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You say Frittata, I say Italian Omelet

June 13, 2009

When I was little, I thought Richmond was centuries away from D.C. All I knew of the state capital was that my grandparents, artists from Brooklyn who lived in a beautiful old Victorian, lived in a house with enough music and sculpting equipment to start a commune. Richmond was the center for my family, abstract sculpture, jazz music, innovation, culinary perfection, and Italian New Yorkers. So hysterical, now that I think about it! We would drive the long, hard, one hour and fifteen minutes, to arrive in time for lunch. A young vegetarian, rejecting meat at age 12 because of a monumental viewing of a cow slaughter on TV, my Grandmother found ways to appease me. She set out the cold cuts for the family, and an Italian omelet for me. I never knew what was Italian about it, other than the fact that my grandmother, from Bari, created the meal. Now this omelet was nothing like Dad’s Sunday omelet, enriched with flavor, filled with depth, the omelet allowed me to eat at Grandma’s without feeling empty at the end. It tasted like family, and was never found at Italian restaurants.

After college, my roommate F. cooked dinner for the two of us. She announced, “Oh, I am going to make a frittata.” I was clueless. What is this wondrous Spanish dish? Why did it sound so fancy? She poured the eggs in the pan, with spinach, and potato. It looked familiar, but I wasn’t sure how. We sat down and gobbled up our meal, and then, it dawned on me: frittata= Italian Omelet. Now, eight years later, a frittata is trendy– a brunch staple. However, 20 years ago, this remained lunch or dinner for our family, and reminded us all of our grandmother, the champion of all familial folklore. Apparently Serafina translated all her meals to her silly grandkids, who would eat anything called Italian. We ate Italian eggballs, or pasta, or sauce, or bread. Now, I know them as arancini, or penne/fusilli/farfalle/cappellini, or puttanesca/bolognese/al burro e panna, or focaccia. By the way, the name cappellini always threw me through a loop. I would beg my mom for the cheap angel hair pasta served at friends houses, where her box of de Cecco cappellini was the superior version. Oh, kids.

And now, I introduce my interpretation of the Frittata, but please realize the measurements and timing are estimates.

Serafina’s Lunch

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 tb olive oil
  • 1/2 bunch of asparagus/ chopped
  • 1 potato sliced thinly
  • 1 tb Herbs Provence
  • 1/3 cup scallions chopped
  • 1/3 cup feta
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven 400.
  2. Mix the eggs, milk, Herbs Provence, salt and pepper in a bowl. Whisk.
  3. Pour olive oil in a saucepan, heat medium.
  4. Saute potato slices, 5 min.
  5. Cook asparagus 1 min in microwave with water. Drain.
  6. Pour egg mixture into saucepan, let sit for 2 min. Meanwhile, use a spatula to loosen the edges.
  7. Add scallions, asparagus, feta, and let eggs sit. Still run the spatula under the mixture.
  8. When the mixture has solidified, place in the oven for 10 minutes.
  9. Serve with a side salad and bread.

Serves 4-8 depending on sides.
FYI: Frittata doesn’t work on the spellcheck

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