08/09/05 Melanzane in Insalata from OreganoFromItaly.com

"Salve e Buon Estate! We send you our warmest greetings. Welcome to another recipe edition from Angela's Oregano Farm!

This week's Italian recipes:
  -Asparagus, Olive Oil and Eggs
  -Alici in Tortiera
  -Melanzane in Insalata

Enjoy the recipes and the complimentary news article report from "Only In Italy.com".

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Yours Truly,              
Angela Reina       

 Recipe: Asparagus, Olive Oil and Eggs

Asparagus, Olive Oil and Eggs


1 lb asparagus
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 hard-cooked eggs, quartered


Bring a saucepan filled with water and 1 teaspoon of salt to a boil.

Snap off tough ends of stems and, if asparagus is thick, peel bottom half or three quarters with vegetable peeler.

Place in boiling salted water and simmer for about 3 minutes, or until asparagus is just tender. (Or steam until tender.)

Remove from water and immediately place under cold running water to cool quickly.

Drain and pile on serving dish. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and serve with egg quarters on the side. Serves 8 to 10.

That's it!

 Recipe: Alici in Tortiera

Alici in Tortiera
Fresh Anchovy Pie


600 grams fresh anchovies
3 tbsp bread crumbs
1 garlic clove
Olive oil
Salt and pepper


Clean the anchovies by removing the head, bone and innards. Open them out and rinse them. Place them on kitchen paper to dry.

Chop the parsley and the garlic and mix it with the bread crumbs.

Oil an oven dish an place a layer of anchovies on the bottom.

Sprinkle with the parsley mixture, salt and olive oil.

Continue layering until you have finished all the ingredients.

Heat the oven to 350 F and bake the anchovies for 20-30 minutes. Serve hot or warm.

That's it!

 Recipe: Melanzane in Insalata

Melanzane in Insalata


3 aubergines (eggplants)
Mint leaves
Garlic clove
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp vinegar
Salt and pepper


Cut the eggplant into segments and leave them in cold water for half an hour.

Bring salted water to the boil in a large saucepan and drop the eggplants in.

Cook for 20 minutes and strain.

Make a dressing with chopped garlic and mint in oil and vinegar, mix and serve.

That's it!

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 Only In Italy!

"Only In Italy" is a daily news column that translates and reports on funny but true news items from legitimate Italian news resources 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:

The Olive Oil Seems Fine. Whether It's Italian Is the Issue.

NY Times - Cifford J. Levy - Massarosa, Italy - May 7 - To divine the secrets of the famously Italian olive oils that are exported from the famously Italian countryside here, it is instructive to go right to the source. Not endless olive groves lovingly tended as if they were old friends, but more typically, a charmless tanker truck bearing foreign olive oil.

Trucks hauling many tons of olive oil at a time arrive regularly at the new ultramodern factory here that bottles Filippo Berio, a popular brand in the United States that portrays itself as an old-style favorite from a land where olive oil is the national nectar.

Into the Berio containers, the ones with labels that say "Imported from Italy," goes olive oil from Spain, Greece and Tunisia. Occasionally, the oil is from Italy itself, though usually not from Lucca, the celebrated olive-growing region in Tuscany that is the factory's home.

The Italian olive oil industry has long been built on this illusion. Consumers the world over want Italian olive oil because it is supposed to be the finest, redolent of la dolce vita, and so the industry finds a way to give it to them, sort of.

In truth, Italy does not grow enough olives to meet even its own demand, let alone foreigners'. Spain, not Italy, actually has the world's largest olive harvest. As a result, Italy is one of the world's leading importers of olive oil, part consumed, the rest re-exported with newly assumed Italian cachet.

The industry has a ready justification: what is important is not where the olives are picked and pressed, but where the oil is refined and blended. The olive oil is Italian, the argument goes, because it has been processed by skilled Italian experts who choose oils from around the Mediterranean to create an oil for the foreign market.

"Our object is to make our customer satisfied, regardless of where the oil comes from," said Alberto Fontana, president of Salov, whose family has exported Filippo Berio for five generations.

He said that depending on the year, as little as 20 percent of the oil in Berio might come from Italian olives. (Berio's main rival, Bertolli, which also has roots in the Lucca region, uses foreign oils, too.)

For export, the factory even churns out an extra light olive oil, a bland concoction that is about as enticing to a native Italian palate as bowl of SpaghettiOs.

Whether the Italian practice is proper depends on the interpretation of different laws in Italy, the European Union and the United States. As the producers carefully point out, if a Belgian chocolatier uses cocoa from Ivory Coast, does that mean that the chocolate is African?

A New York lawyer named Marvin L. Frank agreed. In the late 1990's, Mr. Frank responded to the Italian business custom with an American one: he filed a class-action lawsuit against Bertolli, charging that it used deceptive packaging and advertising, including slogans like, "Born in the Tuscany Mountains."

Mr. Frank said he settled after Bertolli agreed to modify its labels. Now, fine print on the back label indicates the oil's countries of origin, even though the front label still says "Lucca" and "Imported from Italy." Bertolli's lawyer in the case would not comment on it.

Perhaps most dissatisfied are the Italian olive growers themselves, who grumble that the Italian producers are disloyal and buy so much Spanish olive oil because it is cheap. That, insisted Nicola Ruggiero, president of Unaprol, the Italian growers association, is the only advantage of the Spanish oil.

"Their oil has a bad odor," he sniffed.

It is difficult to trace an oil's source, olive oil fraud is not uncommon in Italy. Giuseppe Fugaro, a senior Italian agricultural official, said he brought more than 1,000 cases of fraud last year, involving label tampering and other unsavory practices.

Asked about the legality of using foreign oil and describing the product as imported from Italy, Mr. Fugaro smiled and said there was nothing that he could do.

"It is not fraud," he said, "but it is cheating."

"Che fregatura!" Just goes to prove, "You can't judge a book by it's cover."

Here's a great trick to play on Italian restaurant owners:

Italian restaurant owners (particularly in the USA) are known to be people with little patience, bad tempers and psychotic behaviors. They will always preach to you that Italian cooking is the best you can eat in the world supported by the claims that their chefs use only the finest Italian ingredients.

Based on research, many Italian restaurants are supplied with "Berio" and "Bertolli" Italian olive oils; olive oils that, according this article, are obviously not all Italian.

The next time you go out for Italian food and order a dish that is not up to par (or even if it's good but you just want to bust some Italian chops), complain to the manager/owner that the dish was sadly ruined by the restaurant's poor selection of olive oil used to prepare the dish.

Even if you're a stock boy for Kmart, tell them that your super trained connoisseur palate can tell that the olive oil used was obviously not Italian and that they should be ashamed.

Nine out of ten managers/owners will bring to your table an actual can or bottle of "Berio" or "Bertolli" olive oil used to prepare your dish. As soon as it is presented, shake your head, make a disappointed frown, and state that you were absolutely correct in your assumptions.

Right before their blood pressures set off the fire alarm and they mumble Italian curses, tell them to read the fine print in the back of the can/bottle and they will discover that the olive oil originates from either Spain, Greece, Turkey or all three countries!

Then demand for some dessert and after dinner drinks on the house.

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