Ratatouille, Halloween & a French cemetery story
Breaking news: Halloween is coming! It’s really strange for me think at this event especially because it wasn’t common at all when I was young in Italy. In this very same period in Italy we celebrate the Saint (1 November) and the death (2 November), but it’s a really serious celebration, strictly connect with Catholicism and faith. So, even if I never did “trick or treat”, it’s nice think that, now that thanks to marketing Halloween is common also here, my daughter will have something fun to do. Unfortunately I’m not ready to create a skull cake or something frightening (I have to study so I will be ready next year!). I decided instead to follow the spirit of this blog and cook a French recipe while tell you the story of a French cemetery.
Cemeteries are an important key to understand civilizations. Since Mayan and Egyptian pyramid, to the Etruscan catacomb till today they talk about our fears and our believes. When I was in Washington I spent few hours visiting Arlington: it was a touching moment and I really believe that this place tells about American patriotism more than every political speech. I visited a cemetery also when I went to Paris: I’m talking about the world famous Pere Lachaise. This place was built in 1803 when Napoleon decided that, for hygienic reasons, the death should no longer rest inside the city. Even if the place is beautiful, for a long time people didn’t want to be buried there (I can understand them: if you can spent the eternity inside the ville lumière why should you decide to go in the country up the hill??!!). The ingenious Napoleonic administration resolved the problem transferring inside the Pere Lachaise famous and illustrious death. They started with Abelardo and Eloisa and Molière and then the Pere Lachaise became the place to be for the eternity. The most incredible thing is that while walking inside this peaceful place, you can see some of the greatest geniuses the world has ever produced: painters, writers, philosophers, musicians. Just to make a short list: Oscar Wilde, Seurat, Corot, H. de Balzac, Bellini, Marcel Proust, Rossini, Bizet, Camus, Modigliani but also Maria Callas and Jim Morrison! I really believed that the Jim Morrison’s grave was the most visited but I was wrong: the real star of this place is Chopin. You can realize it by looking at the graves around him: all ruined by his fans that rise above to take pictures! So maybe in the end it’s not such a great idea spent the eternity near a V.I.P. ….
After this cemetery story, it’s really time to cook something. Here you find a recipe for ratatouille, one of my beloved French dishes. You can serve it with fish and meat, but you can also try it with cous cous or serve it as an entrée. Enjoy!
- 2 onions
- 4 small zucchini
- 2 eggplants
- 2 red peppers
- 2 green peppers
- 4 tomatoes
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 8 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- salt & pepper
- 1 bouquet of herbs: parsley, rosemary, marjoram, thyme, tarragon and savory
Coarsely chop the onions. Cut zucchini, eggplants and peppers into large pieces. Cut tomatoes in 4 parts and finely chop the garlic. In a pan heat the oil and lightly fry the onions, add eggplant and pepper and cook at high flames for 5 minutes. Add zucchini and tomatoes, sprinkle with the minced garlic, add salt, pepper and mix well. Add the herbs bouquet, cover with a lid and cook over low heat for 50 – 60 minutes. Remove the bouquet and serve it …bon appetit!
PS as in Italian cuisine, also in the French one you can find many different version of this classic. This one I found in a very high level French gastronomy book and I really love it. Hope you will too!