TUSCAN RECIPES … today, FRIED TOMATOES “Contadina Style”
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.
If you have too many tomatoes, or tonight it is going to freeze
There is an archaeologist Inglese in this story where “she” tries to hide me (as if now I will just keep quiet and not tell more things that I know).
Behind the old mill house where that archaeologist is renting (beyond the pool with the waterfall where the beautiful Signora once swam naked) there is a big orto – a vegetable garden – in a field.
My husband, Niccolo, used to tend this for the Americans who owned the mill; but of course the archaeologist had other things to think of (I told the beautiful Signora that what God sees, everybody sees; but she did not hear!) and for that year the tomatoes were all spoiled.
Another day (of course I do not want to say this) it was the handsome young Italian — with a wife in Bologna — who came calling at the Signora’s house when she had just stepped from her bath. We will not talk about that here.
With my own tomatoes here is one thing that I do:
With some tomatoes that are just a little ripe, cut them into wedges like a lemon that you would squeeze on fish.
Take some of the corn meal ground for polenta (maybe one day I will give you also my recipe for polenta — and no, I do not grind my own meal, how much time do you think I have?) and dip the tomato pieces in fresh egg, then roll them in the meal. Plunge the pieces into olive oil when it is almost smoking (yes, olive oil, no matter what some people say!) and cook them very quickly until they are just deep gold, but inside the tomatoes are still firm.
You will already have some fresh basil torn leaves. You will already have some slices of mozzarella buffalo.
We will put all this together on pretty plates, and we will have a good light cena (supper) with maybe a little fruit splashed with vinegar balsamico to follow after – and we will forget about the confusions the Signora gets into with her new life. We will also forget about the scandal, when her uncle – who ran off to Italy when she was just a girl of thirteen — left his property to her, and left nothing to the wife he deserted long ago.
And please remember — as we say in Tuscany — “Mangiare bene é la miglior vendetta.” Eating well is the best revenge!