yes, cicerchie. i know. you’ve probably never heard of it. well perhaps you have. but it was certainly new to me. a google search tells me that it dates back from roman times and was a common dish of peasants.. luckily i came across a package of these and now i am thinking that they’re perhaps my most favorite pulse ever. it’s like a wild garbanzo did it with an ear of corn – or something. maybe the field pea was involved too. i really don’t know, i wasn’t there. but this humble bean is absolutely wonderful – and ridiculously hard to come by.
in umbria a hunk of pig fat is traditionally used to prepare this dish. but i resisted using instead my best umbrian olive oil. i’m an avid fan of umbria. on my last trip to italy i spent a lot of time in assisi and orvieto and montefalco and spello… hill town after hill town, we spent time exploring – and eating. and i grew to love the region that is often overlooked by tourists in favor of the more popular tuscany. but the food in umbria really is spectacular and the olive oil, which many consider to be better than what you might find in tuscany, is comparably scarce in this country.
while on the subject of perhaps the one ingredient that i could not live without, one of my favorite olive oils comes from liguria. it’s smoother, if not gentler and more luxurious than the bold tuscans. if it were an actor it might win best supporting role. ligurian olive oil allows the other flavors of the food to shine through with just enough of the rich olive flavor to remind you just who it is…oh but that’s another post. – and most likely it will involve pesto…
i soaked the cicerchie overnight and gently boiled them for about 40 minutes with 4 fat garlic cloves, adding some salt at the end. i chopped and steamed some swiss chard, sliced some grape tomatoes, despriged some thyme and tossed it all together with salt and pepper. i wanted it to remain simple. i wanted to really get to know this bean. ok, is that weird? maybe it’s weird.
but if you really want to hear something weird, get this:
so i’m reading the ny times last sunday morning and in the style section the cover story is about gwyneth paltrow and her lifestyle website called goop (tag line = nourish the inner aspect = hee). as one might expect there are lovers and there are haters and well, i’m pretty much switzerland. whatever gwynne does is fine with me. i like her and i have decided to not hold a grudge against her, bittman or mario regarding the debacle "on the road again". i have let go of my disgust because i am trying to be more like ‘the buddha’. but anyway here’s what i read… mario, yes, our mario batali, gwynne’s bff, at the very end of this lengthy article, comments about her cooking saying "she has a great sense of proportion, which gives her food a natural balance."
and then the coffee squirted out my nose…
dear readers? is it me?