Monday, July 21, 2014

THE PA MELTING POT: Part 9 - 3 ITALY: Campania

The Melting Pot: A look at the evolution of food in Southwestern Pa. Part 9 

SOUTHERN Europeans: Italy: Part 3 – CAMPANIA

Western PA’s Italian population is 15.4%/13.2% in Allegheny/Fayette counties respectively.  Every June Fayette County holds The Heart of Italy Italian Festival. Pittsburgh has one of the largest Italian-American communities in the nation.

From 1900 until the outbreak of the Great War (World War I) in 1914, an astonishing 2 million Italians immigrated to the US. All told, from 1876 until 1924, a total of about 4.5 million Italians immigrated to the United States.

After 1890, Italians began to predominate in several of Pittsburgh’s neighborhoods, such as Oakland, East Liberty, the Lower Hill, the Bluff, and Bloomfield. A number of these neighborhoods, such as Bloomfield, had formerly been home to German and Irish families.

In western PA there are enclaves of Italians in every community from New Castle to Monaca, Aliquippa and Ambridge to Coraopolis, McKees Rocks, Oakland and Morningside to New Kensington and Vandergrift to Canonsburg and Cecil to Erie. In the Pittsburgh district, the official “Little Italy” is located in Bloomfield!

Some of the Italian Immigrants from the 1870’s to 1924 were from Campania (southern Italy). Included are the cities of Naples, Avellino, Benevento, Caserta, Salerno, Capri and Ischia.
Campania mainly produces fruits, vegetables, fifty % of Italy’s nuts and is a leader in production of tomatoes.  

Common cheeses produced in the area are: Burrini (cheese with butter filling), Caciocavallo (like spicy provolone), Mozzarella, Ricotta, Provolone and Scamorza (made with cow’s milk). Wine production has increased, together with the quality of the wine. Olive trees produce olive oils.

The cuisine of Campania has been influenced by the Greeks, 
Romans, Spanish and French over the centuries. 

CAMPANIAN  FOODS: Appetizers include: 
Peperoni Imbottiti (Pimentos stuffed with bread crumbs, garlic, anchovies,
and capers),
Insalata di rinforzo (cauliflower, olive and caper salad) and of 
course Antipasti.

Beverages: Aperitivo (Aperitif) are enjoyed as an appetizer 
before a large meal: Campari, Cinzano, Prosecco, Aperol, Spritz 
and Vermouth and Digestivo (Digestives) are served after the 
meal: Grappa, Amaro, Limoncello and Sambuca. And of course wine.

Regional main dishes include: Bistecca alla pizzaiola (a piece of steak served with a hot tomato sauce spiced up with herbs and peppers), Calzoni alla napoletana (tubular or square pasta stuffed with cottage & mozzarella cheeses, egg and tomato paste), Canelloni ripieni (stuffing includes beef, egg, onion, mozzarella and Pecorino cheese covered with a tomato puree, pancetta, and pecorino sauce), Fritto de pesce (mixed fish fry) and Lasagne Imbottite (pasta with ricotta cheese, meat sauce, pork, ham, hard boiled eggs and sausage).

Traditional desserts (cookies, cakes, fritters, holiday breads, pastries, pies and tarts): include: Pastiera (pastry filled with ricotta cheese and candied peel), Sfogliatella (flaky pastry filled with ricotta, sugar, and mixed candied orange/lemon bits/cinnamon), Amaretti (almond cookies), Biancomangiare (lemon flavored cream or pudding), Budino di Mascarpone (mascarpone cheese sweet pudding flavored with amaretti cookies), Coviglie al caffe (Neapolitan pudding flavored with espresso coffee), Pompelmi e arance in insalata (orange and grapefruit salad flavored with liqueur) and Scazzetta (sponge cake stuffed with pastry cream and strawberries).




Thursday, July 10, 2014