Dolcetto (dole – chet – toe): the name itself is a bit deceiving. In Italian, it would mean “little sweet one,” but this red Piemontese wine is no sweeter than a Chianti or a Bordeaux. In fact, “dolcetto” takes its name from the Piemontese hills that are named, in dialect, Duzzet. Piemonte, or Piedmont, is…

Living in Bra, Italy in the Piemonte region provides access to many small, surrounding Italian villages. Each one boasts a fine, regional wine: Barbera d’Asti, Grignolino, Barolo and Barbaresco to name a few. One fine, sunny Sunday, some friends and I found ourselves in Verduno, the land of Pelaverga Rosso DOC. This is a fairly…

W is for white cauliflower: White cavolfiore (cauliflower) is widely and internationally known, such a common vegetable that the average dinner-partier does not think twice about the origins of that hard, bumpy, white vegetable among the others on the veggie and dip platter. The white cauliflower is actually relatively new in terms of cultivated plants…

V is for vitellone bianco dell’apennine centrale IGP: The Vitellone Bianco dell’Apennine Centrale IGP, or white veal of the Central Apennine mountain range of Protected Geographic Origin, is superior quality veal that is raised in Campania near the Apennine mountain range. The cattle and steer are also raised in other Italian regions near the Apennines,…

U is for uova ‘mpriatorio: Uova ‘Mpriatorio (oo-oh-vah m-pree-ah-tor-ee-oh) is a simple Neapolitan dish that features a sizzling red tomato sauce with two or more sunny-side up eggs cracked into it, served with a hunk of bread to sop up the good juices. It is an expression of the Neapolitan and Campanian way of utilizing…

T is for torrone: Torrone (tor-rone-eh) has been called “Italy’s candy bar,” with its sweet nougat and nut confection that is the inspiration for Toblerone and Mars candy. A typical recipe includes white sugar and honey, egg whites, and almonds, hazelnuts or pistachios (or a delicious nutty mix). Various spices are optional, and each Italian…

S is for Sfogliatelle: This sweet symbol of Naples is seen all over Italy and is as popular today as it was 400 years ago. The sfogliatella (singular of sfogliatelle: sfol-ee-ah-tell-eh) is a filled pastry with a characteristic seashell shape and a cascade of delicate ridges, which form as the layers of dough separate during…

R is for Ragù alla genovese: Despite its name, Ragù alla genovese is eaten exclusively in Naples. This oniony meat sauce is hardly known outside of the area, in fact – unless a Neapolitan cook happens to move to another Italian region, bringing with him this rich pasta sauce. The basic ingredients of the pasta…

Q is for Quaglia di Capri: A traditionally popular and economically valuable dish of the island of Capri has been the quail. The common quail, Coturnix coturnix, is a small bird in the pheasant family with rusty red plumage mottled in black and white. Historically, Capri depended on quail hunting as a large part of…

P is for Patata novella: The image of Italy may recall baskets of tomatoes, plates of pasta, fragrant basil bouquets, and platters of hard and fresh cheeses. It is perhaps surprising, then, to learn that the humble potato is one of Italy’s most widely cultivated vegetables, second in national production only to the tomato. It…

O is for Olive Pisciottane: The olives of Pisciotto, Salerno are possibly the oldest olive variety in Italy. This ancient olive comes from a medieval town that dates back to at least 900 A.D, when it was called Pixote and later Buxentum. Today, in the Cilento e Vallo di Diano National Park, numerous olive varieties…

M is for mozzarella di bufala campana DOP: Mozzarella cheese has been carried around the world gracing the hot surface of pizza. But, real mozzarella is much more than the bags of shredded pizza cheese and the hard, flavorless, white balls of industrially-produced mozzarella. Mozzarella di bufala campana DOP is creamy, soft and moist, with…

L is for limone: The IGP limone of southern Italy, Campania is known as the best lemon in the country. Vibrant yellow with thick skins and juicy innards, especially rich in essential oils and Vitamin C, these lemons are versatile and distinctive. They make tangy desserts, such as tarts, babà al limoncello, granita and delizia…

K is for kaki: The kaki vaniglia fruit, also spelled “cachi” or “caco,” is a persimmon. Persimmons range from bright yellow to deep orange to red-orange, with slight variations in size: oval and longish to round and circular, bringing to mind a slightly orange tomato. Kaki can be found in the United States in supermarkets,…

J is for Jellied Pork: Jellied pork, or gelatina di maiale, has a strong Irpinian heritage, specifically in the Upper Valley of the Calore River. In the local dialect it is Ilatina ‘r puorcu. Jellied pork was, at a time when the majority of Italy’s population did not have access to abundant food like today,…

I is for impepata di cozze: Fresh seafood in Campania is an abundant treat that southern Italians are fortunate enough to enjoy daily. Cozze, or mussels, are part of the cornucopia of seafood that Italians call frutti di mare, or fruits of the sea. Cozze have a fresh, delicate flavor that should be subtly enhanced…

H is for hazelnut: Campania is Italy’s oldest hazelnut-growing region. From 3 BC, Ancient Romans have attested to its tasty crunch through frescoes of hazelnut trees uncovered in Herculaneum. Carbon dating of ancient tree samples reveal that today’s little brown nocciola (no-cho-la) is quite similar to what Ancient Romans snacked on. The hazelnut’s versatility in…

  We asked many of our native Italian friends for the meaning of fuia fuia in this context and got a few differing answers—some said it was “fast”, as in fast to make, some said “running away” as in they will vanish quickly, others saying “thief, thief”, as in they will be quickly stolen. After…

G is for gragnano pasta: Gragnano (grah-nyah-no) pasta IGP indicates a high-quality pasta from Gragnano, Campania, a city that has 500 solid years of traditional pasta production behind it. Gragnano is a city built for making pasta, with wide streets for hanging long strands of spaghetti to dry in the hot sun and salty sea…

I had purchased all the ingredients to make the sartù on page 111 of Frijenno Magnanno when it happened, my usual change-of-season cold struck. I’ve been down for 3 days. Cold pills just make me feel worse anymore so I just have to sleep it off. In lieu of actually cooking this week, I give…