I can't agree with this more so it better, so I won't try to put it in my own words! I will just re-post this from Bon Appétit Magazine. There are times I wish that I was Italian and it wasn't just because of their simple cooking ways! It was because of their food and culture! The recipes from this post look great too-- might have to try one next week for my goal of trying one new recipe a week!
"Who among us hasn't been touched in some way by the current global economic crisis? The news is unavoidable, and much of it sobering. These are difficult times—but they're also interesting times. Some things, for example, haven't changed at all. We still have to eat, to feed our families and ourselves. All of us. Every day. How then should we go about our gastronomic lives, when all around us the winds of change are howling?
We ask ourselves what is necessary and what we can do without; paring down to what is elemental, essential. We try not to waste. It's tempting to look at frugality as a sort of noble, unnatural, and not-that-fun giving up of things—the teeth-gritting renunciation of our most cherished indulgences and extravagances. And yet, some cultures—however hard the times or great the need for parsimony—have always refused to equate deliciousness with wealth, insisting that there be flavor even (or perhaps especially) where there is not abundance. They trust that creativity and resourcefulness will do more to feed a family than the grim-faced determination to simply put food on the table.
Look at Italy. Nowhere is Italian life more seductive than in the kitchen and at the table. Why is that? The typical Italian home kitchen has a tiny fridge and nearly invisible freezer, no dishwasher or garbage disposal, and very little in the way of gadgetry. The food we dream of when we think about Italian cooking tends toward simplicity and makes use of the most humble ingredients: spaghetti tossed with olive oil, garlic, and peperoncini; ripe summer tomatoes and basil heaped on toasted country bread; a handful of figs, a wedge of cheese, and a glass of rough red wine.
There is an air of celebration at the Italian table that has absolutely nothing to do with whether the people crowded around it are eating three-inch-thick grilled bistecca alla fiorentina or a porridgy soup made with cabbage, beans, and day-old bread. What we love about la cucina italiana is not simply the incredibly delicious food, but also the generous spirit that permeates Italians' culinary lives—from market to kitchen to table—regardless of whether or not there's much money in the bank, there's a raging political crisis, or the home team has just lost in the soccer finals.
There is a genius in Italy for making a little go a long way. Take, for example, the humble white bean, known in lean years as la carne dei poveri ("the poor man's meat"). In their most basic form, the beans are soaked overnight, then simmered for a couple of hours with garlic, peppercorns, a sprig of sage, and a splash of olive oil. On the first day, they are eaten as a side dish or perhaps spooned over toasted bread and drizzled with olive oil. On the second day—and there is always a second day, and sometimes even a third—any number of things might happen. If it's summertime, the leftover beans are likely to be tossed in a salad with tuna and sliced red onion. In winter, they might be simmered with tomatoes and fresh sausages or used as the base for a thick, warming soup.
So let's just pretend we're Italian. I say this in all seriousness: Why not use these trying times as an opportunity—or an invitation—to do something we have to do anyway (namely, eat) with all the grace, simplicity, enthusiasm, and generosity of spirit we can muster?"