Ciao dall’Italia. First stop Roma, an open air museum, where I strolled around ancient masterpieces like the Pantheon, and then ate a modern masterpiece called spaghetti alla carbonara. (Need I say more?) Second stop, Firenze, the birthplace of the Rebirth of Civilization (the Renaisssance or Rinascimento), and also the birthplace of ice cream (gelato) and the fork. The fork! (Need I say more?) And then on to Milano, home to Leonardo daVinci’s, L’Ultima Cena (The Last Supper), and La Scala Opera House, not to mention home to Mr. Armani and friends. (Need I say more?)
As I stroll, and eat, and ponder, and eat, I understand more clearly the importance of the Italian language in the modern world. Can you really study music without understanding Italian? (From Acappella to Piano to Virtuoso.) Can you really study art? (From Acquarello to Chiarascuro to Sfumato. ) Can you really understand cooking? (from Al Dente to Zeppole). Italy is about art and Italian is the language of the arts and the arts make the world go ’round. It is for this reason, I am sure, that my grandfather Filippo decided that our family’s motto would be Ars Omnia Vincit (Art Conquers All).
Speaking of art, the bowl of strozzapreti con squacquerone, noci e salciccia that I recently ate with my tour guide Giovanni Molteni at Osteria dei Poeti in Milano was, as the restaurant name suggests, pure poetry. Poetry in motion that is, as I inhaled it faster than you can say volare.
The fresh creamy, and slightly tangy, squacquerone cheese, made in Rimini, will be very difficult to find outside of Italy, so use stracchino, burrata, mascarpone, or fresh ricotta as a substitute. (Try to find them at www.buonitalia.com in NYC.)
Buon Appetito e Studiare Sempre!
p.s. Check out our wine pairings to complement this dish.
In a large skillet, over medium heat, sauté the onion in the olive oil until golden. Add the sausage, breaking it apart with a fork until crumbled. Cook the mixture until the sausage is cooked through. Add the walnuts, salt and pepper to taste.
Meanwhile, in a large pot of salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta, retaining one cup of the cooking water. Add the pasta to the skillet with the sausage, mixing thoroughly over medium heat. Remove from heat and add in the cheese until evenly distributed. Add a bit of the retained cooking water if it seems dry. Serve immediately with a sprinkle of Parmigiano.