. I was entranced and would have taken back home bags & bags of them if not for the baggage limit. I cannot find them in Italy. So my salt & vinegar potato chip craving is fulfilled only when I meet my kindergarten classmate living in Paris. We had a holiday together last year in Prague and she and her husband had to travel with an outstanding amount of bags of potato chips that I, in turn treated as valuable luggage back to Rome with me. When she came to visit Rome, she need not ask me what I wanted from her side. Ever the efficient woman, she filled up the empty spaces of the suitcases of her family with potato chips. I had another salt & vinegar potato chip binge that lasted for days.
Slowly, these chips can be seen in the supermarket shelves in Italy. Two brands to be exact. But lucky me always gets the last bag. The first brand I tried was to be totally forgotten. Believe me, when I refuse potato chips with vinegar, they really have to be inedible. The second brand can be considered but still incomparable to the French ones. I was undecided whether to throw it or continue eating it. I finished the bag anyway.
I thought that enough is enough. I decided to take some action. I cooked my own potato chips. I read somewhere that you marinate them in vinegar before frying. So I did. And when they came out crunchy and tasting like vinegar, I was one satisfied woman. Out of consideration for the other members of my household, I did a bigger batch without vinegar. It was a trial and it went very well with my husband & kids.
The taste of the vinegar was light because I only marinated the potatoes for half an hour. The next time, I will leave them in the marinade much longer. I found a recipe a day too late that says that the potatoes retain the strength of the vinegar when they are boiled with the liquid then grilled with the slices a bit thicker. Healthier than deepfrying but boiling vinegar doesn't sound so promising with my other half in residence. I will try that one when I am sure it's a windy day to leave the windows open before my husband returns to a vinegar-scented home.
A couple of days ago, we made our annual day trip to Terracina, an ancient southern coastal town. It's a beautiful city, expecially when you go up to Monte Sant' Angelo that overlooks the sea and the city. There lies the Temple of Jupiter Anxur from 4th Century B.C. which is an important monument of the city. The place is breathtaking and I would like to share the photos with you.
It's best to have lunch in the Centro Ittico Cooperativa dei Pescatori (Fishermen's Cooperative), a fastfood type that serves fresh seafoods. The queue is always long but it's worth the wait.
Close to Terracina is the ancient town of Fondi that is a bit more inland. It has a beautiful square with a castle that dominates it.
Salt & Vinegar Potato Chips
- potatoes, sliced thinly with a mandoline slicer
- white wine vinegar
- peanut oil (or any oil with high smoke point good for frying)
- Marinate the sliced potatoes in a marinade of vinegar & salt. Leave for a few hours, moving constantly. Half an hour of marinating leaves a subtle taste of vinegar. The longer you leave them submerged in the vinegar, the tastier they will be. Drain.
- Put a lot of peanut oil in a thick bottomed cooking pot. Maintain a medium-high flame.
- When the oil is hot, put the potato slices one by one in such a way that they are not sticking to each other.
- Scoop out with a slotted spoon when they are crunchy. Let the oil drip back to the pot.
- Put the cooked potato chips in a bowl layered with kitchen paper towels to absorb the excess oil.
- Sprinkle some more salt if still needed.