While researching ramps I stumbled across a fascinating Italian word: Scorpacciata
As Central Pennsylvania shakes off its winter hibernation, it seems like the perfect word to discuss further.
Pronounced “score-POTCH-chee-yatta,” it is translated as “big feed.” But according to chef Mario Batali, a better definition is the practice of eating large quantities of a particular ingredient while it is at its local peak of deliciousness. This means eating fresh, local ramps in as many ways possible until they disappear for the season. Then you move onto the next local delicacy, chowing down on the circle of the seasons.
A few days after my initial brush with “scorpacciata,” Tim, my favorite NYTimes addict, sent along a link featuring, guess who, Mario Batali. The chef was raving about his current scorpacciata sandwich: crisp soft-shell crabs with sautéed ramps and dressed with a homemade tartar sauce all tucked into a bun. (He suggested it be coupled with either Chablis or a cold Pilsner Urquell.) Meanwhile, aforementioned Tim spent last month tapping maple trees and enjoying maple syrup scorpacciata—topping pancakes and oatmeal, as well as experimenting with maple cocktails during a lacrosse tailgate! We’re talking drinking your big feed…
I’m enjoying tamer stuff—sautéed ramps, roasted ramps, ramps a la stir-fry, ramps a la coleslaw. As I was weeding our new asparagus patch, I saw an elegant spear of Purple Passion pushing through the soil, calling to me, “Scorpacciata, Scorpacciata.” On the other side of the split-rail fence, the Mara de Bois strawberry plants are whispering, “scorpacciata, scorpacciata.”
Perhaps it is a mix of my Italian blood and my farming passion, but I’ve been a follower of the scorpacciata philosophy long before knowing the word or the concept. My kids will tell you I’ve always been a tomato snob. If it didn’t grow in my garden, it gets pushed to the side of my salad plate and remains uneaten. Those pale, juice-less, Styrofoam slices of what most restaurants and supermarkets call tomatoes are not TOMATOES. This year, it will be different. I’m taking tomato snob-dom to higher heights. Besides my usual Green Zebras , Yellow Brandywines and St. Pierres, I’ve got a flock of wonderful seedlings thanks to my father’s Italian cousin Settimio: Vari-Misti, Blu, Ciliegino and Cour di Bue. Summer, when it comes, will be my big feed, tomato style. Laurie Lynch
Blog Around the World: I’m still a newbie in blog technology but I accidentally bumped into an interesting statistic—where in the world Fleur-de-Blog “hits” originate. Here are the countries in my WordPress history: Algeria, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Nepal, Netherlands, Panama, Peru, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom. With family and friends around the globe, I can understand several of the locations. But Algeria? Nepal? Turkey? I’m puzzled.
A Brick in the Stomach: Talk about being puzzled. Marina tells me that Belgians have a common expression, “Une brique dans le ventre.” This is no lump in the throat, but tonnage in the tummy. The saying means Belgians are born wanting to own/build a home, and to be “settled.” That is why a Belgian television show that features architecture and design is named “Une Brique Dans Le Ventre.” The show recently featured Marina’s au pair family’s new venture, an elegant B&B in Liege. If you would like to take a peak, check out the link below:
You will see blonde Denise giving a tour of the B&B, mustachioed Benoit chatting it up, Emelie playing piano, and Jeanne bouncing on a trampoline, a young beauty of 8 who was Marina’s charge as a toddler.
Bricks of Wisdom: “We build on foundations we did not lay. We warm ourselves by fires we did not light. We sit in the shade of trees we did not plant. We learn from persons we did not know. We are ever bound in community.” –Rev. Peter S. Raible