Dui purun Bagna’n’t l’oli. Don’t try pronouncing this unless you were raised speaking the dialect in Piemonte. The Italian version is due peperoni bagnati nell’olio or two peppers bathed in oil. The Piedmontese love playing with this phrase as it is difficult for anyone outside of the region to pronounce. The Piedmontese dialect is actually considered a different language, Gallo-Italic. Many words have more in common with the French language than with Standard Italian which comes from the Florentine-Tuscan vernacular. Piemontese is spoken by roughly 1.6 million people (Italy’s current population is around 60 million) and is on UNESCO’s list of endangered languages as are most dialects in Italy to varying degrees.
When my husband, Mauro, was growing up his parents spoke dialect with each other but insisted he and his sister speak Italian. The result is that he understands the dialect but doesn’t speak it well. His parents understood the importance of speaking the national language which wasn’t widely spoken until the 1950’s. When Italy united in 1861, only 2.5% of the population spoke standard Italian. Sadly, this is the reason these dialects are in danger of extinction all over the country and it is also exactly what immigrants to America did with their children. My great-grandparents on my mom’s side came from Russia and Italy respectively. Neither of my grandparents were allowed to speak their parents’ language. We now understand that kids can easily learn to speak multiple languages but raising multilingual kids is a relatively new trend. If you want to know more about the different dialects or languages in Italy, click here. The Italians now speak a common language but we can argue as to whether they are unified or not. That really only happens once every four years with World Cup Soccer but that might be a topic for another day.
Let’s get back on task and find out what’s cooking today.
I have never been a stranger to sweet peppers. My mom used to drive to Yakima every summer to buy cases of them that she would roast, freeze, can and pickle. I think Mauro’s family was slightly surprised that I was capable of doing these things since we are better known as a fast food nation. Foodies know that there is good food to be found everywhere but I find that this is a stereotype that still persists in many places outside of the U.S.
Last week was filled with peppers…about 35 pounds of peppers to be exact. There is a small town just south of Turin (home of the 2006 winter Olympics) called Carmagnola that is famous for it peppers. In Carmagnola the 67^ Sagra del Peperone ended on September 4th. Ten days of festivities that focus on this lovely vegetable. One of my husband’s colleagues who is from Carmagnola, raises them in his spare time so we buy them from him, a variety called QUADRATO (squared) or BRAGHÈIS, their name in the Piemontese dialect.
Roasting peppers is easy, it just takes time. I cover my roasting pan with aluminum foil so it’s easier to clean later. Turn on your oven’s broiler to 500 degrees Fahrenheit and put your whole washed pepper on in rows. Cram as many on the roasting pan as you can and put them under the broiler, not too close! I place my oven rack in the middle. Start turning them once the skin starts to blacken (7-10 minutes per side). Once all the sides are scorched, put them in a big pot and put a lid on it. I usually start peeling and cleaning them after an hour or so. I try to slice them into halves but quarters work too. I lay them flat in a Ziploc bag and stack the bags on a baking sheet. I don’t remove the baking sheet until they are frozen so the don’t end up in a pile at the bottom of the bag.
These will wonderful this winter when it’s time to make Bagna Cauda, a very flavorful garlic and anchovy sauce. That is a recipe that will come later. They are also wonderful with a simple marinade: some sliced garlic, salt and pepper, good extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar or try them with the Bagnet Verde from my previous post: An Italian Care Package.
We also put up about 6 jars of sweet and sour peppers which are fairly fast and easy to prepare. I use red and yellow bell peppers. I am writing the proportions for one quart of peppers. Use one quart jars.
Sweet and Sour Peppers
1/2 cup of white wine vinegar
1/2 cup of sugar
1 1/2 tsp. of kosher salt
Core and slice the peppers into chunks or strips as you like and pack them into the jars. leaving enough room to add the above ingredients. Put your canning lids on the jars and place in a water bath. When your water starts to boil, set timer for 15 minutes. Turn of the heat when it rings and leave the peppers in the water bath until they’ve cooled down.
Keep them in your pantry until you are ready to eat. We usually eat ours within a year but they are canned so?
The last few kilos of peppers are cleaned cored and cut into bite sized chunks. They are destined for the freezer where I can pull them out this winter and use them for pepperonata.