Photo shoot! Spaghetti alla chitarra

I did it!  I took pictures of my food. And, it felt great!

I’ve had the urge to snap a photo of my plate at a couple of the meals we’ve had in Bologna so far (I must blog about the tortellini after all…) But, I haven’t had the guts!

These days, you see people photographing their food in the US all the time. Sure, waiters and chefs may think it’s strange, but they seem to be used to it by now.  But in Italy? I don’t know…

Well, Wednesday evening was the perfect opportunity for me to confront my fear of food photography.  I went to a cooking class with a group from my language school.

When I arrived, two of the women were already snapping away with their point-and-shoots.  I didn’t take out my camera right away (a large Canon DSLR, mind you).  I started chopping some almonds and pondered the situation.  “Okay.  There are already two people taking photos.  Maybe a third will be overdoing it?  No.  Don’t be silly.  I made an extra stop at home before class just to get my camera.  Ah!  I need to pay attention.  I’m chopping teeny almonds!  Ah!  These almonds are stunning on this cutting board!  That lady is taking pictures of her almonds.  I should be taking pictures of my almonds!  Maybe I can just ask her for her pictures?  No. Don’t be a wuss.  Do it.  Go get the camera.  Ah!  Watch your fingers!”  After several minutes of this internal banter (more than I would like to admit), I somehow found the courage, and out came the Canon.

Let’s talk about the main attraction… The Food!  During the class we made:

Primi/First course: Spaghetti alla chitarra e carciofi/Spaghetti alla chitarra with artichokes

A chitarra is a cooking instrument (shown below) used to cut this particular type of square spaghetti into strips.  “Chitarra” literally translates to “guitar”.  You can see that the device itself resembles a guitar.  You also have to sort of strum the strings like a guitar to get all of the pasta pushed through.  While the chitarra is fun to use, our teacher let us know that they can be costly and that you can get the same effect by simply folding the sheet of pasta loosely into a flat roll and cutting it into strips with a sharp knife.

Our spaghetti was served with a delicious sauce containing artichokes, shallots, garlic, and cream and was topped with grated parmesan.  The artichokes were first boiled and then sautéed with the shallot and garlic.

Secondi/Second course: Involtini alla genovese (cipollata)/Stuffed beef rolls with onion stew (from Genoa)

An involtini can be made with many kinds of meat (beef, chicken, lamb, pork).  Ours were made with beef and stuffed with diced cheese, garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper.  You place the fixins’ in the center of the fillet of beef, roll it up, and secure the roll with toothpicks.  The rolls were browned and then simmered in a broth with  sautéed onions, halved tomatoes, and white wine.

Dolci/Dessert: Amaretti di Modena/Almond flavored macaroons (from Modena)

The macaroons were made from a mix of almonds, egg whites, amaretto, and sugar.  They were served with an irresistible chocolate sauce that contained cream as well as a amaretto that we infused with crushed dried peperoncinos to give the sauce a little kick.

I’ll shut up now, and let the photos take it from here.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

La chitarra in action

Pasta post-chitarra

Artichokes, shallots, garlic, and oil. Cream on the way!

Primi: Spaghetti alla chitarra e carciofi

Our involtini simmering in “una cipollata” (onion stew)

Secondi: Involtini alla genovese

Dolci: Amaretti di Modena

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