March 25, 2011

Are we all donkeys?

When I turned twelve Nonna told me that I was old enough to swear in Italian. She would teach me a word to use when I was mad or frustrated only if I promised to refrain from using the English counterpart. Though I can’t remember the exact word she taught me, I don’t think it was an actual swearword. Most likely it was Italian for crap. Or donkey.

Nonna likes to tell you how her mother never swore; instead she would just call you a pig or a donkey. Any reference to a barnyard animal indicated that you were in big trouble- except not really. Great Grandma Chinni was not so good with the discipline and would never swat a fly. She would yell, “brutto porco, cicuco, sporco!” (ugly pig, donkey, you filthy) at the kids and they would just roll their eyes.

I am trying to imagine what would happen if, today, our family gathered around the table and started calling each other donkeys and pigs in Italian. It would probably go something like:
“The liberals are destroying our government!”
“Brutto porco, cicuco, sporco!”
“I am a bleeding heart and want health care for everyone.”
“Brutto porco, cicuco, sporco!”
“God is punishing the East Coast with snow because there lives too many democrats.”
“Brutto porco, cicuco, sporco!”
I actually think it would make for great fun. Think of how well we’d all get along if everyone was yelling the same insults? In the end we’d all end up as donkeys. I’m thinking family experiment…

Or maybe we should just keep the spice in the food and stick with niceties at the table… probably the better idea.

Speaking of spice, remember those fabulous peppers I bought last month? They have been dried and ground, and are ready to burn up some palettes! Who needs Italian insults when you have homemade hot pepper flakes?

Habanero Pepper Flakes
10 Habanero peppers

*A food processor

Great Grandmother Chinni would string up peppers and dry them in the attic. I don’t have an attic so instead I to use them as a table centerpiece. 

Cut the peppers in half. Spread out on a tray, skin side down. Let dry for at least 3 to 4 weeks.

Before processing, I leave four or five half peppers in tact and store in a plastic bag. These are great to add to long simmering soups or sauces.

To process, you may want to consider protective eyewear or at least a handkerchief around your mouth. Also, it’s best to open a window. Pulse the peppers for a good two minutes. As they grind down, pepper micro dust will escape the processor and inhabit your kitchen for about an hour... or two.

Store flakes in a jar or plastic bag.  If offering as a condiment warn people of the intense spice… or not and be amused.

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