food. family. life.

aromatic cauliflower: origins from the house of medici

I have always loved learning about my famiglia’s history and would ask my parents often about our relatives still living in Italy.

Who were they? What were they like? I was lucky enough to travel to Italy when I was almost 13 and I met my father’s step-parents as you see, he was their adopted son.

I was instantly filled with many unanswered questions about my father’s lineage but, out of respect for my father and his adoptive famiglia, no further questions asked or answered.

It was simple really, my father had accepted the fact that this was his real and only family and I was not about to change that for him or anyone else.

So, I decided that I was going to follow this gut feeling and my heart and go on the possibility that as I was born of my father’s lineage, I was more than certain I was descendant of Italian royalty.

How did I come to this belief?

My father lived in a very rural farm village, but he has the soul and heart of a dreamer, adventurer, explorer, creative and designer. He was finally able to see more of Italy during his time in the military and he was in his element as he learned about other regions, foods, people and traditions.

We have both always naturally appreciated the finer things in life; those little luxuries that are not found in common day activities. He always had a strong creative side that showed in his work (stone masonry/construction) as well as in his life travels.

We greatly enjoy great design, art, music, food and the ability to create food dishes that feed the soul as well as the stomach.

We are both also natural-born diplomats, always ready to go out and meet people from all walks of life. Still today, my father and I seek out new places to travel (whether locally or far away) and love trying new dishes and foods, seeing new places and learning everything we can from our experiences.

I continue to hold my idea that somewhere, somehow in my father’s family history; I will confirm my bloodline is descendant from Italian royalty filled with princes, princesses, kings and queens.

(from left to right) The Grand Duchess Maria Maddalena, The Grand Duke Cosimo II, and their elder son, the future Ferdinando II

I read many books and he told me stories of all the beautiful architecture, art and music and food of Italy and how some of the most humble people grew to become expert artisans and professionals in their fields of study.

I briefly studied the famous Medici famiglia from Florence, Italy in my teens; a family of great financial power (in the business of banking and commerce) and their influence that began in the 13th century (around 1434.)

A wonderful friend of mine Maria, recently shared a cookbook from her collection about the House of Medici that I have read avidly for months now, in my free time.

The book titled “From the Art of the Medicis to the Tables of Todayby Carla Geri Camporesi and Barbara Golini. Maria received this beautiful and highly interesting book that shares a brief history of this powerful family and most interesting to me, a collection of authentic recipes of the times.

Many of the recipes use ingredients that were popular and local during their time, often now difficult or impossible to recreate. I have found many other recipes that are relatively simple to recreate using ingredients available and still popular today.

This recipe is one of the first that I tried recently and my famiglia and we were thrilled with the results. I will be sharing more recipes from this historical and exciting time in Italy’s history from this cookbook, I may have to ask Maria if I can just keep her treasured cookbook just a bit longer.

INGREDIENTS

{cavolfiore aromatico}

Authentic and original recipe found in “From the Art of the Medicis to the Tables of Today” by Carla Geri Camporesi and Barbara Golini

1 head of cauliflower

2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves

2 cloves of garlic, peeled

1 small red chili (finely chopped); with seeds or seeds removed to taste (or chili flake to taste)

3 tbsp. or so extra virgin olive oil

3 tbsp. tomato paste

salt and pepper to taste

1/4 cup or so of water

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Wash (do not dry) and trim the cauliflower tips into small to medium size segments.

Put the cauliflower pieces into a large wide saucepan with olive oil, garlic cloves, rosemary leaves and chili (finely chopped or flakes.)

Brown the cauliflower for about 10 minutes or so until slightly tender.

Add in the tomato paste, 2 tbsp. of water and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Mix well and allow to cook on medium low heat, uncovered.

Allow to cook, add more water as needed when liquid evaporates.

The cooking process should take about 20 minutes or so (adding small amounts of water as needed.) Check for doneness by piercing with a fork, cauliflower should be cooked through and tender to the touch.cucinadimammina_medici-style sauteed cauliflower_14

Remove from heat; adjust seasonings if needed.

Serve immediately as an accompaniment to roasted or poached meats.

Note: Photography provided by Annette L. Venditti

Buon Appetito! 

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