International Cooking in Italy

by Tina Ferrari

Yes, yes, I know.  I live in Paradise, the land of the best pasta, coffee, wine, ice cream, etc. in the world, so why would I ever crave any other food?

Well, as much as I love the variety here, sometimes I miss things that I would eat at home in the States.  When I was living in Argentina, a good friend of mine, Joli, found a great recipe for flour tortillas.  Since there isn’t much variety in the food down there, it was a delight to be a guest in her house and be able to eat things such as fajitas or tacos. Things you just don’t find in Buenos Aires, and things you certainly don’t find in Lecce, Italy.

This week I am visiting a friend in Bari, which is just a couple hours north of Lecce, and I decided I wanted to prepare a meal as a sign of gratitude.  Well, we all know how Italians are when it comes to tasting other people’s cooking.  I’m always afraid to make traditional dishes here because on top of the “buono, buono!” I have to listen to “It needs more salt”, and “You make a good sauce, for an American”…  I seem to have the most luck when I prepare things that are not Italian.  My Italian friends rave about my international cooking and I find that they are always open and interested in trying new things.  Since I’m the straniera, foreigner, it’s probably more exciting and fun if I bring something new to the table.

Today I prepared fajitas, using the recipe Joli uses for tortillas.  You can find it here, and you’ll see that it’s quite easy.  For filling, I cut up small slices of beef, a couple of bell peppers, an onion, and since this is Southern Italy, a peperoncino, chili pepper, for spice.  I sauteed those together.  You can’t get sour cream in Italy, at least not here in the south, so I used Fage Total yogurt as it makes the best substitute for sour cream.

My friend and his daughter had fun putting the fajitas together, and I enjoyed sharing something new with them.

What are some recipes you simply can’t do without in your adopted country?

Tina Ferrari is a tango dancer, translator and writer currently based in Lecce, Italy. She writes as well as on her own blog,Tina Tangos. Comments are always welcome!

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