Discover Napoli – fundraising lunch
|Photo courtesy of Mondo Mulia|
We did it yet again. After the fun my sister @squadrilla75 and I had cooking for charity in November, we thought it would only be fair to cook together again.
This time, we’d need to show case our very own home town’s food. Neapolitan food has somehow been fairly popular recently, in the guise of the ‘perfect pizza’ and Napoli has been the food destination of choice of many London food personalities.
I am very jealous and very protective of my Neapolitan heritage. As I read in a tweet by fellow (half) Neapolitan Gina quoting Astarita, 2005 “Many of us are the city’s harshest critics, and yet all of us are fiercely defensive when outsiders speak ill of it, as they often do“, I find myself in complete agreement. I am an immigrant, like Gina’s dad was, and I carry within me my Neapolitan roots, yet my new ones are deeply rooted in British soil. I am between two worlds, and feel equally strongly about each of them.
I firmly believe only people who were born in Napoli or raised by a Neapolitan with Neapolitan food can truly understand and cook authentic food. There, I have said it. If you didn’t grown up in Napoli, you cannot make real struffoli or real sartu’. Or rather, you can but you won’t be able to put Neapolitan love into it. The essence of it would be missing. The spirit of Napoli. Ok enough sentimentalism...
For our third fundraising lunch, I had been practicing a lot. In fact, years. Myself and @Squadrilla75 have been cooking these dishes for ever, so we felt fairly confident. We put the menu together in the last couple of months, inspired by the proximity of the chosen date with Easter. We picked a couple of non Easter classics and the menu was sorted.
The charity chosen was also different from the previous one. Having raised an amazing £817 for FAI, we thought we should find a smaller, more focused cause. This was, thanks to our auntie, identified in L’Altra Napoli. It only took me a few minutes watching their videos and I was sold. A great cause, L’Altra Napoli works in Rione Sanita’, one of the oldest areas of the city, with local kids and families, teaching them art, music, crafts and ultimately, skills that will hopefully ensure a bright future.
|Sartu’ di riso – photo courtesy of Roadstar|
Our guests for the day included some loyal supporters such as our friends Giulia and Rosana and we are very grateful for the help shown in our endeavour so far! For this event, we received overall an incredible amount of support. Gina aka the Chaotic Cook joined us as a guest diner but also as a guest chef – she prepared two fantastic classic side dishes from the local tradition. Melanzane a funghetti and Roast peppers.
|The Chaotic Cook‘s peppers – photo courtesy of Mondo Mulia|
Our friends from Southern Italian supper club Eat at my Place prepared another classic – Pastiera, perfect for Easter.
|Pastiera – photo courtesy of Roadstar|
|Genovese – photo courtesy of Roadstar|
The centre piece of our meal was kid goat, a staple on Neapolitan Easter tables. We were very lucky to receive an enormous amount of meat from Cabrito. They provides this unusual meat (unusual for the UK!) to some great restaurants (including Michelin starred St john) and they were incredibly generous towards our fundraiser event.
Capretto alla Pasqualina was prepared the traditional way: white onions (from Napoli!), datterini tomatoes bought from Nife is Life (another of our supporters), garlic, salt, pepper, olive oil. It was delicious, if I may say so myself and I can’t take credit – this was two generatious of Neapolitans at their best.
|Capretto – photo courtesy of Roadstar|
@squadrilla75 produced one of the top dishes of the day, the Casatiello – another very traditional savoury cake with provolone cheese, salame Napoletano (also brought straight from Napoli) and eggs. The eggs proved a topic of conversation when diners were not sure if these had been boiled before or after baking the bread! The recipe is from our family, too.
|Casatiello – photo courtesy of Mondo Mulia|
To finish off, after the pastiera and the baba’, we served home made mostaccioli. Yes, I hear some people say – these are not an Easter dish! They are, rather, Christmas‘. I however felt they are such a big part of our sweet tradition, I wanted to add them to be enjoyed at the end of the meal with a Terrone espresso. Su-Lin, one of our guests, had kindly brought some limoncello and sambuca and some fantastic maraschino cherries to share with everyone else.
|Mostaccioli – photo courtesy of Mondo Mulia|
We hope our diners enjoyed a true Neapolitan meal – it really could not have been more authentic! Hopefully everyone also took a few moments to read the information about the charity we provided – we have raised a great amount of money which will go a long way to help L’Altra Napoli.
Thank you everyone who came to lunch, and everyone who supported us with donations and discounts. A full list is here.
A blog post from our friend Linguina dei Campi on the event is here
A lovely blog post from our loyal diner Hot & Chili on the event is here