Fellini…A Love Story

“Life is a combination of magic and pasta. ”

~Federico Felini


We barked up the right tree…

Al Fresco dining at La Palazzina

Once there was a slab of tree that became a beautiful, well-used outdoor dining table. It now sits under the pergola at our home in Sansepolcro in eastern Tuscany, Italy. We asked master cabinetmaker, Arnaldo Granci, from an Umbrian town down the road Citta di Castello, to make us a table that would seat the whole family. When I first saw the wood, it was resting on two saw horses as an enormous slice from the center of a giant tree, bark still attached to the sides as you can see. Two days later, Arnaldo delivered it to our house complete with 12 chairs and a smile of triumph.  We can actually seat 14. We live around this table in the summer.

I Heart Marcella Hazan

The photo of Marcella Hazan that appeared in her first cookbook.

Photo by Jane Arnold

Although Marcella Hazan passed away more than a year ago, and since my blog is fairly new, this is my first chance to pay tribute to this great lady. During the last quarter of the last century, it was Marcella who taught Americans how to cook simple, traditional Italian food.

I’ll set the stage when Marcella first came into my life. I was single and living in Los Angeles and could barely cook anything. I had about 5-6 index cards with some of my mother’s recipes and a cookbook she had recently sent me for my birthday, Betty Crocker’s Cookbook. This is the orange one with the three-hole punch pages and the pretty pictures. Pot roast, cheesecake, brownies, etc. Traditional Amercan fare. I still have it. I still like it.

Saltimbocca alla Romana

Saltimbocca means “jump in your mouth” because the dish is just so good, that’s what this recipe seems to do.

In this dish, thin slices of veal are “married” (maritati) with thin slices of ham, usually prosciutto, and a sage leaf.  All held together with a wooden toothpick.  They are then sauteed in oil, butter and white wine and that’s when it just jumps in your mouth!  Simple as that.

The Romans consider saltimbocca a quintessential Roman dish.  However, the veal/ham marriage has popped up in various other regions of Italy in various other versions in the history of Italian cuisine.  I’m content to let these regions duke it out for claims as to the origin of this dish.  In the meantime, enjoy making this delicious 6-ingredient main course.