Welcome to The Weary Ham Hock (Lo Stinco Stanco)

In this blog, we share budget-friendly recipes, traditional Italian plates, stories and humor. We hope you enjoy.

Latest Recipes

Woman’s Month Recipe: Fried Seminal Fluid Sacks. (So men are at least are good for something…)

Yesterday for the first time I made fried milt, not knowing what it was, and ate it with a girl friend. Marvelous, breaded in kamut flour and grated lemon rind with a bit of green-tea salt. When today I asked our fish dealer just where milt comes from, she explained: “sacks of seminal fluid. The eggs are from the females, the milt….” To which my friend said “Oh. So men are at least good for something….”  

Frictilia – Fried Sweet Dough for Mardi Gras

A thousand different names, a million different variations, all derived from ancient times, likely as soon as people learned to mix flour and liquid into a dough, roll it out, fry it, and sweeten it. Certainly a version was already well known in ancient Rome: frictilia. Apicius mentions them as a cheap and delicious street food passed out to people celebrating Saturnalia.

Small Price, Big Flavor Meals: ‘Q.B.’ (Quanto Basta) – The Most Important Acronym in Italian Cuisine (and Braised Pig Shanks with Polenta.)

This is such a marvel of a plate. Deep, satisfying flavors perfect for any cool eve – despite its humble market consideration. You can alter the flavors by fiddling with the marinade and sudes and any sauces. The meat the next day is even better in sandwiches and the cooking pot remains perfect to be blended and mixed into noodles for a pasta dish the following eve. QB.

Literary Recipe (The Pasta Papers): Stephen Hawking’s Carbonara

Contain an incredibly large, dense mass in your kitchen. Hide it behind a door that says ‘loo’ or ‘bathroom’. Invite a dumb undergrad over, (any faculty will do though economics would be preferable,) telling him or her you want them to take part in a revolutionary experiment. When he gets to your house, have him sit down and then slowly explain to him about black holes. (Don’t worry if you make a mistake or two. He’s dumb, so he’ll never know the difference.) Pour him plenty of beer as you do. When he asks to use the loo, show him to the door behind which you’ve hidden the black hole – but remember to give him the pasta dough before he steps inside.

Stories and Poems

Food Science – Professional palates are terrible at judging wine

Anyone can learn and appreciate but without those conditions…consistency, already nearly impossible in the typical context of wine tasting competitions with a bizzilion wines out of context, is unlikely. I suppose flavor perception might be comparable metaphorically to perfect pitch. Money can’t buy it. But as it seems to be increasingly evident, the notion of removal from context of sensory inputs, of sort of absolute qualia, probably isn’t usually descriptively useful. Maybe ever. Perception, integration and response seem to occur on many levels, use parallel pathways, and therefor per force are contextually influenced. Plus, well, this anglo-saxon notion of absolute point scores and our increasing use of uncouth symbolic representations of wealth…don’t change the fact that a cheap, disdained bottle of acidic, cherry-ish fast-fermented novello is the perfect fermented drinking sauce to accompany a paper roll full of steaming hot roasted chestnuts – and together they make a complex, culinary whiz. You need neither expertise nor wealth to enjoy that. (It might be, of late, better to have neither.)

Roman Flavors – Sushi at Hamasei

Why on earth would you want to have to sushi in Rome? With all the traditional alternatives, trattorie, restaurants, enoteche, osterie, pizzerie, regional take-away joints, delis for fresh sandwiches, etc., is your urge for a sushi fix that uncontainable that you just gotta’ have some hunks of raw fish with vinegared rice, a little ugly mound of green wasabi and another little ugly pinkish mound of sliced ginger root? Well, yes.  

Wednesday Will: Cooking with The Bard

But there’s a whole lot more to the bard’s culinary story – the Shakespearean larder teems with intriguingly named foods. How about chewets, gallimaufries, and fools? (That’s small pies, mixtures and spiced, fruity custard for modern eaters.) And do you know your codlings from your carbonadoes and your umbles from your jumbles?

Travel Food

Fresh Fish in Rome

On balance, the Swiss are, well, easier to live with. (Except, perhaps, when they drive. What do you get when 4 Swiss drivers pause at the same stop sign? A traffic jam.) But after 6 months of Swiss food, and a coming home meal of wild sea bass flavored with capers, a little sage and rosemary, potatoes and Roman broccoli on the side and topped off by a good cassata for dessert, God bless Italy.

Roman Flavors – Sushi at Hamasei

Why on earth would you want to have to sushi in Rome? With all the traditional alternatives, trattorie, restaurants, enoteche, osterie, pizzerie, regional take-away joints, delis for fresh sandwiches, etc., is your urge for a sushi fix that uncontainable that you just gotta’ have some hunks of raw fish with vinegared rice, a little ugly mound of green wasabi and another little ugly pinkish mound of sliced ginger root? Well, yes.  

Travel Food – Delis in Rome (Fontana di Trevi) : Kiss My Mozzarella

“Kiss mine,” or a dialogue something like that happened in the 18th century between Nick Salvi – the guy mostly responsible for the above Trevi Fountian – and a barber who didn’t much care for Nicola’s handiwork, and wasn’t shy about saying so. You can still see where said barber’s shop was in the above photo. It’s the shop behind that irregular outcropping in back. That’s of course because Salvi obliged the barber’s reticence with a special deviation – a cup sculpted into a rock large enough to block the loose-tongued Figaro’s view.  

Peach Iced Tea in Rome

Over the past few years the tradition of Italian bars to make their own iced teas has slipped, giving way to the usual cans of Nestea or, if you’re lucky, Twinnings. (New EU regulations have seen to that.) But at the almost legendary ‘Caffeteria’, now called ‘Caffe Napolitano’, that tradition is going strong. They make their own peach granita and lightly sweetened tea and mix the two together. The result is outstanding, maybe number 79 on the list of 101 things to do while you’re alive.

Travel Food – Sion, Switzerland: Angelucci – the best cold cuts. (video)

One day I was wandering about the Friday farmer’s market in a different city not so far away (Sion) a bit hopelessly – in most of Switzerland they have great cheese and great, ah, cheese and then they also have really good, uh, cheese. But God help you if you’re looking for anything else. It’s almost better to head for the nearest kebab joint – when my eyes at first, then nose, spotted this odd oasis in the distance. I sauntered up close presuming that as I did I’d find the usual leather-ish lunch meats and local salami which usually have the color, consistency and flavor of, say, slightly burned marshmallows with little pieces of breakfast cereal in it.

Roman Flavors – Gelato

It’s mentioned in the bible, and even Sicilian ‘sorbetto’ derives from the Arabic ‘scherbet’ (sweet snow) because one of Muhammad’s entourage figured out a way to freeze fruit juice and mix it into containers filled with ice. Which was a very good thing, because after the fall of the Roman empire flavored ices disappeared in the west and were only re-introduced later. Just don’t tell any Sicilian that his or her fantastic ices and ice creams were first invented by a Muslim Arab. Unless you want some melting gelato staining your shirt.

Colazione da Ciampini – quartiere del tridente (Roma)

Anche se ho detto ‘Ciao’ abbastanza ad alta voce il cavallo più vicino a quanto pare non mi ha sentito fino a quando ero a pochi metri da lui. Sorpreso, il cavallo e saltato un po ‘indietro, nitrì, e poi ha fatto qualcosa che non sapevo che i cavalli potessero fare: mi ringhiò. Inoltre mentre mi allontanavo ci siamo guardati negli occhi a vicenda e sono abbastanza sicuro che il suo sguardo verso di me significava ‘stronzo’. Comunque.

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