Venetian Green Tomatoes Preserved in Vinegar
A BIG ANNOUNCEMENT & why cooking vintage recipes stresses me out
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Cooking from old recipes stresses me out…
Unless you’ve attempted it yourself, you may not realize how a hilariously stressful experience it is to cook from another era. The drama. The agony. A sea of missing information. Questions that will forever remain unanswered. Oh, what a lark!
For a visual representation of the anxiety and drama, watch this.
The truth is that vintage food can be a nightmare to make and a shock to eat. When I realized this simple lesson I thought for a very long minute of just quitting this newsletter altogether. I’ve tested several vintage Venetian recipes so far, more than the few I published here, with almost all of them turning into a Sunday nightmare. But was it really a nightmare?
To be fair, I tend to approach the task with seriously cumbersome expectations. Being hopelessly nostalgic at heart - in a way, if you’re reading this chances are that you are the same - the stupid truth is that I’m on a quest for a “higher taste”: a secret culinary game changer hidden somewhere in the past, possibly in anything “past”.
Recently, a friendand subscriber tried to pickle cucumbers following her Belgian grandmother’s recipe. She mentioned 3 easy steps, but also “one hell of a smell!”. When I reached out for updates (how’s the pickling going and have you taste tested it yet?) she replied:
“Inedible!! So sour our faces turned inside out. My mum rechecked the recipe and we think old Belgians must just have been tougher than us!”
Funny enough, these were my thoughts too when I bit into the green tomatoes I'd made following a vintage Venetian method.
So I’m asking you and myself, are we losing sight of what a cultural experience is? Is cooking only an end in itself? The process, the exploit, that has to lead to a final tastebuds revelation, the hidden gem? Or is it an occasion for playfulness, and learning things that otherwise would remain forgotten? The taste of a nation, of a people, in a certain time in history, for example. The likes and dislikes of a family, ever-changing by nature.
How much more exciting it is to explore those preferences rather than feed expectations? To be shocked and outraged, or pleasantly intrigued?
You asked for it!
This is the most requested recipe of a fun little poll we did in May. I know you’ve waited long enough for it, but life lived in a rush wouldn’t suit either you or me ;)
I find these green tomatoes emblematic: first of all, there’s white wine vinegar, lots of it, a staple in all Venetian kitchens; and then there’s the taste… powerful, addictive, salty and vinegary - the province of rough truck drivers of northeastern Italy.
This is workers’ fast food, served on weekdays lunches on plain ceramic plates, sliced up, paired with squares of Asiago cheese, raw onions and white steamed beans. And wine, of course.
A vintage Venetian method that may come in handy to preserve the last of your green tomatoes. When it’s time to open the jars, approach the green devils with caution.
Venetian green tomatoes preserved in vinegar
This recipe is originally found in “A Tola Co I Nostri Veci”, an iconic Venetian cookbook written in the local dialect. Below you'll find my translated version.
[ Testing note in square brackets ]
1.5 kg (6.5 cups) green tomatoes with a firm pulp, each the size of a small pear
500 ml (2 cups) white wine vinegar
250 ml (1 cup) water [you’ll need more for that many tomatoes, it’ll help cut the acidity, too]
2 tbsp salt
1/2 garlic clove
1 sprig fennel green
1 red chilli pepper
[add more garlic and laurel, cloves, pepper grains… etc, otherwise it lacks in depth]
Mattress needle [use a dessert fork]
Remove the stalk and prick the tomatoes here and there with a mattress needle (which you’ll have disinfected over the flame of a match first).
On the side, bring half a litre of vinegar with 1/4 of a litre of water and 2 scant tablespoons of salt to a boil; as soon as the liquid starts boiling, add the green tomatoes and when the boil is strong again quickly remove the pot from the stove.
Distribute the tomatoes into many vases (as many as needed) which you’ll have warmed up with hot water beforehand.
In each of these jars, place a clove of garlic without its skin, a sprig of fennel greens, and one red hot chilli pepper; pouring the hot liquid into the jars, as much as it’s needed to cover the tomatoes.
Seal the jars and store them somewhere cool. Kept this way, they’ll keep for a year even. It’s tradition to eat them sliced, raw, in a salad.
Dash of Prosecco Turns One 🥳
And just like that, it's been one year since I started writing on Substack.
I've been enjoying every minute of it (primarily thanks to you) and the time has now come to take the next step…
I’m opening the doors to the paid tier of Dash of Prosecco.
This is how it’ll work:
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My name is Sinù Fogarizzu and I’m a vegetarian food writer from the mainland of Venice, Italy. In 2021, I launched Dash of Prosecco, a Substack newsletter about learning to cook, identity and Venetian cuisine. I’m on Instagram & Twitter.
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