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Insalata Caprese -- Addio! (Update)

Even occasional visitors to il bel paese know the simple but delectable antipasto known as "insalata caprese."Here's a mouth-watering refresher from Wikipedia:

Insalata Caprese (Salad in the style of Capri) is a simple salad from the Italian region of Campania, made of sliced fresh mozzarella, plum tomatoes and basil. It is seasoned with salt, black pepper, and olive oil. The main ingredients are similar to Pizza Margherita, but are not cooked.Ideally, the mozzarella is di bufala campana, the olive oil is extra virgin from the peninsula of Sorrento and the tomatoes and basil are grown in the full sun of the mezzogiorno.The dish reproduces the colours of the flag of Italy.

Ahim! we may have the heavenly dish no longer. The problem is that the bufale from whose milk the mozzarella is produced have been feeding on all too earthly contaminants. Imports from Italy have already been banned in Korea and Japan; the European union is demanding information that the Italians have been slow too provide (what else is new?); and tourists may not be encouraged to be told that 84% of the mozzarella is consumed in Italy and not exported.Update:News from Corriere della Sera:The European Union satisfied by Italian government reports and reassurances, but France and Portugal still cautious. Japan has released blocked mozzarella imports, and Tokyo pizza-lovers breathe sigh of relief.Meanwhile, Nicholas Clifford, in his comment below, adroitly seizes the opportunity to promote "insalata vermontese!"

About the Author

Rev. Robert P. Imbelli, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, is Associate Professor of Theology Emeritus at Boston College.

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Cheer up! A mile from where I sit on a Vermont hillside, a former dairy farm now largely in the busness of raising heifers, has also been raising numbers of young bufale, who, when they reach a certain age, are shipped off to the tony town of Woodstock on the other side of the state, which produces mozarella from their milk. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to be sold in our local stores, and I can only imagine it makes its way to the higher priced New York and Boston markets. Perhaps the insalata caprese will become the insalata vermontese? Not quite the same thing as the sunny mezzogiorno, admittedly (it's snowing here this morning), but maybe one could grow to love it.

Insalata Vermontese?But surely that would also require an olive oil infused with maple syrup. ;)

Ah, those Italians and their food!Totally off mozzarella, but I made my mother-in-law a pork roast once that was nearly perfect, rubbed with a little olive oil and rosemary, juicy and succulent. Twenty years later, when she was sick and could scarcely eat anything, she used to ask me if I remembered that pork roast, and then she would make me recount in detail how I prepared it and how it looked all sliced up on the platter, and how it smelled and how we had homemade gingerbread for dessert until I felt like George telling Lenny about the rabbits.Remembering how much Ma enjoyed that roast--and me a non-Italian daughter-in-law!--is one of the most satisfying things I've ever done in my life and maybe makes up for the fact that I make my polenta in the microwave.

Dear Jean,Thanks for sharing the pork roast story. It reminds me a bit of "Babette's Feast."Apropos, one of my favorite essays is by Andre Dubus, "On Charon's Wharf" in his colleced essays, "Broken Vessels." Do you know it? I would be interested in your reaction to it.

The only French lit I ever read was "Madame Bovary," Collette and Simone de Beauvoir. And not in the original French, I'm afraid. I will have to look up the essay sometime. I did see "Babette's Feast," though I'm afraid those little squabs with their heads put back on marred my enjoyment somewhat.

Hello All,I make insalata caprese on occasion and it is my fiancee's favorite salad. I'mlooking forward to making it this summer for her. My six year old niece Maggie will surely want to help me since she like helping us Vanderschraaf men cook.But Jean, I am going to have to learn from you how to cook that pork roast!

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