ON A SIX-WEEK STAY IN TUSCANY and while making my way through several recipe books in the cucina of my wee appartamento, I came across the English edition of “How to make Bruschette.” It is a small, paperback book unremarkable in its appearance, but with many variations on Bruschette and Crostone.*
I have enjoyed making a number of the simple recipes it contains, but I find the translation of the accompanying commentary to be the most charming aspect of this little book. The Italian passion for time-honored traditions—in all aspects of the gastronomic experience—is clearly evident in its pages, resulting in such phrases as:
“Bruschetta with truffle is a real delicacy and will certainly make your guests enthusiastic.”
(I don’t know about you, but enthusiastic dinner guests will always be welcome in my home!)
And here’s another favorite of mine:
“Don’t use oil too sparingly and if you find it necessary, add more than the suggested spoonful. If some sauce remains in the plate, you will find it pleasant for bread dipping.”
(Oh, okay. If I must.)
My daughter and I share an affinity for the Italian culture and count many dear friends in Italy. One of the numerous aspects of the culture we admire is their dedication and attention to detail in preparing even the most simple of dishes. Great care is taken to collect fresh, quality ingredients and absolutely nothing is rushed: From the shopping…to the preparation…to the enjoyment of every morsel surrounded by family and friends.
This respectful—even meditative—approach to the preparation and consumption of their food undoubtedly explains why Italians can partake of such indulgent-sounding concoctions as “Bruschetta with Bacon” and “Crostone with Cheese and Olives.”—All the while looking fabulous in their Dolce and Gabbana skinny jeans!
So I say, Down with dieting! —Let’s just Be Italian! Che ne pensate?!
How to make Bruschette (from page 7):
Bread, What a Goodness!
*Bruschetta (garlic bread) and crostone (large crouton), typical of Central Italy, but very widespread beyond its own borders, easily prepared, genuine and appetizing, may be served as starters but, if you are willing to enrich them with other ingredients, they may be served without doubt, as a first or even second course.
Even though it is true that the traditional preparation is based on oil, salt, garlic, some country cheese or vegetables, there are also many ways of creating the most unusual variants. It is just according to these possibilities that we will accompany you through the following pages, which I hope will be neither boring nor burdensome.
1 Slice Bread
1 Small Black Truffle
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1 Tablespoon Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Clean and wash the truffle thoroughly, then grate as much as needed (it depends on the quality of the truffle) into a pan, with a little oil, warm up and leave on the flame for a few instants. Then add the chopped up anchovy fillets together with the lemon juice, and mix thoroughly. Finally, toast the slice of bread and spread it with the mixture.