Monday, September 6, 2010

The Official Sunday Dinner Questionnaire- Louis Marchesano

I am thrilled to announce our newest feature column... The Official Sunday Dinner Questionnaire.  And to get the ball rolling, we have the incomparable Louis Marchesano responding.  In addition to being a great cook and food-lover, Louis is the curator of prints and drawings at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, CA.  For a glimpse of what Louis does doing his work-day, check out this interview regarding his most recent project Printing in the Grand Manner:  Charles Le Brun and Monumental Prints in the Age of Louis XIV.  Louis and his wife Lisa Anne Auerbach were also recently featured in our Heirloom Foods column: "Sunday Dinner with Lisa and Louis".  Thank you, Louis, for starting us off with such a passionate response.
Rosemary and Calabrian bean plants take over the front yard at the home of Louis Marchesano and
Lisa Anne Auerbach, Summer 2010.

1. What is your favorite food to eat? Why?
You know I am of Italian descent and I hate to carry on the stereoptypes which is why I am not going to say Pizza. Figs. They are ripening just now and I love to get up in the morning, go outside,  pick figs, eat them, close my eyes and think of Calabria and my father who would go to farms and steal as many as he could from orchards, usually those owned by his father. I have green Genoas in the front garden and a dark variety in the back. 

2. What is your favorite food to cook? Why?
You know I'm of Italian descent.... Tadgiareii (or Tagliatelle). This evening I made this pasta from scratch (1 egg for 1 cup of flour; pinch salt, dab olive oil) with a simple sauce of tomatoes from my garden. This pasta is delicate and silky. There's a lot of  dry flour (to keep it from sticking) so when you drop the little bundles of pasta into the boiling  water they dissappear for a moment under whirlpools of  starch and then, Presto, the broad but thin strands float to the surface ready to eat in a moment.  A week after I met Lisa Auerbach, we made this pasta together and, Presto!, a year later we got hitched...

3. Who or what is your greatest culinary influence? Why is he/she/it an inspiration? 

You know I'm of Italian descent and I really hate the idea of living the stereotype, but I have to say it's my mother, who is alive and well near Toronto. It really is. She never made a hollywood production out of preparing the food, at least not in the same way that I do. When I make tadgiareii (see 2 above) I expect Lisa or you or anyone to go ape nuts and if things like polite conversation get in the way of focusing on the food I always insist on changing the topic. The other thing that Maria is really good at is throwing stuff together. For homemade pasta (1. above), I never saw Maria measure anything. I'm not sure she owns a measuring spoon or cup, come to think of it.

4. What is your favorite kitchen utensil? Why?
The fork.

5. What did you eat for dinner this past Sunday?
See 2 above. We also had a green salad with green and red leaf lettuces and deer tongue lettuce. A tomatoe salad with fresh calabrian pepper, parsely, garlic.

6. When you were growing up, did you eat Sunday dinner or another meal that brought friends and family together on a regular basis? If so, what you you eat?
Yes. It was usually a roast beef of  some sort with mashed potatoes, peas, and believe it or not white sliced bread (which we all thought was really exotic and a good gesture to show the world that we had assimilated). My father is a meat wholesaler, so the roasts we ate had been aging in the cooler for about 3 weeks, which made them as tender as  an angel's bum.

7. Do you have a garden? If so, what do you grow in it?
I have two, one of which is featured in Fritz Haeg's Edible Estates (see the double-page spread in full colour in the second edition). Figs (see 1 above). Tomatoes of various varieties including something called an Old German; Pippi alla udia (aka. Calabrian pepper); Vaianneii (settembrai): a calabrian bean that can be eaten as a kind of broad bean or as a seed; parsley and basil and cilantro and oregano. I have a lot of native plants to attract beneficial insects which means that I am a yuppie.

8. What is your ultimate food fantasy?
Not to have to sweat when I think about smuggling homemade salami into the country. This fantasy has come true because you can now bring cured meats into the USA and it's all legal  like.

9. If you could choose to have any person living or dead prepare a meal for you, who would it be? What would you want to eat?
Susan, you know I am of Italian descent and you know my answer (see three above). 

10. Fill in the blank: "The most important element of a good meal is ______." 

Homemade Lisa-- a fabulous cook of all food Italian, like Kale and Potatoes, bean dishes of all sorts, bread and pane duro (a calabrian hard bread) and much much more. 
Lisa Anne Auerbach shows off a dish of beans and potatoes in front of Calabrian bean stalks
growing in the front yard, Summer 2010.