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07 April 2012

Typical Italian Antipasto

These past days took me to an accelerated level of grappling for time and crawling to a deep and dreamless slumber at the end of the day.  It had been (and still is) a 24-hour marathon of running after everything that has to be done but never seem to get fulfilled.  

Spring has a bright and beautiful side but we never mention its dark side.  Spring cleaning!  It's a herculean job when doubled with other chores and cooking.  Bagging and segregating things for throwing, recycling and donating have disrupted my daily routine and my neglected chores are piling up.  And cooking, well, I had been feeding my family with pasta and pizza take-outs or whatever we can grab from the fridge.  There's anarchy in my kitchen at the moment and I am letting it be until I wrap up the last bag from spring cleaning, pretty soon.  

When I have depleted all my energy and there's still dinner to be prepared, sometimes, I fix an antipasto (appetizer) spread that is big enough to be considered as dinner.  I always hit the right chord with the kids when I set the table with this.  They see fun in the variety of food and with this enjoyment, their appetites augment.  And my enjoyment?  Watching them eat.  A lot.

Last Sunday, we read about a regional gastronomical market in Rome and we decided to spend our Palm Sunday there.  After passing by the church to have our olive tree branch blessed, we went straight to the street market.  

I have a weakness for regional specialty foods and like with books, I can spend hours browsing and looking at every single item.  My kids know this and they usually complain, but when a vendor starts to give them samples of the cheese and ham, these grumbles are pacified quickly.

Sometimes, in these markets, the vendors are the producers themselves and to speak with them about their methods of producing quality food is such a treat.  It is also a learning experience for the kids.  I see that Riccardo knows much more than I did when I was his age about food production. 

His school field trips took him and his class to wine making, cheese processing, olive preserving and fruit & vegetable picking.  At six years old, he and his classmates are little masters of gastronomy. 

A typical Italian antipasto (appetizer) spread is usually an assortment of cured meats, cheeses or pickled vegetables in oil or vinegar.   Every region has a specialty so the variety changes too.  It's a feast to the eyes and the palate.

For this reason, antipasto is my favorite course.   It's my point of entry to a promise of a good meal. 

Buon appetito!