Italy is known for its rich history, towering monuments, and art masterpieces.
There, a piatto misto is a mixed plate that includes the familiar staples with a couple of surprises.
There is the legend that Marco Polo brought pasta to Italy from China, though Italians say he most likely brought pasta from Italy to China. Both could be correct.
In fact, the simple process of adding flour to water was a common food preparation in many early civilizations.
But Italians figured out ways to make pasta with panache, creating more than 300 varieties. Pasta is so beloved by Italians, they eat more of the stuff than anywhere else in the world: an average of 60 pounds per person every year, three times as much as Americans.
What goes well with pasta?
“Close to 120 years our family has been making cheese. We make all kinds, but our specialty is mozzarella.”
Add that to marinara and you’ve got pizza, which isn’t originally Italian. The Greeks first rolled pita dough into a handy snack pack. Italians did the same, but flattened the dough and slathered it with mozzarella and marinara, and ecco la, pita became pizza.
A lesser known Italian staple: lemons.
“We have lemons almost all year, the best time is now. The flavor is intense. If you would go into my lemon garden you would go crazy.”
With just today’s harvest, he’s made lemon rosemary ricotta ravioli, and lemon gelato in a lemon rind bucket, all served with the stunning view of the Amalfi coast.
Of course, along the Mediterranean, there’s also the cuisines of Croatia, Montenegro, and Greece.
We’ll do a fair amount of sampling in Mixed Plate Mediterranean, Wednesday, Nov. 21, at 9:30 p.m. on KHON2.