People and cultures have been sharing culinary ideas for centuries. If you or your community discovered the best way to eat a tomato, why would you keep that from neighbors? This concept of gastronomical sharing can take place on the small scale like a community sponsored cook book (see: The Junior League’s series of Southern Cookbooks) or on a large scale such as what happened to Italian food.
I say Italian food is a large scale “sharing” with some hesitation, because at this point in time, our globalized world has not so much as borrowed Italian techniques, ingredients, and culture, rather we’ve assimilated it to our own cultures. We’ve taken what once was “traditional” and, despite what many claim as “authentic,” made it a fusion between our own home cuisine and Italian. That’s why when you go to Italy, the food tastes different, and generally much better.
This isn’t unique to just Italian, but rather the major international cuisines. These are the cuisines that “made it big” and became gastronomical icons. Italian. French. Chinese. Thai. Mexican. These are the cuisines that have slipped their way into others like invasive species, but are welcomed guests.
Despite my rants or thoughts on Italian and the culinary giant that it is, I love Italian food. I spent a good six months in Florence (and consequently around Tuscany) eating my way through tradition. It was the fresh ingredients, and the light spicing. The ample portions, and relaxed food culture. It was every stereotype, and none of the drawbacks. Italian food has locked itself up in my heart, and will not escape.
So as I continue my quest to diversify my eateries and eatings here in Korea, my obvious choice was Italian. The only problem, though, is that Korea’s done the same adopting and adapting of Italian food as most of the world has. Here, it’s date food that’s way overpriced and never quite right.
With Italian Muses singing sweet nothings into my mind’s ear, I happily went to my market and consequently my kitchen toting flour, eggs, salt, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, green peppers, garlic (lots of garlic), and mixed greens.
This little adventure made strange connections in my memory, because I had flashbacks all throughout remembering the small market near Santa Croce where I’d walk every other day to pick up the freshest zucchini, apples and a bottle of wine. In Korea, it’s almost the same: I walk to my little market to grab veggies, another to grab my fruits, and one more to grab wine.
But in Italy I was lucky enough to have fresh pasta being made all around me. Here, I have to fend for myself. And fend I do. Here’s one for the globalization record books: Italian with Korean ingredients.
Homemade dough (egg well and all) served as my ravioli pillow all stuffed with diced, garliced, salted, peppered, and sautéed zucchini and eggplant. These little pillows of joy were topped with homemade cherry tomato sauce boasting a strong garlic and jalapeño flavor and a pinch of brown sugar for color deepening and heightened flavor. This delectable main was accompanied by the greenest of salads: baby greens with green peppers drizzled with oil and pinched with salt.
Simple. Quick. Fresh. Italian by any other name.
1 ¼ cup flour
Drizzles of Olive Oil
Warm Water (just to moisten the dough, if necessary)
Salt to taste
Dump all the flour onto a clean countertop, and make a “well” for your egg. Scramble the egg in the middle of your well and proceed to fold in the flour, thoroughly mixing all of the ingredients together (your hands will get dirty). After you’ve mixed all of these together, knead for a few minutes, and let sit for the amount of time it takes you to chop up your filling, sautee it, and bring water to a boil. Roll out with a rolling pin, pasta maker, or a floured water bottle to about ¼ inch thickness. Cut into wide strips that will become your ravioli. I bet you can do this in less than 45 minutes. Ready? Set. Go.