Look…I know we are in Italy, home to some of the greatest food in the world, but sometimes you just crave comfort food. This happened with Brittany and I last night. We went to the market to get food and found their International Foods section. Low and behold there was Mexican! (Well, at least there were a few items marked Mexican.) We had both been talking about wishing we had some type of taco or burrito or something and there it was…kind of.
We found Jalisco alla Messicana: zuppa di fagioli piccante. As usual, neither of us could translate much of this, but the picture on the package looked like chili and it had cooking instructions in English. So we grabbed the “chili” packet, a bag of tortilla chips, a bottle of Salsa Messicana, and a package of Gnocco Fritto (fried dumplings) because they looked so tasty. We couldn’t find tortillas or taco shells, so the plan was to make nachos with “chili” and salsa, but then we couldn’t find cheese. Now, again, we are in Italy, also home to some of the greatest cheeses in the world, but finding a package of shredded cheddar cheese here has been difficult. A package of mix di formaggi italiani (mix of Italian cheeses) would have to do.
When we got home and started creating what was to be our fantastic Mexican dish, we started running into issues. The gnocco fritto were either supposed to be heated in the oven or cooked on the stovetop. Well, we have no oven, so stovetop it was, but cooking pre-fried bread on a stovetop is somewhat difficult…imagine trying to cook all sides of a hamburger bun on a stovetop, sure the flat surface is easy, but the round portion is a challenge. We finally figured out that we just needed to heat the dumplings so I just threw them all in a pan and stirred them around occasionally to get them warm. Next problem, the bag of “chili” was dehydrated and needed to be boiled for 10 minutes…no problems there. But after boiling for 10 minutes, it just didn’t look like the image on the package (does it ever though?). What we had in a pot was not chili, but rather exactly what the package said it was zuppa di fagioli piccante – spicy bean soup. Okay…so we weren’t exactly going to have nachos, but we could still make this work. Cheese filled spicy bean soup and chips and salsa…still good, yeah, still good. The next bridge to cross, the cheese was basically parmesan cheese finely grated, but we dumped it in our chili soup anyway. It didn’t have the nice gooey, melty, stringy-ness of good old shredded cheddar, but it was still cheese. We always have chips and salsa though…right…right…turns out…not so much. The tortilla chips were absolutely delicious, like Doritos without the standard flavoring but with salt and lime instead. The salsa though, ketchup…with some spices. Brittany tried to defend it saying it was just the texture, and she was right…it was the texture and the texture was ketchup. In fact, when I initially went to pour the “salsa” into a bowl, nothing came out. I had to use the old Heinz trick and tap the bottom of the bottle. Ketchup…end of story.
So our fantastic Mexican dish turned out to be warm dumplings with bean soup and parmesan and a side of chips and ketchup…sigh.
But when everything was said and done, all mixed together and ready to eat…it was actually really, really good (except the “salsa,” which would have been great with french fries). So we didn’t exactly get the Mexican dish that we wanted, but we did find some new items that were pretty tasty. Good for you, spicy bean soup, good for you.
Italian word (phrase) of the day: zuppa – soup (because apparently you really need to know when you are picking up a packet of soup)
And now you know…