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9/30/2011

ROME. STORIES OF HEROES AND GREAT EMPERORS

A few hundred meters from the Altare della Patria (Altar of the Homeland), in Rome, we have the opportunity to stay among the treasures of an archaeological site known as the Roman Forum (or Imperial Forum). 



Here we find a large concentration of ruins, dating back to ancient "Roma Caput Mundi" (ancients used to call Rome “capital of the world”). Right where every day thousands of tourists and locals walk peacefully, unaware of the many myths born right here, in this ancient site.


Among the many legends there is one which was considered archaic even in the times of the historian Tito Livio (Livy), and that speaks right about this charming part of town.


Stories of heroes ...
 

We are in the period of the wars between the Romans and the Sabins, shortly after the founding of Rome (which took place in 753 BC). The Roman Forum is still a swampy area and Mezio Curzio (Metius Curtius),  great general of the Sabin army, remains mired in the quicksand whit his horse falling into a ditch, 
which has since taken the name of "Lacus Curtius" 
(the lake of Curtius ).



Long time after the tragic event the swamp is drained, the Lacus Curtius
is filled with earth and becomes a sacred place.

Approximately in 393 BC, probably due to a natural event, suddenly it reopens the old ditch, 
discovering a deep chasm.

All of this is attributed a divine origin. 
The wise oracles say that the gods are angry with the inhabitants of the city. 
They agree that, to appease the wrath of God, during a solemn ceremony will have to throw into the crevasse the most precious thing for the city of Rome.




Different value offerings and sacrificial victims are thrown into the deep hole on the ground,  but with no result. 
Marcus Curtius, the bravest soldier of the Roman Empire, 
has a hunch: the most important thing for Rome is 
its powerful and great army. 
And decides to sacrifice himself, jumping with his horse 
into the chasm, which immediately closes.



In this way the gods wanted to even the score,
calling for the sacrifice of a brave leader of the Roman Empire who followed his ancient Sabin predecessor. 
And the name Curtius (Curzio) indicates that both of them soldiers belonged to the same gens (the race), the Sabins.



Today we know that legends always hide a kernel of truth.

Lacus Curtius
In fact, during excavations that took place in one of the oldest areas of the Roman Forum, holy Lacus Curtius has come to light, after many centuries. In its vicinity there is also a marble stele that illustrates the legend.



 
.... And great emperors
 

According to the Official History Gaius Julius Caesar was killed on the Ides of March (March 15, 44 BC), during a meeting of Senate held at the Curia of Pompey, in the Campus Martius.

The ancient "crime scene" still can be widely seen in Largo Torre Argentina at the heart of Rome. 
But not all the people who pass by here every day know about this fact.

View of the archaeological park in Largo Torre Argentina
Murders whom took part in the conspiracy, were his political enemies with whom Caesar was merciful, and his closest friends, in whom he trusted and to whom he had given riches and honors.

They killed their Emperor all together by 23 stab wounds, leaving him bleeding to death, on the floor.

Just the faithful servants brought the body home.



The funeral of the great emperor was celebrated at the Imperial Forum, in front of the Roman people and his loyal army.

A sacred chapel, which reproduced the shapes of the temple of Venus Genetrix, was built in front of the stands, occupied by magistrates (the highest political office in Rome, after the Emperor). 
Inside the holy shrine was exposed the bloody robe weared by the Emperor when he was killed.



Caesar's body was taken, by the Magistrates, on a precious casket of purple, gold and ivory and was placed inside the temple.

They discussed whether to cremate the body, in the temple of Jupiter or the Curia of Pompey.

Suddenly two men with the sword at their side, threw two lighted candles on the coffin.

Then the people fueled the fire, destroying the wooden grandstands made for the funeral. 


The legions of veterans threw their weapons into the flames, the matrons their jewelry, musicians and actors, who had represented the ancestors of the deceased, they burned the clothes worn for the last triumph of Caesar.

Even foreigners took part to the stake, especially Jews, grateful to Caesar who had delivered them from the harassment of Pompey.

Gaius Julius Caesar
People took the embers and was directed towards the houses of Brutus and Cassius (the assassins) to fire both of them, 
but  they were hampered by the soldiers.

All this happened right into the Roman Forum, and it’s always exciting walking through those streets, imagining the history of Rome.


The remains of the temple of Caesar, were discovered at the end of 1800 and are still visible, if you look good around every little stone of the Imperial Forum.

The ancient altar of Caesar is always there to protect his tomb where, even today, someone venerates the greatest Roman Emperor placing flowers for him. 

Caesar's tomb

SOME RECIPES RIGHT FROM ANCIENT ROMANS....
HERBAL CHEESE
Chop together fresh pecorino cheese and fresh cheese (eg. ricotta cheese of the Roman type) in a ratio of 1/3 of cheese and 2/3 of cream cheese.
Add a sprig of savory dough, a little rue (failing use parsley and celery leaves), some green coriander leaf, a stalk of celery, a couple of spring onions, a few leaves of arugula and lettuce,
a pinch of thyme and mint. Mix all with oil
Finally add a little bit of vinegar and crushed pepper.




EPITYRUM
Chop black olives and pit
using a mixer
Possibly use very large ones and dried (the Sicilians "passolone", for example, or similar)
Slowly add a little bit of oil and vinegar.  
Then add a pinch of rue (if available, otherwise you can replace with a little parsley and celery leaves), coriander seeds, cumin, wild fennel, mint.  
In this way Will be formed a kind of pâté that can be stored for longer in a glass jar, in the fridge.
You can also use the Epityrum
mixed with whole olives of the same type.

https://amorbis.infusionsoft.com/go/tin/conniermn/



9/26/2011

AN ANCIENT FARMER’S RITE: PIEMONTE’S MIXED FRY


The origins of this dish are so distant that they are almost untraceable, since the Middle Ages, a time when collective feasts and banquets marked the passage of the seasons, to propitiate and celebrate the produces of the land of farmers and ranchers.


In the mixed fry we find different ingredients including meat, fruit and vegetables, all well combined in an ancient  and original plate. 

A treasure of sweet and savory golden nuggets, 
breaded and fried in olive oil.



The recipe that join the genuine soul of Piemonte’s people and the Baroque taste of food, made ​​of simple ingredients but with strong and characteristic tastes, considering also the high nutritional value, according to the traditional local cuisine.
It's the example that best illustrates 
the golden rule of our great chefs:

in the kitchen do not throw anything away.
The birth of this fry is linked to the archaic time of slaughter.
In the Middle Ages one should not waste anything of the animal, and each family then proceeded with the subdivision of every part of it, even the most perishable 
 like kidneys, sweetbreads, testicles, brain, liver (fricassà neira) and lungs (fricassà bianca). 
To these were added small pieces of meat, chunks of ham, loin and slices of black pudding.

To complete the work came the vegetables: apple slices and sweet semolina (polenta dolce).

All was meticulously cut into small pieces, cooked and served in a great lunch of celebration following the day of slaughter.

Considered one of the best ancient dishes of Piemonte’s kitchen, the  mixed fry is the only one in Italy, to join sweet and savory foods in such great variety, 
matching typical  of Renaissance cuisine.  
Every area of Piemonte, in time, 
it has developed a personal recipe.



 
In ancient cookbook  "The Piemontese chef", there are at least 15 different variants, mostly sweet, with the addition of lime water, candied fruit and, custom now in oblivion, a grape leaf to wrap the dish.
Suppose we want to prepare the mixed fry for a day of celebration, as our ancestors used to do.

ANCIENT MIXED FRY OF ASTI



Ingredients (serves 6): 
6 slices of calf's lung, 3 hectograms of minced veal or beef, 6 slices of veal liver, veal steaks, 6, 2 pork brains, 10 pieces of sausage, 3 hectograms of carrots, 6 soft macaroons, 2 hectograms of sugar, 2 hectograms of semolina flour, 4 eggs, one lemon, bread crumbs, a half liter of milk, salt, olive oil, flour.
Preparation: 
The sweet semolina is prepared the night before lunch.

Bring to boil the milk with sugar and lemon rind, add the semolina flour stirring constantly to rain stir the mix.  
Then pour into a pan and let stand overnight.



The next morning boil carrots and brains for a few minutes and drain.

Cut all the meat (the brains too) into slices, diced semolina, carrots into strips.

Prepare the meatballs separately with the ground beef, beaten eggs and breadcrumbs.

Flour the liver and the macaroons.

Beat the eggs and dive all the ingredients into the eggs:

 amarettos, meatballs, lungs, brains, liver, carrots, sweet semolina. 
Then drain well and plunge them in the breadcrumbs.

Bring to the point of frying oil in different pans of iron and dive into the ingredients, separating the sweet from salty.

Serve the dish hot, accompanied by a slice of lemon or a green sauce.




Here’s a variant, to prepare a truly great family meal 
on a holiday.

MIXED FRY OF MONFERRATO LANDS


Ingredients for 12 persons
600 grams of veal liver, 400 grams of small sausage, 2 calf brains, one spleen, 1 kg of apples, 1 cauliflower, 12 sprigs of sage, 12 zucchini flowers, 12 pieces of sweet semolina (see recipe above), 12 macaroons, 3 eggs, milk, 200 grams of flour, 200 grams of bread crumbs, 1 small glass of Marsala wine, 1 glass of dry white wine, salt, 1 lemon, 3 liters of extra virgin olive oil or 3 kg of lard. 



Preparation:

For the batter to dive into the cauliflower, sage, apple slices and zucchini flowers:

mix eggs, flour, milk or white wine.

Add, if you like a splash of Marsala, lemon zest and spices to taste.

The cubes of sweet semolina, the brains and spleens (previously boiled) and everything else you must go into flour, then egg and finally in breadcrumbs.

The macaroons are softened by spraying with a little 'of Marsala and then put them in flour, eggs and breadcrumbs like meat.

All the ingredients are fried, the sweet first and then the salty, in hot oil in frying pan.

Liver sausage is browned flour and separately.

Add salt after cooking.

The dish is served hot with a slice of lemon.



There are many modern variations of the recipe, the result of invention and ingenuity of “brave cooks”.

You can find many added ingredients: rack of lamb, breast of chicken, rabbit liver, kidney, meat balls mixed (red and white), eggplant, mushrooms, zucchini, fennel, artichokes and broad beans. Among the surprises of golden fry you may also find pineapple, grapes, special cookies stuffed with chocolate, sweet semolina cocoa flavoured, and who knows what else. 



The secret of the chef is the combination of the right amounts for each ingredient.

But the alchemy of the fry is a fundamental task: the pan must be made ​​of iron and oil, plenty of boiling, it should be changed often.

 Only this way we’ll taste a mixed fry of golden, delicious, light and harmonious flavors.




 
Generally this is considered a main dish, combined with an outline based on polenta or spinachs and carrots in butter, but you may also like dish with sausage and cheese came strictly from Piemonte.
The recommended wines are the reds with complex flavors:  
Barbera, Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, Barbaresco, Barolo or Freisa.





9/19/2011

SARDINIA. LANDSCAPES TO HEAL OUR SOUL


Many people think that Sardinia is 
one of the most beautiful islands in the Mediterranean; 
a place where every year the world's millionaires and VIPs come crowding several sides of the coast 
with luxurious yachts and boats of all kinds. 

Chia beach

 
Warning: this is not the real Sardinia.
Indeed, according to most of Sardis (true Sardis), this has contributed to ruining what of most fascinating this island offers: its ancient soul and its History.

  

But the real travellers are humble, attentive and curious. 
They could come up here and have the opportunity to address a special path, in search of divine landscapes, that Time and the Earth offer to lovers of deeper Beauty. 


The inhabitants of Sardinia were probably the first monotheistic civilizations of mankind.
They were it already in the Neolithic times.
 They practiced Agrarian rituals long before the other peoples of the Mediterranean; they knew the steel industry, architecture, astronomy and were able to follow precisely the rhythm of the seasons.
Not only: the ancient Sardinia inhabitants were practicing the cult of dead heroes and were the first to experience the care of sleep, 
to improve the physical well-being. 
Sardis also used to save rain water or spring water, 
considered sacred, in wells, creating a veritable cult of water.


Even more interesting is that, without knowing scientifically the power of terrestrial magnetism, Sardinia's people understood its healing properties. They knew that exposure to this natural energy source was able to heal the psyche.



Well, this is the specific function given by the Sardinians to "Tombs of the Giants", 
in both the north and south of this large island: 
a therapeutic function.
From the sky the graves are all very similar to one another, in the form of bull's head. The center of the exedra is identified among the horns. This is the place where men used to come for health treatment. 
Domus de Janas,  in Arzachena
 A shaman priest was administering them a magic potion and they fell asleep at the base of the stele, dreaming of heroes who came to their aid and which they revealed their fears. So, they wake up serene and reconciled with themselves. 
Is Conchas, in Quartucciu
Still now be at or admire a Nuraghe, a sacred well, or walk inside a cave carved by water over thousands of years it’s, for the most sensitive people, the opportunity to get in touch with an ancient divine place and feel the power flowing inside the body.





Ancient olive tree
Maybe it’s the magic of the extraordinary landscape, its ever-changing light and colors, maybe it’s because of the energy emanating from the earth in these places, but all this will make you feel different: the strongest in body and soul. Like the ancient Sardis heroes. 


There are at least four ways 
to encounter the mystical power of this island ....



In the first path you come to the Margin, the area where you can find the Nuraghe, the ancient exedra, shaped at head of a bull, and the mythical passage to the afterlife. On this area you find a 3000 years old well: a temple linked to the course of the stars in the sky, the place chosen for the worship of water.


Nuraghe
 
Another possible route is through the Supramonte, a vast limestone plateau between the municipalities of Oliena, Orgosolo, Urzulei, Baunei, and Dorgali. A massive uninhabited and wild, full of canyons, caves and forests. Fascinating sights, smell of vegetation, brightly colored rocks, primitive and magnificent landscapes. This is the magic of Supramonte, whose territories are considered one of Europe's most beautiful natural areas.



Gallura, the land of granite and wind, is an area famous for its rich Costa Smeralda, whose hinterland is less know.
Here are the "tafoni", natural cavities in the granite modelled by natural elements, where the primitive men were protected from the weather. Among the  nature survive ancient places of worship. Here stands, facing the east, the tomb of the giants of "Li Mizzani" used since ancient times as a place for healing and that still preserves its charm and its secrets. And yet the temple and the source of Malchittu and San Santino source; places considered sacred by the ancient Christians too.


Barbagia is the innermost and wild zone in Sardinia. Here the landscapes are now inaccessible and mountainous, now in large open spaces almost entirely uninhabited. In Barbagia’s archaeological zone are hidden some of the most characteristic sites. The proto-Sardis mysterious civilization creative of the Nuraghe, choose these areas as protected from invasion of the island planned by Romans colonization, actively resisting and perpetuating the ancient culture. 
Religious rests are still visible on the village "Su Romanzesu", the healing source of "Sedda e Sos Carros", the tomb of the giants of "Ena and Thomes" and the Nuraghe Loelle. The road also runs through some of the most important places of the Island, as the great karst resurgence of "Su Cologone", the impressive cave of "Sa Oghe" in the picturesque valley of "Lanaittu", the vast and lonely rocky plateau named Ala of Sardis and Buddusò.

 

At the end of the journey the most prepared and careful, the most sensitive to the beauty of these lands will see increased their energy, intuition, and many of those qualities hidden in our souls, not all of which we have awareness. 

 
CASSOLA 


Ingredients:

1 kg of mixed fish:

mullet, cuttlefish, bream, octopus, eel, clams, mussels, scorpion fish, conger eel, a small lobster, etc..
500 g of peeled tomatoes

dry white wine

2 cloves of garlic

1 onion

hot pepper

parsley

basil

some slices of rustic bread

extra virgin olive oil

salt

Preparation:

Clean the clams and mussels well.

Clean well the whole fish, wash in cold water and chop.

Put the clams and mussels in a pan with a little oil and half a glass of wine and let them open. Remove clams and mussels from the heat and set aside.
Mince garlic and onions, let them brown in a pan with 5 tablespoons of oil. A pinch of crushed red pepper together, mix and cook for about 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes cut into small pieces, add a pinch of salt and cook for 10 minutes.
Add the fish and let it flavour in the sauce, stirring well. Then add a bit of salt, cover with hot water and cook for about 45 minutes.
Join to the soup open mussels and clams, then add washed and chopped parsley and basil.

Cook for 5 minutes, then serve the cassola with the rustic bread slices, heated in the oven, rubbed with a clove of garlic and, if you like, with the chili.