August 15, Ferragosto, is a national holiday in Italy, and one of the biggest events of the year. It originally was celebrated in Roman times as Feriae Augusti, the festival of emperor Augustus, however it was later syncretized with the Catholic holiday of the Assumption of Mary and moved to August 15. It is a day of food and fun, and also marks the peak of summer vacation for many Italians (and the closing of all of the shops for at least 2 weeks). Each region of Italy has different specialties for Ferragosoto. Watermelon is popular as a refreshing treat throughout the country, but particularly in Sicily, where it is used for the Ferragosto specialty Gelo di mellone (in Sicilian dialect: gelu di muluna/miluni). Gelo di Mellone is an iced watermelon dessert, similar to granita, but thickened with cornstarch. Traditional toppings include pistachios, chocolate shavings, and sometimes jasmine blossoms. It doesn’t seem very hard to make, and there is no special equipment needed. Check out these recipes from Food Nouveau, Italy Magazine and Memorie di Angelina. We are entering the dog days of summer here, and we think we may make some this weekend!
Tag Archives: Summer
We are entering the dog days of summer, and it has been HOT in Chicago. Naturally, that means we have been filling up on a lot of Italian ice, ice cream and paletas. However, if we were in Peru, we would be enjoying cremoladas! Cremoladas are a Peruvian iced dessert that falls, texture-wise, somewhere between shaved ice and sorbet. When we were in Lima we visited the original Curich Cremoladas (Calle Bolognesi 759, Miraflores 15074, Peru), credited with inventing the treat when the Curich family from Croatia opened their shop in Lima in 1942. There are dozens of flavors available, though we are partial to lucuma and passionfruit. It is fun to sample some of the unique fruit flavors at Curich like naranjilla (known as lulo in Colombia), arazá, and cocona. Curich’s creation caught on, and, now, you will find cremoladas all over Lima. Check out a video of cremoladas in production from El Comercio. Turns out, despite the name, there is no cream at all! Lima Easy has a simple recipe to make your own cremolada.
Today is the Summer solstice – the longest day of the year! That means it is also time for Midsummer / Midsommar festivals in Sweden and throughout Scandinavia. While you may not have access to a maypole (majstång or midsommarstång), get outside, put on a flower crown and serve up some delicious treats, and you will be celebrating Midsummer like a Swede (Kitchn called some actual Swedes for their take, and that seems to cover it). Midsommar festivals and meals typically happen outdoors, in order to full enjoy the beauty of summer, and the super-late sunsets. Herring is a popular dish on the Swedish Midsommar table, as are new potatoes, fresh strawberries and a little aperitif like Akavit. Tasting Table, Serious Eats, The Kitchn, and Saveur have Midsommer menus for your own celebration. I think tonight’s dinner is going to be al fresco.
If you are familiar with Indian and Pakistani snack foods, chances are you are familiar with chaat! Chaat is a general term that encompasses dozens of varieties of savory snacks, often eaten as street food in India and Pakistan or in snack bars. Our picture of chaat has previously been heavy fried potatoes, breads, chickpeas or samosas, but did you know that chaat could be sweet and unfried? Enter fruit chaat, an Indian take on fruit salad, with chopped mixed fruits, topped with black salt and the essential element – fruit chaat masala spice mix. Fruit chaat is a traditional starter dish on the Ramadan iftar table, the meal that breaks the daily Ramadan fast, though it is good to eat anytime. With the heavily spiced, tangy flavors, fruit chaat reminded us of gazpacho, a spicy Mexican fruit salad, a connection or friend Omnivorous Cravings made back in 2015! The combo of fruits an be pretty much anything you want like bananas, oranges, apples, mango, grapes, or whatever is in season. The fruit masala chaat blend varies across recipes, but includes some essential spices: ginger, cumin, coriander, black salt, chili pepper, amchoor (mango powder) and asafoetida. Here are is a recipe from Food 52, plus a few more recipes to make your own spice blend (or you could get a premade spice mix).
When we are out and about we tend to drop everything to try new foods, even if that potentially means having no idea what we are eating (actually, that is often the case). In the Supermarket the other week, we had that exact experience when M, on the spur of the moment. picked up a mustard yellow can of “Badam Drink,” a beverage that was a complete mystery. The can advertised “real bits of Badam,” and not knowing what that was, we were doubly perplexed. Thanks to some internet sleuthing, we come to find out that Badam is simply “almond” in Hindi, and this cold almond milk drink is a favorite for the hot days of Spring and Summer. Badam milk is made by soaking almonds in water or milk, blending and then adding the flavoring of saffron and cardamom. Now it wasn’t too hot in Chicago recently, but this was still quite refreshing, and would be a nice caffeine-free replacement for a chai tea latte.