Torrisi. Italian specialties
- Words and photos by Carla Capalbo
A few years ago I took my Italian Ameri- can aunt out to dinner in Tuscany. She was born in Pennsylvania to Sicilian and Calabrian parents and this was her first trip to Italy. We ate typically Florentine dishes: crostini topped with chicken liv- ers and bitter greens, and pappardelle with wild boar. My aunt seemed confused: “This isn’t like the Italian food we eat at home,” she said. “Where’s the red sauce?”
I shouldn’t have been surprised. The food that was brought by my grandparents’ generation of Italian immigrants to the US in the early 20th century was based primarily on the cucina povera of the south. Over time, it developed a lexicon of its own, starring such dishes as eggplant parmi- gian’, spaghetti with meatballs, baked zitti and manicotti. Everything – from overcooked pasta with clams to breaded veal cutlets – was topped with lashings of ‘red sauce’, a thick tomato sauce that often tasted semi-sweet.