Well, not literally but in a culinary sense. After much anticipation discussing various coobooks that I wanted, my daughter gave me Fuchsia Dunlop’s masterpiece Chinese cookbook, “Land of Plenty” for the holidays, among others. As soon as I could get myself to Manhattan I headed for Chinatown and, armed with a long shopping list of some uniquely foreign ingredients, I picked up every item I could get my hands on and vowed to start cooking from Ms. Dunlop’s cookbook. After making several Asian-inspired dishes with my new found ingredients, like a spicy duck and bok choi dinner or a Tom Yum noodle soup with woodear mushrooms and fish, I happened to reference a recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, “Sicilian Home Cooking” by Wanda and Giovanna Tornabene … and that was that. I simply could not put it down! As I got more into the cookbook, I realized it contained some of my favorite childhood foods and, at times, slightly different versions of foods I had not eaten since my younger years in Sicily.
How exciting, I thought! So after another shopping excursion, albeit for more familiar ingredients, I began cooking up a veritable Sicilian storm, all along evoking wonderful childhood food memories and creating new ones by revisiting traditional recipes with a new flair or by adding or omitting certain ingredients. Last night’s new take on Chicken Parmigiana was absolutely delectable, with capers in the fresh sauce and four cheeses melted on the breaded, sautéed chicken. Tonight I will prepare Bruschetta with Swordfish and mint, as well as Couscous alla Trapanese, originating from Trapani, my paternal grandfather’s birth place. I can still remember him cooking his seafood couscous with fish stock when I was younger and how happy that made him. What about my Chinese culinary extravaganza? I guess it will have to wait until I’m done with Sicily.