Greetings to all my friends and loyal subscribers! It’s me, Agostino back again with another interesting blog entry for everyone. To all the mothers out there, I hope you all had an enjoyable Mother’s Day (maybe with some authentic Pizza Napoletana with your family). To everyone else, I hope you were able to greet and spent some time with your Mamma on her special day.
Speaking of mothers, today’s topic is about a herb that according to legend was blessed by a very famous mother: I’m referring to Mother Mary. One well known story says that the Virgin Mary once spread her blue cloak over a white blossomed shrub while she rested. Instantly the white blossoms turned as blue as her cloak. This shrub came to be known as “The Rose of Mary” or quite simply, rosemary. Today, rosemary comes in a wide variety of colours, but it is still the Marian blue version which remains iconic.
While its beauty and fragrance makes it an ideal ornamental plant, Rosemary is more known as a staple herb in Italian cuisine, often used to enrich the flavour of food such as lamb, pork, chicken and turkey. Its health benefits are quite numerous as well, owing to its high quantities of iron, calcium and vitamin B6. Rosemary is also attributed with improving memory and cognitive functions. Because of these attributes, Rosemary has earned its place among elite called the “Big Four,” with the other 3 being oregano, basil and garlic. Its highly flavourful, powerfully aromatic leaves goes a long way in giving character to many dishes, thus only a small amount is needed when cooking.
Of the many Italian dishes that use Rosemary, none are more famous than its role in the making of focaccia, and of course, in the making of pizza. focaccia is an Italian flat bread which is somewhat similar to pizza, but is not regarded to be the same. Rather, it is more of a side dish which is dipped into olive oil before eating. A notable characteristic of focaccia is its uneven surface, created by dotting the dough using one’s fingers or the handle of a kitchen utensil. This prevents excessive bubbles from forming on the bread’s surface while cooking. It also serves to preserve focaccia’s characteristically moist, airy and slightly fluffy texture. Truly a joy to sink one’s teeth into!
Of the dozens and dozens of types of focaccia out there, my absolute favourite is the rosemary focaccia. When fresh, coarsely chopped rosemary is sprinkled on the focaccia dough before baking, the resulting bread is heavenly to eat! The fragrance and aroma adds an extra dimension to an already exceptional food item. When dipped in extra virgin olive oil, the complementary tastes are a delightful experience that one simply has to try in order to truly appreciate.
Whew! This article has got me hungry for a nice round of Rosemary focaccia, or two. Why don’t you come over to my restaurant and try some as well? I guarantee that you will have an enjoyable experience. That’s it for today and I hope to see you soon. Stay tuned to my blog as we continue our journey in discovering the many exciting aspects of the world of pizza. Until then, this is your friend Agostino Vitiello saying, “Ciao!”