Thursday, August 26, 2010


It was so hot last night that I couldn’t bear the thought of turning the stove on; I just made a salad. After our history tour I stopped back in Piazza Erbe at the same fruit-and-vegetable stand—the one at the back of the piazza, which has the largest selection and best prices, and seems to draw fewer tourists than the one near the front. I picked up another head of lettuce (salad again!), tomatoes, eggplants (to be sliced and grilled for panini), cucumber, one enormous potato, some arugula, and a few lovely tart red plums. When I went to the side with the cash register to pay, I spotted some gorgeous figs, and…a little basket of fresh black truffles! I asked the price; €30 per 100 grams. I must have looked baffled while trying to mentally convert this figure to dollars and pounds, so the vendor offered to weigh one for me. A small, light one costs about €5. That’s a whole fresh black truffle—for about $6.50. No question it would be worth trying. At that price, I can even afford to buy another one if I ruin the dish! I’ve never cooked with truffles before because they’re just too expensive (at least where I’ve seen them for sale). I didn’t buy one today because I think I need to plan ahead a little. What should I do with it? There are so many possibilities…I could use it to garnish mushroom risotto, or to infuse gently scrambled eggs; I could stuff slivers of truffle under the skin of a chicken breast and pan-roast it (this is where an oven would come in handy). But I think it’s best to keep it very simple; something with a very mild flavor so the truffle is as prominent as it can be. I will probably just cook some fresh egg pasta and toss it with a little cream or butter and shaved truffle. (By the way, the butter in my fridge was made in Parma, from the same cows that produce the milk used for Parmiggiano-Reggiano, or so the label claims. This is serious butter.)

I’m not quite enough of a hedonist to eat fettucine ai tartufi all by myself, but fortunately, there are houseguests in my near future. (Very lucky houseguests, if I may say so!)


  1. They let you touch/collect your own produce at that market and take it to a cash register yourself? Envy! In Milan if you dare to touch a single fruit or vegetable at the market which happens on Mondays in my neighborhood they yell at you in loud, fast, incomprehensible Italian. I have no idea what they are saying, but the "thou shalt not touch" message is quite clear. One points, and one of the people working at the booth puts a huge quantity (more than one person can reasonable eat before it goes off if one wishes to eat more than one type of fruit or veg in a week) in to a bag without any regard for shape, size, color, or apparent freshness of the items. As a result I actually prefer to get my fruit and veg at the supermarket, where I can touch/smell the items myself and select only those items I actually want, in the amount I want them. The overall quality at the supermarket isn't as nice as the open air market, but at least I've got control over which individual pieces of fruit or vegetable I'm coming home with. Wish you had time to visit me, and on a Monday, too, so you could talk to them for me and find out *why* they are so against people choosing their own produce...

  2. Ariane!
    I *love* your new blog!
    You've probably already solved the truffle dilemma, but if not, consider oeufs cocottes... my favorite!