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“There is no sauce in the world like hunger.”

Miguel de Cervantes

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Entries in red wine (3)

Thursday
Jun292017

Oxtail Ragu, simply the best

People often ask me what my favourite food is, a ridiculous question for someone who lives to eat. I try to explain that it is like asking a musician to choose just one song, a film buff their favourite movie, a theatre critic their favourite play… and so on. 

“Well then, what about a favourite cuisine?”

Nope, can't answer that either. It all depends on my mood, the weather, where I am, what I had earlier, what I’m planning to have later, is it Saturday morning? is it Wednesday night? The list goes on.

BUT one thing I do know for sure would be on my desert island list - if someone superglued a pen to my hand, chained me to a desk and forced me to write one - is a rich and hearty, melt in the mouth, slow-cooked (I’m talking days, not hours) ragu with fresh pasta.

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Tuesday
May312016

La nonna Pettineo's ragu

For my 30th birthday my friend, Geraldine, sent me a care package from the USA, which included a handwritten recipe and photos of her nonna’s ragu. Like everyone with an Italian grandmother, she says hers makes the best. And like every Italian grandmother, hers doesn’t follow a recipe, so you have to watch her to learn it.

A few years ago, Geraldine and I got into a friendly debate about what constitutes the best ragu and what one should call it. (You can read about that here). I argued with her about it, but mostly for the sake of it. Actually, I was very keen to learn her nonna’s secrets.

When she next visited her, she watched her make it and wrote down all the details step-by-step. The recipe is written in Geraldine’s beautiful cursive handwriting and comes with lots of notes and tips:

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Friday
Apr262013

A traditional ragù from Bologna

“I hate the way they call it ‘Bolognese’ here. It’s not Bolognese, it’s ragù.  That is what they call it in Bologna" says my friend Geraldine as we peruse the lunch menu in Arbutus.

She’s French, but her father is Italian and so, more importantly, is her grandmother.

I once tried to argue with her about whether or not water must be at a rolling boil before putting pasta in it. I can’t remember what the correct answer was. I presume it was that it should be and that Geraldine was right. In her words:

“Well, I know you know a lot about food, Vicky, but I think I am going to listen to my Italian grandmother over you.”

It was a valid point, which I only admitted to her now, at least 10 years later.

Geraldine and I like to disagree. It is what our friendship was founded on. Each as stubborn as the other, and always looking for a good argument. So I had replied:

“Well, your grandmother probably makes her pasta from scratch. We’re just using dried pasta.”

Or I wished I did. I can’t remember.

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