I just finished Laura Fraser’s “All Over the Map,” a followup to “An Italian Affair.” Like its predecessor, it is based on Fraser’s real life from 2005-2011. As she approaches age forty and beyond, her life is not looking like she had imagined as a younger woman. Finding a lasting love relationship is hard. But she has lots of friends from all over, and editors calling about the next assignment relating to women’s issues in the places all over the world and her relationship with herself.
Here are some of the foods and drinks mentioned in its pages:
Niçoise Pizza (also called pissaladière): Niçoise means “of Nice, France.” This French city was under a Italian rule for much of its past, though, and it shows in their cuisine. Its dishes are light, full of farm-fresh ingredients, with simple herb and olive oil bases. Niçoise pizza typically features oil-marinated tuna, green beans, olive oil, chopped tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and onion. The olive oil used matters a lot: extra virgin olive oil is used for salads and cold preparations, regular olive oil is used for cooking. For the Nicoise, farm to table is not a fad–it never went out of style to begin with.
Bandol wine: A wine made from Mourvèdre, Grenache & Cinsaut grapes. Mourvedres are grown on the Southern coast of France, not far from Cassis.
Feuilleté: Puff pastry or phyllo dough. Imagine a baked rectangle of phyllo dough stuffed with cheese and fresh vegetables, then baked, or baked, then topped with fresh berries and whipped cream.
Totano: Squid in Italian, specifically in Tuscany and surrounding areas. The totano is also called the European Flying squid, because this species is known for leaping from the water. In the States, calamari is usually the “catch-all” term for fried rings of squid, but higher-end Italian eateries would distinguish the type of squid. For instance, in Italy’s Aoelian Islands, Fraser was enjoying a whole totano stuffed with breadcrumbs baked in olive oil.
Criollo: Creole in Spanish. Food-wise, it means the overlap of Spanish background with the native foods of each island and colony they established, incorporating the traditions of indigenous peoples and Africans along the way. In the book, Fraser enjoys Peruvian criollo,which blends Spanish, African, Andean, Asian and indigenous traditions.
Picantería: Restaurants in Arequipa, Peru, noted for serving local cuisine. Arequipa is located in the South central portion of Peru, about 16 hours southwest of Lima. Ricotto Relleno (peppers stuffed with beef, raisins, olives, peanuts and spice, topped with cheese that bubbles over the pepper when baked.), adobo (pork chop soup with a rocotto pepper base), Chupe de Camarones (shrimp chowder), ocopa, and for the vegetarians, Soltado de Queso (diced vegetables, starch and legumes sprinkled with vinegar). According to Expat Chronicles, finding veggie cuisine is not an easy thing in Peru. Another fun fact, you can order combo platters of several things and one combo is called “Americanos.”
Tiradito: Raw filets of white fish sliced deli thin, seasoned with salt and pepper. Then lime juice and aji pepper paste, pepper flakes, grated garlic, grated ginger, or celery are added. As you may have guessed, this dish was created by Japanese immigrants on the coast of Peru. What’s interesting is that though the fish is untouched by heat, the acids in the lemon juice and other ingredients cook the fish in their own way;the same phenomenon happens in another dish, cebiche (ceviche).
Aji de Gallina: Shredded chicken spiced with a sauce made of evaporated milk, boiled potatoes, garlic, onion, and aji peppers typically served over rice, or stuffed into a folded pastry (empanada) and baked.
Causas: Layers of yellow potatoes stuffed with fish or avocado.
Lucuma: An upside-down teardrop-shaped fruit grown on trees in the valleys of Peru and Chile. It’s skin is dark green, its pulp is a saffron yellow and dry, not juicy, and it has a single pit instead of multiple seeds. It tastes maple and sweet potato. The fruit’s pulp can be dried and ground to make flour. Raw it can be used to make pulp cocktails or smoothies, or used in sauces. Like the sweet potato, the lucuma is packed with fiber and nutrients.
Pisco sours: Pisco is unaged brandy. In a sour, it is combined with lemon juice, egg white, simple syrup, and several dashes of bitters. The egg white foams and rises to the top. Egg white substitute can be used, but it will not be the same.
Chiles en nogada: A roasted poblano chile stuffed with fruits, spices and nuts, dipped in batter then fried. Once plated, it is drizzled in a milky white ground walnut sauce containing ground walnuts, goat cheese, milk, and sherry. As a finishing touch, the pepper covered in sauce is sprinkled with parsley and pomegranate seeds.