Buona Domenica con gli Gnocchi di Patate alla Scrofa Azzurra

Dear readers and fellow bloggers:

Good afternoon and Happy Sunday. After so many months of forced Social Distancing, pasteurized Zoom meetings, dearth of basic human interaction like shaking hands or getting a palm on your back, we are more than ready for “adventurous forays”, even if it is still confined to our imagination. One of the best memories of our educational background is when we lived in our relative’s home in San Donà di Piave and we regularly travelled by train to the Università di Padova to study for our Doctorate in Health Policy and Management at Columbia University. Great, exciting times indeed.

One of the characteristic dishes prepared by the local chefs was, and still is, the pasta patavina, which adds potatoes of various kinds to the classic preparation’ it might sound like a redundancy of carbohydrates but, trust us, it is a completely new and delicious way to savor the Chinese invention.

Perhaps the very best architectural-artistic building of the city is the chapel that Giotto decorated for the powerful Scrovegni family of merchants, depicting the Life of Christ and the Virgin Mary. Hailed as one most beautiful artworks of the Early Renaissance, the Scrovegni Chapel was built between the years 1302 and 1305 and was initially meant to be the family’s personal lieu of prayer. And this rich family had a lot to pray for. Amongst their myriad businesses they were money lenders with terms of scandalous usury to the population and powerful of the city; the lelder Scrovegni became famous all over the peninsula and Dante Alighieri placed him right in the middle of Hell. In order to atone for his father’s sin and plead for his eventual relocation to Heaven, or at least the waiting station of Limbo, Enrico, his son, paid a fortune to Giotto in order to decorate this chapel. What was the heraldic coat of arms of this powerful family?  La Scrofa Azzurra (the blue sow)

But there is very personal undertone to this story. In one of our many visits to the chapel, we came across perhaps one of the most beautiful and intelligent women we ever met. Withholding her real name for privacy reasons, we can tell you that she was a visiting German graduate student, staying for a few weeks for her thesis. We had one of the most passionate love affairs you can imagine. Sadly, the blonde walkyrie finally opted to return to her hometown where her boyfriend awaited her. However, we harbor the silly illusion that, in a return visit there, we will meet again and get married. Pour quoi pas?

Enough with melancholic memories and let us start cooking. You can use any kind of cooked pork. But we got a grilled smoked pig leg (lacón) from El Rincón Asturiano, in the city’s West Brickell area.

We skinned the leg, carefully taking off all the excess fat, just preserving a little bit to jazz it all up.

Then we prepared some thinly sliced sautée potatoes, red and green peppers plus some onions.

With the addition of a can of San Marzano tomatoes, we are ready to mix all the above together.

First put a thin coat of Extra Virgin Olive Oil on the casserole, add the tomatoes and stir for 10 minutes. In the second stage, season with a little bit of salt and pepper with plenty of oregano. After cooking at a medium level, put all the mix. Stir for 5 minutes, turn the heat off with the lid back on.

When you are ready to have dinner, boil the potato gnocchi for a few minutes. Serve it hot. Voilà!

Closing our eyes, we picture ourselves escaping with our Dearest Fräulein (and newly wed bride) to a quaint little resort in the Caribbean;  we’ll spend hours lounging on the beach and cooking for her. 

Her favorite drink was (and surely still is) the Mionetto Prosecco. Ready for our über-romantic dinner.

Gutten Appetit!

Stay distant. Stay safe. Stay beautiful.

What do you think? Please tell us.

Don’t leave me alone.