DWide, green, majestic rock crevices, a wrong turn, and a demonic row – the common denominators of every car trip to meet a food producer is that we get lost and have a terrible argument. So common, and I think it’s a cardinal sin of travel and food writing, that most of the time I skip them as an unwanted song in a playlist, ignoring the savagery of the car the same way I do the bills in our transparent front mailbox in the common hall and the iceberg in the freezer.
However, if I am going to talk about a particular trip to an olive oil producer in Abruzzo named Tommaso Masciantonio, it would be a lie of omission not to mention how fantastically lost we lost ourselves and how much we blame each other. Also, because our savagery somehow adapted to the landscape at the foot of the sinister Maiella mountain range, especially at dusk in late October. It was one of my first writing assignments, and I could feel my plans shrinking with the light and the delay. We had already missed the opportunity to see the olive groves, and we were also on the verge of losing the pressing. And the car was even more exhausted than we were. We were really about to give up when we smelled it, like concentrated cut grass. Someone was also burning firewood, which is always melodramatic. But it was the smell of grass that drew us in and told us that we were there, just like Tommaso, with his immaculate stainless steel rollers.
Last week I wrote about traditional growing but modern pressing, and Tommaso is one of the best examples of this, which is why he is so highly respected: a compass for other manufacturers. Its extra virgin olive oil is exceptional in every way, a fact that is confirmed year after year in competitions. It is also expensive. At the time, I thought it was ridiculously expensive, because my brain was still hardwired to think of olive oil as a kitchen staple, just like flour or sugar. Not that I thought it should be cheap; I just didn’t line it up with cost at all, and certainly not in the way that I would with chicken, fish, or other foods and production chains that aren’t cheap (and if they do, someone is probably getting very rich and lots of poorer).
It’s another cardinal sin to have a food epiphany, but I had one anyway, standing there staring at the green stream of water; then I had another in my kitchen with the precious oil. It is a paradox that extra virgin olive oil does not taste greasy, but liquid herbs (thanks, Johnny madge), so much so that it feels hot, essential and bitter. And while it’s not greasy, it is, of course, fatty, the base and finish of almost everything I eat, and the most important flavor, seasoning and ingredient. And suddenly it doesn’t seem that expensive after all, even with our small kitchen budget. Tommaso’s aside, which I can only afford from time to time, a € 12-14 bottle of extra virgin olive oil is good value for money, costing about 20 cents a tablespoon of the most important ingredient in the world. kitchen room.
Olive oil is at the beginning, middle and end of this recipe, with frozen peas in the soul (you can use fresh of course).
Orzo with peas, herbs and Parmesan
Prepare / defrost 10 minutes
Cook 20 minutes
It serves 4
1 small handful flat-leaf parsley
5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, more extra to serve
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped, or 5 chives, sliced and finely chopped
Salt and black pepper
300 g frozen peas, thawed
220 g of barley, to laugh or broken spaghetti
1 liter Water or light broth
1 lace mint
40g of parmesan, grated
Scoop the leaves off the parsley stems, set them aside, and then chop the stems.
Away from the heat, put the olive oil, onion, parsley stalks and a pinch of salt in a deep frying pan or casserole. Bring the pan to a simmer and allow the onion to soften gently, which will take about 10 minutes.
Add the peas and stir, add the orzo and stir again, then add the water or broth and simmer for the pasta cooking time, stirring occasionally. As the pasta cooks, it will swell and the final consistency should be light and fluffy, so you may need to add a little more water.
Finely chop the reserved parsley and mint leaves and, in the last minute of cooking, add to the pan. Remove from the heat, add the Parmesan and serve with a zigzag of more extra virgin olive oil.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism