My younger sister leaves for a semester abroad in Florence tomorrow—and although I may be a smidgen jealous—I’m bowled-over excited and happy for her. As an older sister, I still think of Kathy as a little baby, and something about her getting on a plane to fly thousands of miles away, all by herself, to have six months filled with adventures in Italy, chokes me up a little. I’ll probably be fretting and nervous the whole time, waiting for a call or email to see how things are going, wishing I could be in control. I bought her travel guides for Christmas. If it were up to me, I would have planned her itinerary.
But, when thinking of her trip, after the jitters wear away, a wave of excitement washes over me. I took a trip to Italy years ago, and it changed my life. I know the same will happen to her. Italy—the food, the people, the pleasures—are so wonderful, so memorable, so different than American life, that I don’t think anyone could spend a measured amount of time there without being forever changed. Already, I can’t wait for her to get back, to see what she’s wearing and to hear her stories, but since she’s not even gone yet, we had to stop fantasing over her return and celebrate her voyage!
My grandmother decided to make our family’s risotto as a going away dinner on Sunday. I have fond memories of this dish, including the time we all ate risotto when family from Italy were vacationing with us in America (I also learned on Sunday that my Italian family reads my blog—CIAO!!!!) I’ve never encountered a risotto quite like the one my grandma makes—and I order risotto whenever I get the chance. Maybe part of what I’m tasting is memories, but to me the dish is one-of-a-kind—the perfect, rustic risotto. Every time Nana makes it, it tastes slightly different from the last time—but always delicious. Sunday’s dinner was delightful (save for my heated debate over why Obama is better than Clinton) and we celebrated Kathy’s trip with all the warmth and fun that my family always has.
Buon Viaggio Risotto
serves a hungry familyThis recipe is very informal—like all the best family recipes. Feel free to make it your own.Sauté 2 large onions, chopped, in oil. Stir in ½ tbsp of basil and parsley, and ¼ tbsp oregano and pepper. Add 1 can good tomato sauce (15 oz), and some sliced mushrooms if you like. Cook 10-15 minutes.Heat 1 large can of chicken broth in a saucepan.Add 2 cups of rice and brown. Add chicken broth, one ladel-full at a time, stirring through-out. Cook about 20 minutes. Add ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese towards the end of the cooking time. If too dry, add more broth or a little boiling water.Pour into platter while still very moist and rice is still somewhat firm.