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Friday, September 7, 2012

Part 1: Random Food Musings in Emilia Romagna: Italian Fast Food, Habits to Copy, Beach Dives

A field of sunflowers in Emilia Romagna, a prime Italian agricultural region. 
Patrizia’s new husband complained that when they live in Italy all she will do is sit, eat, and talk for hours at a time.

That was seven years ago, and now, her husband, a U.S. native, does the same thing. “Good things are easy to copy,” contends Patrizia, 53. “In Italy, we eat, we talk about what we are going to eat, and who we will invite to eat with us.”
However, that day “a quick lunch” was on the agenda, according to plans made by the Emilia Romagna Tourism Board for "Blogville" participants. ( See .) Patrizia of the Comacchio tourism office was showing us the coast near Ferrera.
The quick lunch was served under a thatched roof in front of the Adriatic Sea. Rows of sunbathers on lounge chairs stretched out on both sides of us.
White wine accompanied three courses, boiled shredded potato topped with baby octopus, pasta with a thin veneer of tomato sauce and chopped parsley served with crab in its shell, and fritto mixto, fried seafood and vegetables. The meal at the camping resort, Holiday Village Florenz, lasted only one hour, 45 minutes. ( )
Another day on another beach, I asked the waitress if the tuna in a pasta dish is canned. "No !" she said. "It is fresh tuna." The dish turned out to be pasta with a slight coating of tomato sauce, olive oil, barely cooked cherry tomatoes, basil, and cubes of fresh tuna.
At the beach joint, Habana Cafe, even the pasta was made from scratch.
There, chef Marco created a vegetarian topping for fresh pasta on a 95-degree F day. Not a hint of sea breeze entered the  tiny kitchen as Marco blended slivers of grilled eggplant skin, zucchini, pumpkin sprouts, white wine, chopped parsley, garlic, and other ingredients.
The orange and light green tones of pumpkin flowers framed the platter. The artiste posed for photos, but he scolded, "Hurry up. The dish will get cold" (photo above.)
Marco is just one of several specialized cooks at Habana Cafe, located in a town ( Rimini ) packed with Italian visitors and other European tourists.
From Habana's outdoor tables, instead of a sea view, one gazes at endless beach umbrellas in bright colors, nestling close to each other.
Away from beach towns, diners feast in a small town at outdoor tables on porches that hover above stone stairs leading to the town's medieval castle.

'Ferdi' creates dishes for diners who sit on porches perched on castle stairs. 
The restaurant, Osteria la Postierla, in Castrocaro Terme lists some 125 items, including appetizers, pasta dishes, meat entrees, side dishes, pizzas, and desserts.

The size of the menu is “normal,” according to waitress Alessia. The restaurant’s patrons are locals as well as other Italians who come to the town because of its spa (see prior story, “Spa’s Italian Soul Full of Green Heart, Amore.”)

On that “normal” menu, the fish is labeled “frozen” for its “normal” (but fussy) Italian clients. After all, the rest is fresh. Pieces of cooked lemon perch on veal (vitella al limone); ripe black olives cover a veal chop in a crushed olive sauce; thick slices of freshly harvested artichoke hearts as well as cherry tomatoes top a steamed pork dish (scaloppini al cartoccio.)

The restaurant simply follows a norm. The “father of Italian gastronomy” advised his fellow citizens to cook only with fresh ingredients. Pellegrino Artusi, a native of Emilia Romagna, published the first Italian cookbook in 1891. ( See more about Artusi in Part 2 of “Random Food Musings,” posted below this story.)

Meanwhile, our “Blogville” day did not focus on food. After all, a few hours after the quick lunch, we were to dine on appetizers only at Spiaggia Romea, the delta park and resort with both lake and sea shore.   
Wines accompanied appetizers served on heaping platters in an outdoor restaurant with bright green tables and red geraniums (right photo.)

The buffet included amaretto-seasoned pumpkin ravioli, branzino fish (European sea bass ) with pimento, mussels, gnocchi with tomato sauce, smoked eel, grilled eel, proscuitto (ham) with canteloupe, penzarati stuffed with tomato and mozarella, apple risotto, pasta with clams. Just appetizers.
Story and photos by Carola C. Reuben, Earthy Reporter, Copyright 2012
See Part 2 of Food Musings: "Italian Soul Food, Appetizing Views, Artful Eating,” below this post.


  1. Pгetty nice post. I just stumbled upon youг weblog and ωanted to ѕay that Ι've truly enjoyed surfing around your blog posts. In any case I will be subscribing to your feed and I hope you write again soon!
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    1. Thanks, Terry. I have 4 more stories coming on the Emilia Romagna region of Italy. The next one will perhaps be the most surprising.

  2. The land of one of the most delicious food on the planet, that's for sure!