02/05/04  Penne alla Crudaiola from OreganoFromItaly.com

"Buon Giorno!" A big hello to all our regular subscribers and a warm welcome to all the new people that have signed up for our newsletter since last month.

Here in Italy, February is the month in which we celebrate the grand feast of Carnivale, which translates in Latin to "farewell to flesh". Although this is a time of celebration throughout most of Italy, each city, town or village celebrates in their own way, with their traditional, regional dishes. As well as Carnivale, there are also a number of saints' days in February that are celebrated as well, including Saint Blaise's Day, Saint Agatha's Day, and of course Saint Valentine's Day.

In medieval times the name Valentine (derived from the Latin word "valor") was so popular that more than 50 Christian martyrs claimed the name. These various saints including St. Valentine of Bavaria, the patron saint of epilepsy and ailing livestock, and St. Valentine, the martyred priest of Rome all had feast days called "St. Valentine's Day."

The Catholic Church added to the confusion in 1969 by striking St. Valentine's Day from its calendar as part of a series of reforms that de-emphasized Roman or Italian saints. "The disappeared saints were not de-canonized or declared nonexistent but merely suffered liturgical demotion.

Hope you enjoy this week's recipes! They are simple but very tasty pasta dishes that can be prepared in under half an hour!

This week's complimentary news article from "Only In Italy.com" describes about the Prime Minister of Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, being declared "almost immortal".

Thanks again for subscribing and try the words "Ti amo" to the one you love on Valentine's Day!


Yours Truly,              
Angela Reina       

 Recipe: Pasta alla Norma

Pasta alla Norma
Pasta with Eggplant and Basil


1 eggplant
1 clove garlic
10 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
3 oz. aged salted ricotta, grated
Olive oil
1 lb. penne pasta
10 basil leaves


Slice the eggplant and place on a cutting board propped on a slant, cover with salt and leave under a weight for one hour until the bitter water seeps out. Brown the garlic in oil, add the tomatoes and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced by 1/3. Add pinch of pepper, remove from heat and set aside.

Wash the slices of eggplant and pat dry; fry in hot oil, place on paper towels to dry, then chop coarsely, and set aside. Cook the spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water until just al dente and drain. Quickly toss in a large skillet half of the tomato sauce, the eggplant, a few basil leaves and half of the grated cheese over a brisk flame. Then put the pasta in the serving dish, cover with the remaining half of the sauce, the rest of the grated ricotta, sprinkle with a few more basil leaves and serve. Serves 6.

That's it!

 Recipe: Penne alla Crudaiola

Penne alla Crudaiola
Penne with Raw Tomatoes


1/2 lb fresh, ripe plum tomatoes
1 lb penne pasta
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano®


Cut the tomatoes lengthwise, remove the seeds and dice. Cook the pasta "al dente" (firm to the bite).

Drain and transfer the pasta to a serving bowl, pour the oil, the Parmigiano-Reggiano and the tomatoes over the pasta, toss thoroughly and correct for salt. Serves 4-6.

That's it!

 Recipe: Spaghetti al Sugo di Piselli e Prosciutto di Parma

Spaghetti al Sugo di Piselli e Prosciutto di Parma
Spaghetti with Peas and Prosciutto di Parma


1/4 lb. Prosciutto di Parma®, in one piece
2 small garlic cloves, peeled
15 sprigs Italian parsley, leaves only
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb fresh peas, shelled or 1 lb "tiny tender" frozen peas
2 cups chicken or meat broth
Freshly ground black pepper
1 lb spaghetti
15 sprigs Italian parsley, leaves only, for garnish.


Cut Prosciutto di Parma® into small pieces. Finely chop the garlic and coarsely chop the parsley.

Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan over low heat. When the oil is warm, add the Prosciutto di Parma® and the chopped ingredients and saute for five minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Add fresh or frozen peas to the saucepan and saute for 10 minutes. Start adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time. Simmer, adding more broth as needed until the peas are soft. If fresh peas are used, cover saucepan while simmering. Season with salt and pepper.

To cook the pasta, bring a large pot of water to boil over medium heat, adding salt to taste. When water comes to full boil, add the pasta and cook for eight to ten minutes.

Drain the pasta and add it to the saucepan. Mix very well. Cook for one minute more, mixing continuously, while the pasta absorbs some of the sauce. Transfer to a large warmed serving platter and sprinkle with parsley leaves. Serve hot. Serves 4 to 6.

That's it!


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 It Could Only Happen in Italy!

"Only In Italy" is a daily news column that translates and reports on funny but true news items from legitimate Italian news sources in Italy. Each story is slapped with our wild, often ironic, and sometimes rather opinionated comments. And now, for your reading pleasure, a sample of today's edition:

Venice: Russian Immigrant Steals Water Bus.

(AGI)-VENICE, February 1 - A drunk Russian seaman, Viktor Sobolev, has sparked a movie-style chase through the canals of Venice after stealing a water bus of line 51.

The water bus sped through canals at high speeds, sending gondolas crashing into moorings. It carried out a series of spectacular turns before heading towards a petrochemical plant where police feared a terrorist suicide attack.

But, as officers drew alongside, it dramatically turned and tried to ram their boat. They managed to take evasive action and avoid a collision.

Police eventually managed to stop the boat by drawing up alongside it and leaping aboard. There - instead of a terrorist - they found the tipsy Russian seaman.

The 36-year-old is now in custody charged with breaching several navigation rules, stealing the boat and resisting arrest. No secret agents were harmed in the incident.

As if Venice doesn't have enough problems trying to keep their city from sinking, they had to deal with their own personal "Hunt for Red October" with Sean "Sobolev" Connery sending gondolas crashing.

I heard that when the police finally arrested him he pleaded for political asylum for himself and his "Stoly" vodka bottle.

"Only In Italy" Subscribe today and feed your sense of intellectual superiority by reading and wondering how Italy still survives after 50+ governments. Click Here to Subscribe!

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