One of the highlights of my November trip to Italy was a lunchtime visit Giovanni and I made to the home of Maria Teresa Mascarello in the village of Barolo.
That’s the gardiniera (above) her cousin made her. It was topped with hard-boiled egg wedges and crumbled olive oil-cured tuna. The combination of textures was wonderful, one of the best things I ate on this trip.
The butcher who makes this cacciatora is di sinistra, noted Maria Teresa, on the left side of the political aisle. And that was one of the reasons it was so tasty.
In the U.S., we rarely discuss the ideology of people whose food we eat. In many homes in Italy, such gastronomic scrutiny is de rigueur.
Of course, Bartolo Mascarello aged vinegar was offered to guests to dress their lettuces.
Conversation was dominated by the center-left primary elections (which would take place the following day). Maria Teresa was one of the polling organizers.
But it soon turned to the sticky subject of Natural wine.
Maria Teresa expressed her frustration with the Natural wine movement, noting that she doesn’t consider her wine a Natural wine by any means.
The obsession with “zero sulfur,” she lamented, was misguided.
Maria Teresa’s partner David was geeked for us to taste a Barolo — the Luigi Oddero Rocche Rivera — that he’s keen on.
Traditional in style, this wine showed uncommon balance for a 2003. Its earth and tar prevailed over its fruit but its acidity delivered unexpected brilliance in the mouth. Gorgeous wine.
Conversation also touched upon the recent and ongoing Cannubi controversy.
Political discussion and cultural engagement at the dinner table are considered a responsibility in the homes of many Italians.
In the Mascarello home, of course, the di sinistra ideological legacy of Maria Teresa’s father Bartolo still resides warmly.
And in my experience, there is nothing that pairs better with great Nebbiolo…