Italian-Americans: Dreams, Courage and Determination There is much to tell about the Italian American experience as we reflect on their contributions and accomplishments during Italian American Heritage Month. Although they endured years of discrimination, Italian immigrants proudly helped build the America we know today.Not the least of their accomplishments was the creation of a new Italian-American cuisine that has become highly influential in the American diet. This week’s menu will feature “Italian” dishes that originated in the US, paired with a wine made in Sonoma, CA by the descendants of one of the original Italian wineries in the US.
Vino - Flavors of the Harvest. There are few things that unite all Italians like the harvest of grapes. The decision of when is the right time to begin harvesting is determined by the ripeness of the grape and the state of the weather – usually in August for whites and September/October for the reds. This is the time for annual wine festivals, tours, and tastings in every grape growing region of Italy. This week’s menu celebrates the grape and its juice both in the glass and in savory authentic recipes.
Verona – Love, Opera and Valpolicella When traveling romantics make the pilgrimage to Verona to view Juliet’s balcony, they are pleasantly surprised to discover that the city is much more than feuding families and wayward lovers. Among other sites, an ancient Roman operatic amphitheater sets that stage to experience Verona’s exquisite food and world-famous wines. We will enrich the experience by rediscovering Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet; “the most exciting film of Shakespeare ever made.” (Roger Ebert)
On the Hunt: Mushroom Madness. Foraging for mushrooms is an essential part of autumn in Tuscany. This time of year it’s all about mushrooms, hunting them, eating them and talking about them. The exhilaration of the hunt – the thrill of discovering and picking wild mushrooms in an Italian forest is something I will never forget. This week’s menu highlights homemade pasta with assorted mushrooms and other Tuscan seasonal ingredients.
Leave the gun, take the cannoli! Many Italian-Americans grow up thinking the specialties prepared by their grandmothers are authentically Italian. Though certainly rooted in recipes from the “old country,” many were changed as immigrants adapted to their new home in America and to the ingredients they could find. “It is the memories and experiences the Italian immigrants brought with them, coupled with the products they found, that developed into today’s Italian-American cuisine,” says renowned Italian chef and author, Lidia Bastianich. Much of mainstream America was introduced to this immigrant culture through movies like “The Godfather.” This week’s menu highlights some of the most beloved dishes made famous by the movie.