Monday, March 30, 2015

Il toast

Il toast is one of our insidious false friends, words that look alike but have a different meaning in a foreign language. Toast in Italian does not mean "toast" (which is pane tostato) but basically a grilled ham and cheese. I can tell that you are distinctly underwhelmed and even doubtful that Italians would dedicate an English word to such a mundane little thing.

But as you know, Italians do it better, and that includes grilled ham and cheese. Today's Corriere della Sera provides step by step illustrated instructions on how to prepare this at home, because it is almost always eaten out (at a bar).

Here are some tips: use thinly sliced ham (cooked ham, not what we call prosciutto). In theory any melting cheese will do, but they suggest fontina. Some Italians will use sottilette Kraft, which are (gasp) slices of Kraft processed cheese. Mozzarella is not used. Use white bread which is not too thick or thin- your usual American bread will be too thick. You may butter the slices. Then grill until cheese is melted but not oozing out of the bread.

Now the Corriere was most remiss in ignoring the more refined (and tasty) toast farcito, one of my favorites when I'm in Italy. This is stuffed toast, and what it is stuffed with is finely chopped mixed pickled vegetables, which the Italians call giardiniera. I have seen this in American supermarkets and grocery stores, so you could also prepare this yummy version at home. Highly recommended.