I just got back from Napoli. a few days ago. Coming from a wonderland and arriving into another wonderland.
Napoli is my soul place, it is big, cahotic and at time so different to be sensed as another planet.
People is like actors of a live teather, people you can talk to and are sure that if you ever meet their eyes, you'll receive a smile back. People with a heart of gold that shine through their eyes.
I went with my best friend from DownUnder, Fiona. A free kindred spirit. I don't travel well along with people, but it felt great travelling with her.
The trip didn't start as planned though:
first things first, I got my car hit by an idio..sorry, an incredibly idiotic driver that didn't care about looking out for other car while getting out if his parking spot. This is 5 minutes before the train would leave. Ok, shit happens I say, quick picture of his car,m the accident and the insurance, and I say, I will deal with it when I am back (F-FW I didn't deal with it yet). A minor bump in the back door of the car and five munutes later, I am in the train that will take me to the frecciarossa in Arezzo. Direction Napoli Centrale, where at 10 more or less, my friend Fiona will be waiting for me.
But things never go easy for me at least... Halfway between Rome to Napoli I realize that I forgot my credit card at home. Now I really wanted to have a coffee.
I didn't even have a filthy euro on me. I was sure that I had a little cash on me but no... Matteo and Francesca had swiped me out before me leaving. They are allowed on my wallet for the occasional 5€ or 10€ for either school or brakfast, I forgot...
When I find miself in these situations this is how I picture them... Lovingly smiling and sending me to fuck off...
So the problem is pretty serious. But I have no fear.. My friend Fiona is here and I can sort it out with paypal with her and she can lend me some cash while I fix this...Except she is not at the station when I arrive. Ok, traffic, I think, she'll be a little late, no big deal...Except it IS a big deal as she is still not there.. I call a common friend she was visiting, the mighty Glenn from Halifax that has a beautiful place in Guardia SanFramondi, he tells me that we got the dates wrong, she is coming tomorrow.
Should I have stayed at home this morning? No, not really. I call my wondeful family, that come to he rescue. Minus side, it is now about 2 pm, I got documents checked by two different police Patrols in front of Napoli Centrale (railway station), I got to pee and still I haven't had even a coffee since this morning. Plus side we got a great pizza and I crashed on cousin's couch for about 2 hours, and finally had a wondeful dinner cooked by my wonderful cousin Autilia and have been surrounded by her great family... Aren't they beautiful?
It is late now, almost midnight, and we go to the B&B, wonderful little place in the heart of Chiaia, a great vibrant neighborood where loads of coctail bars and small trattorias are placed. The place I was directed to is B&B Bausan. Now, my other cousin Mariano directed me there, and given the level of jokes we make to each other, I really wasn't expecting much of it, but I was very very wrong. This place is super cute, rooms are charmingly arranged with antiques an the bed is confy and new, bathroom is beautiful and breakfast is abundant even if simple. I reccomend it, they should have a better wi fi connection, though.
After a stroll along the roads, we get to the B&B, we part and I am asleep in probably 35 seconds. Quiet, comfy and cool. See you tomorrow...
The Genovese is a pasta sauce that is one of the staples of Napoli. Ragù and Genovese, Pizza and Sfogliatelle. That's all you eat in Napoli.
Genovese might make you think that Genova has somethng to do with it, but no. It has not. Maybe the name comes fom the Genoan cooks following the Aragona's court in the XV cen. Which were cooking sauces with meat to be served with pastas.
My cousin Autilia's Genovese is incredibly good. And she shared with me the recipe. It is a version of it, I love it and it is the same my mom did. So, it is my version.
about 4 pounds of jellow onions
Extra virgin olive oil
4 pounds of beef meat, muscle or the cut you use regularly for stews.
one full glass of red wine
two cups of water
You cut and slice the onions, finely. All of them. The only trick that worked so far to avoid tears for me is , once the onions are peeled and cut in half lenghtwise, leave them in a basin of cold water for 10/15 minutes. This is my (not so) secret. It works.
Place all the onions in a cold pan that will hold the whole sauce, so pretty big. add an adequate amount of Extra Virgin Olive Oil ( I would say half a cup, if not more.
Heat the pan slowly. The goal is not to brown anything but get the onions to a semi transparent point. I want the sweetness of the onions, not the sourness.
In the mean time cut the beef in pieces cube it, strip it, it doesn't really matter, it will all separate in the end. Put it in the pan along with the onions, indipendently on how long the onions have been there. Stir every now and them and rise the flame to a medium/low level. Add a generous pinch of salt, and a full glass of wine (I would say red). You will see that the meat juices a lot and you'll have a pan full of meat and liquid, resist to the temptation to throw it away, it is all good.
Semicover the pan, leave a bit of escape to the steam, when the liquid has fully formed, add two cups of water and stir well. Adjust the flame to the minimum possible, even moving it to the smallest fire, and just forget it there for the next 3 hours. The boiling should be not even gentle, but sort of...lazy.
The sauce is ready when it reaches the consistency of a jam.
The staple pasta for this sauce is Ziti, the long tubular pasta that needs to be broken in 4 pieces before eaten, not rigged. Maccheroni and Paccheri are good too. Any format of large but short pasta is good.
Now excuse me, I need to dry the drool from my chin...
Ah, do not forget the basil leaf... It is essential...