For the past few days, I’ve been enjoying life as a local in Bologna. I first came here to participate in the BlogVille project. As part of this cool initiative organised by the Tourism Board of Emilia-Romagna, they’ve invited bloggers to stay for a few days in an apartment and experience firsthand what their region has to offer. One of the things that got me excited about participating, was the chance to have a kitchen where I could experiment and cook with the amazing local ingredients. What can I say? I’m a simple girl!
Luckily for me, the BlogVille flat was not far from a cluster of streets formed by Via Drapperie, Via Pescherie Vecchie and Via degli Orefice. There, you can find all sorts of delicious foods: from fresh seasonal veggies, to a huge variety of cheeses and cold meats, and, of course, fresh pasta! Anytime I’d pass by I wouldn’t be able to contain myself and I’d buy something. One day in particular, after a conversation with an Italian friend, I had a craving for porcini mushrooms. I didn’t really know how they looked, how much they’d cost, or how to cook them. I just knew that they taste damn good!
So I set out on a mission to get me some porcini… Once I found a store that sold some fresh ones, I asked the lady in my broken Italian to sell me two. She put them in a paper bag and weighed them. She then raised her eyes and looked at me, telling me that it’d cost 17€ for those TWO mushrooms! I said, no thank you! Just give me one, the biggest one… And that’s how I got my 10€ mushroom.
Now, I didn’t want to mess this one up. So I asked the lady who sold me the mushroom, the interwebs, and any friend with a hint of Italian blood running through their veins about how to cook a porcini mushroom. The simplest answer I got from everyone was surprisingly the same. So here it goes…
What you will need
Your very own 10€ porcini mushroom
Some chopped garlic, according to your personal taste
Some olive oil
Pasta, I chose spaghetti; but you can do whatever you want.
Some peperoncino (chilies)
Some parsley or basil for garnishing
How to do it…
First things first, pour yourself a glass of wine, select some nice cooking music and start heating the water for the pasta. To clean the porcini mushroom, you just need to brush them off with a dry or semi-damp cloth. Then, you can go ahead and chop them! I just diced mine and it turned out OK :)
When you’re ready, heat the olive oil in a pan and add the garlic (remember to keep the fire low at this point or the garlic will burn, and that ain’t nice!). Add the pasta to the boiling water and pour yourself another glass of wine ;) Enjoy the aroma of the oil and garlic mixing together, and after a couple of minutes add the porcini mushroom.
It doesn’t take long for the porcini to cook and absorb the oil, so you should only cook them for 2 – 3 minutes only. In the meantime, add the peperoncino and salt. And that’s pretty much it! Drain the pasta, put the porcini and garlic mix on top, sprinkle your herbs and add more olive oil if you think it’s too dry.
A ten euro mushroom?! Wow! How did it taste? Was it worth it?
Hi Megan! It was actually pretty tasty, but what surprised me the most was the smell. It was very aromatic and a bit garlicky as well. To me it was worth it as a special treat, something that I know I won’t find just about anywhere else; but for sure it wouldn’t be something I’d buy on a regular basis :)
I love Italy and go visit at least every second year all the way from South Africa. I have been to Bologna a couple of times and enjoy that whole area. I always stay in a self-catering place whether its an apartment or closeby on a farm as this gives me the opportunity to buys all those lovely goodies at the markets and cook up a storm. I definitely think your porcini mushroom was worth it and not only did it taste good, you will never forget the expereince either.
I know! Cooking your own food with local ingredients is such a joy! I’m not a big spender, but if there’s anything I don’t mind splurging in, it’s good quality food! Thanks for your comment, Cynthia :)
Oh my word…so lovely! That plump, rich brown is just too amazing. I love that you chose to prepare it so simply. Such a treat to spend time with you in Bologna! Thanks for sharing your joy of real food :)
Thanks, Bethany! I was at a coffee shop today & THAT song that Ted likes so much came on, the one that Mr. Turtle was playing at the flat in Bologna; couldn’t help to burst out laughing! Still can’t remember the name, though. It was really fun hanging out with you! But next time you have to put your baking gloves on! I want some of those brownies! :D
Just head to Transilvania in June – September and chances are that you can find fresh porcini (called hribi in Romanian) for around 2-3 pieces for 1 Euro. I usually ask my relatives in a village to pick me 20-30 kg during the season. Then I will clean and froze them and use them year around. If I am not mistaken most of porcini from Romania is exported to Italy.
Wow, George, that’s a great tip! :) Didn’t know you could get them that cheap there. However, I couldn’t freeze them, because I’m traveling all the time. In any case, it’d be nice to get some for cooking not long afterwards and not having to pay 10€ :) Plus, I’d get to visit Transilvania and I’ve heard it’s pretty cool!
Lucky you, we were in Italy for the month of June and part of July and no one had local porcinis because of the lack of rain. They were all coming from Romania :(
I’m sorry to hear that :( On the other hand though, that’s just another reason to go back to Italy another time, isn’t it?
[…] Your porcini mushroom pasta looks very tasty! Do you try to learn local dishes in the places you visit? Can you tell us about […]