Most interesting food from North Italy 2012

Cime di rapa salad: raw, with green olives sliced up, and some very sour dressing. Found it at Il Sorpasso (Sicilian place) in Ferrara.

Farinata: a chick pea pie, baked in oil until it goes crispy. Somewhat tasteless but very moreish. Ligurian specialty.

Cappon magro: a layered pie of vegetables, fish, prawns, oysters, topped with a green sauce. Old-fashioned Lenten dish, but quite involved, reminiscent of Monzu cuisine of Sicily. Ristorante Montallegro, Genova.

Fish (eg sea bream), topped with baby artichokes stewed, on a bed of mashed potatoes. Sauce seems to be artichoke liquor, wine, garlic, maybe some fish broth. Antica Trattoria della Palla, Genova.

Stoccafisso with olives, boiled potatoes, parsley, garlic, oil. Divine dish of Liguria. R Montallegro, Genova.  I heard from a friend from San Remo… the old way of softening the fish was by putting it in a bag & hanging from the belt – eventually as it slapped against the thighs, it softens up.  This charming task was mostly left to the stupid son of the family.  Hence called branda cujun in San Remo slang, a “stupid brandade” of sorts.

Risotto alla pilota: Mantovan specialty, boiled rice (generally Vialone Nano, shorter and less starch-shedding than Arborio, Carnaroli, etc), mixed with boiled pork, mostly lean/loin, or else pork sausage. Not wet or cheese-laden like a Milan risotto, and faintly garlicky – almost tasteless but delicious.

Lasagne with white veal sauce and artichokes. Mantovan/Ferraran specialties.

Capellacci stuffed with pumpkin, crushed amaretti, and mostarda, in a meat sauce. Mantovan/Ferraran.

Poached pike with salsa verde, and grilled polenta. Mantovan.

Risotto made with fresh-water fish. Mantovan.

Pasta with cime di rapa and sausage meat. Ferrara.

Potatoes mashed up with tomato, pancetta/lard, onion, garlic – actually a Roman dish