For several older friends and relatives who don’t look at the internet I make up a letter with pictures and mail it to them every now and then. Usually the contents of letter is taken from recent posts on my blog. (i.e. I don’t produce original content for each group) Most recently I realized that I simply could not send them another letter about the sagras we had been to and what we had been eating or how my flowers look. (but I can bore you all with that sort of thing) So I decided to devote an entire letter to antipasto.
In this post instead of my blog becoming the letter, the letter is going to become the blog.
One dish that is at every festa but always done differently each time… antipasto. Quoting from World Food, Italy published by Lonely Planet “This is the first course of a lengthy meal, and shouldn’t be confused with pasta, since an antipasto never includes pasta. The word actually means ‘before the pasta’ and includes all the salumi (sliced meats) such as prosciutto or salame. It could be a pecorino cheese with fave (large broad beans, eaten raw), grilled peperone (red bell peppers), perhaps melted smoked scarmorza cheese, sun dried tomatoes with a drizzle of olive oil or many other things. Bruschetta, basically a grilled bread appetizer is an antipasto. Crostini are smaller slices of bread with a spread on top. Antipasto platters appear on virtually every menu.” Usually they are shared with others.
This would be considered an Antipasto Toscano since it has very Tuscan ingredients. Sliced prosciutto (maybe made from wild boar), salami made with fennel seeds in it, and crostini neri, sliced bread, toasted with cooked chopped chicken or pork liver spread on it. In the center is panzanella, stale bread that is mixed with tomatoes, onions, oil and vinegar. The other crostini have a spicy tomato spread, a cream cheese with chopped greens and something that is almost like pimento cheese.
Again a variation on Antipasto Tuscano. The creamy white spread might have mushrooms or porcini in it. The light brown spread is probably beans rather than peanut butter, which is what it looks like. But the same common items, chicken liver crostini, sliced prosciutto, salami, and panzanella.
Since Tuscany has a coast line in some parts of Tuscany this would be considered an antipasto Toscano, a taste of land and sea. Again with sliced meats, crostini with a spicy tomato sauce, the center small crostini is a smoked salmon spread and near that is a tuna spread. Then something very different, cream cheese with chopped peanuts and near that with the dark speckles is a truffle spread. Truffles or tartufo are not really a mushroom more of a fungus with a very unique smell and taste. You either love them or hate them. Rarely anything in between.
This is what we serve our guests when they first arrive. Salami and prosciutto along with a bowl of melon, fava beans (if it is spring time) and pecorino (sheep’s milk) cheese, grilled vegetables, tomatoes in olive oil, olives, bread and of course, wine.
Our guests seem to like that. So now you know all about antipasto and that it is different every place you go. But there should be at least one thing on the plate that you will like.