Sunday, November 25, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving/Giorno del Ringraziamento!

Clearly, this post is a bit late, but my excuse is that I've been in a tryptophan-induced state of slumber/general daze for literally the past few days. Yes, Thanksgiving did happen in Italy, although it took quite a bit of planning to make it possible. One of my teachers managed to secure a space with a full kitchen where students, teachers, and host families could enjoy Thanksgiving dinner together.

The atmosphere was a bit bleak (i.e.: concrete floors and fluorescent lighting), the weather outside was wet, and the food, while homemade, paled in comparison to most Thanksgiving meals I've had. Given the situation, it was quite good though. All the savory items were prepared by our teacher and her Italian husband, who owned several restaurants years ago. We students made the pumpkin and apple pies (with varying degrees of success).

Regardless of the quality of the food, I think I can rightly say this was one of the best Thanksgiving dinners I've experienced. The fact that my host parents, L&S, attended made all the difference - it was truly like being with family. They even partook in the turkey, potatoes, stuffing, peas, and pie, although I'm not sure they found much of it very appealing.

Perhaps to the dismay of the Italians who attended the dinner, most of the meal was straight-up traditional Thanksgiving food. However, we did enjoy some crostini before the meal and plenty of wine throughout it. Perhaps the most Italian part of the meal, however, was the side dish of Cipolline in agrodolce. In this dish, small, jewel-like onions, bathed in a sweet sauce, are cooked until silky and tender. Their mildly acidic yet sweet flavor makes them the perfect side dish. They contribute moisture to roasted turkey and they add an unexpected textural dimension when piled on top of mashed potatoes, although they stand up wonderfully on their own as well.

I failed to bring my camera to dinner, so I have no photos to share this time around, but I thought I'd post links to a couple recipes for cipolle that I found on the Food & Wine and the Serious Eats sites. Both versions are quite similar and very straightforward, but seeing as how I've never made the dish, I'm afraid I can't recommend one over the other. Use your best judgment!

Food & Wine's recipe for Cipolline in Agrodolce

Mario Batali's take, via Serious Eats

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