Adventures of an Italian Food Lover

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Some time ago I was contacted by Ivonne of Cream Puffs in Venice who asked me if I was interested in participating in a food blog event organized by her and Catherine of A Blithe Palate involving the cookbook Adventures of an Italian Food Lover by Faith Heller Willinger. The book is a presentation of recipes from all over Italy but not only recipes, the author also presents her friends though them and in this way she creates a personal relationship between her, her friends and the recipes. A food lover’s walk down the memory lane so to speak. So today, several food blogs around the world will publish posts about the food memories that are stirred by a recipe in the book. We are free to choose any recipe we want but we are not supposed to publish the recipe, nor make a review of the cookbook, just give you a peek into our own food memories.

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I have chosen the very first recipe of the book, gnocco fritto. The reasons to why I wanted to make this are several, one is that my brother-in-law makes great gnocco fritto and it brings forth memories of all our children, the six cousins, having a great time with each other. I really like seeing them together because they enjoy themselves a lot but most of all because they have such a direct and personal relationship with each other. A bit different from my own experience of cousins. I have something like 30 cousins but there is only one younger than me. This is because mainly due to the fact that my mother was the youngest of 13 out of which 9 survived to have children. One of the two cousins closest to me in age, Ulrik, unfortunately died when he was 20 and I was 19 and it was with him I had the strongest bonds when I was young. He lived in the place where my mother was born, a place in the north of Sweden that I loved and idolized (if you can say so about a place) when I grew up. Sure I fell in love with my favourite aunt’s son, my cousin Ingvar, but I was 7 and he 19 so nothing much happened out of that. Not that I and Ulrik ever had any tender feelings for each other and to be honest I think that he preferred my older brother to me but we still did things together, I especially remember those years in my mid-teens when I often went up there to spend time with a childless aunt of mine during the holidays. In Sweden that was the age when you hung around on a type of extremely light motorbike, I think 50 cc, called moped and we went all over the place with him driving and me sitting behind, swosching through the beautiful countryside of Ă…ngermanland and just enjoying life. I especially remember one winter when I was there when he came to fetch me almost every night to go to the village Bond film festival, I remember the darkness of the nights, the whiteness of the snow and how the icy wind bit my cheeks. And how happy I felt. So Ulrik, these gnocchi fritti are for you. I miss you.

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Gnocco fritto is what can be described as lozenges of flat bread that you fry until golden, it comes from the Emilia region around Modena. They are soft and incredibly good when eaten still warm and with thin slices prosciutto di Parma on top.
To conclude this post I want to say that I had no plans what so ever to write about my cousin Ulrik when I started writing (I was going to write about the Italian past of my family) but thanks to the labyrinthine ways of my memory, I have relived some very nice but Swedish moments of my life and I would like to thank you Ivonne and Cathrine for involving me in this event!

L