TUSCAN RECIPES … today, “Mozzarella in a Blanket”
Nonna Margherita Dottorelli in her kitchen, 1905
Some excellent Tuscan recipes from her granddaughter, Marta, who refuses to be just a character in a novel made up by that writer
Now a Good Meal To Settle the Nerves
BUT I did not like the way the Signora looked at me — when she came in and found I had stopped vacuuming for a moment to turn the pages of her book with paintings of her travelling in the Amazon.
Her expression said that I had found the book inside her suitcase, not yet unpacked.
Allora? And if so?
If I had found the case left carelessly wide open, the beautiful book half on the floor, why could I be wrong to pick it up?
If I had become lost in the beauty of her paintings of the orchids so endangered? … If I had never dreamed that the heir of my now dead employer would have such talent … Was this then right, that she should give me such a look?
Of course immediately her face put on a smile.
In her suitcase she found a second copy of the lovely book. She pretended that she had brought it just for me, all the way from Canada. She put her signature inside, for me and for Niccolo.
And I could not help feeling proud when that afternoon I took it home.
But when I sat at my own table — when I remembered how she had imagined that I (Marta Dottorelli!) would pry into her things! – also, before that, how when she came in from painting, that she might have imagined that I (Marta Dottorelli!) was responsible for the way a note, brought by Courier, had somehow slipped from its envelope, to leave me holding it in my hands! Che vergogna! What shame, to be so misunderstood!
Have I told you that I sometimes have the “nerves”?
That my mother had them also?
But my mother also left me her excellent recetta to make when the life, for a moment, is not playing the right tune. On such moments, you will like to make it too.
Mozzarella in a Blanket
(This will be enough for Niccollo and me, because when he comes in from the vineyard he is very hungry – though for you it might be better to do a little less.)
Take three nice eggs and beat them with a fork, in a wide shallow bowl.
— Have ready in another flat bowl, a cup of milk.
— Also, a cup of flour.
— Take twelve slices of our good left-over bread.
— Then six large slices of mozzarella buffalo the same size as the bread.
— Take some chopped black olives, and if you like, also some filets of anchovies. Put a slice of mozzarella on six slices. Press on the other delicious things.
— Make sandwiches with the other slices of bread on top. Dip the sandwiches in the milk and then in the flour. Then let them soak a little, in the beaten egg with salt.
You will already have a wide pan holding olive oil perhaps as deep as your fingernail (but do not dip your finger) which you are heating until it gives almost smoke.
— Put all the sandwiches in the pan and cook on one side, then another, until they are the colour of ripe corn.
— Then when your husband pours a nice glass of the dark wine that he has made himself (from the vines that now belong to the Signora!) and together you sit down to eat, and you tell him the story of your day – and warn him that with the Signora he should careful, for it is not always good to believe her beautiful smiles! You will feel your nerves become again content and quiet.