Saturday, October 13, 2007

Saltimbocca Alla Romana and... Corn

Talk about things that aren’t authentic. I can’t imagine the circumstance in Italy in which you would be served fresh corn kernels cooked in brown butter with saltimbocca alla romana. Well, really, fresh corn with anything. A while back, I saw a post from the woman who writes Life… Italian Style and she noted that the only way that she ever saw corn served in Italy was from a can. My experience when I briefly lived there was much the same; sometimes I saw it in salads, but from a can (and that's not all bad. I have my own fondness for canned corn). But any suggestion of eating fresh corn (or asking where you could get it) was met with astonished stares, and someone, inevitably, would derisively say, “but... that’s pig food!” You would think I’d suggested forming Alpo into a filet and serving it chicken fried with a side of potato chips baked in Velveeta.

At any rate, you’re probably not going to find this combination in Italy. I hadn’t even been thinking of it until I was at Sosio’s this afternoon, hustling through on errands after Curly’s soccer game. The soccer game was fantastic. Really, kindergartners playing soccer is just insanely fun to watch. One of my girls got her first breakaway ever- she’s usually pretty shy about getting in there- but... she went the wrong way. But she heard us cheering her on and, well, also screaming for her to go the other way, and she managed to change direction and start back up the field! She was so proud. And the thing was, I was so, so, so proud of her. She got in there, she won the ball, she dribbled it; she was an assertive, ball-hungry little girl. It was a huge breakthrough for her, and it was fantastic. Oh, dear. I’m becoming some over-enthusiastic soccer coach. And I don’t really know anything about soccer (except: no hands, and also, throw-ins are done over the head, not sidling down the line to a more advantageous point and sending towards the goal like you’re bowling, which Curly tried to do today). So... Sosio’s. I asked how the artichokes were (I find that it never hurts my produce understanding to ask questions when I’m at Sosio’s) and was told they were great, so I grabbed a couple, thinking I might braise them in a night or two. Then I was told that although you wouldn’t expect it so late in the season, the corn was fantastic. I decided to have it sautéed in butter as a side dish, since I already knew we were having saltimbocca alla romana. Okay, I also wanted to make that because I knew I would get to use my corn zip, which I thought I wouldn't get to use again until next summer. I love using the corn zip. I get that a knife removes the kernels pretty easily, but the corn zip? 1) Fun to say. 2) Fun to use. We also had a standard arugula fennel salad (cooler weather has brought arugula back in force), and the kids each dutifully ate their small piece, but it was really more for us.

They were much more enthusiastic about their corn and saltimbocca alla romana. Buttered corn is really, really good. It’s one of those dishes that has a hundred tiny variations: with a smashed garlic clove that gets fished out, with the butter browned, with a couple of herbs. Ultimately, if the corn is good, the dish will be delicious. It’s really that simple. My boy and Curly ate every bit of both dishes; the sauce from the saltimbocca eased into the corn, a bit, in a quite delicious way.

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