|My papa doing his thing. My aunt (left), my daddy (right) Ma and my cousin, Valerie|
My family is sitting upon Ma's old hard wooden chairs around the ravioli table. This is in the screened back porch of Ma's (that's what everybody called my grandmother) house. The room smells of her steaming kitchen; sauteed garlic, onion and parsley . My mouth waters just thinking about it! This was the world of love and food.
Papa just harvests lettuce and onions from our garden and drizzles our own pungent vinegar in the olive oil, salt and pepper coated greens. I can see the 'mother', like floating placenta, in the the bottle as he tips the "Pigani Red Wine" jug, the label is written over in Papa's high pressured scrawl: "Devincenzi Vinegar".
|After the feast, we sleep! Me and Papa.|
|Uncle Dutch gets busy.|
There weren't many fat Italians in our family. I think it is because we were extremely choosy with what we put into our mouths. Like French women don't get fat, neither did we. We didn't own a cookbook with low-fat recipes and the concept of grabbing 'fast food' was, in our mind, idiotic, when we could go to Ma's and have her homemade lasagna with her Bolognese sauce and bechamel. The product was rich yet light to the mouth as it went in.
|My favorite cookbook.|
On Monday morning, I read Fiona's blog about comfort food and she mentioned having used cottage cheese instead of bechamel in her pasta casserole. I had an immediate flashback to Ma's kitchen and her whisking the beshamel then spooning it between layers of spinach pasta, sauce and fresh grated Parmesan. In my opinion, there is no substitute for bechamel and commented that I would send the recipe today.
For two cups bechamel, melt three tablespoons of butter in a heavy medium saucepan
over medium low heat.
Whisk in four tablespoons flour for a minute and a half. Do not brown.
Gradually add two cups of hot milk, whisking constantly until the sauce is thick as heavy cream.
About fifteen minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.