This post is also available in: Italian

The term ‘days of the blackbird’ comes from an ancient legend that tells that the blackbirds at the beginning were white and January had fun to make it rain and snow every time the blackbird came out of its nest. Then the blackbird took refuge in a fireplace full of ash and from then on it became black.

Tradition has been respected, cold and snow have arrived regularly throughout Italy with embarrassing low temperatures even for my coat. But fortunately there are other ways in which one can heat and restore acceptable body balances.

Nonna Rosa, my Ciociara DOC made broth, is a great weapon against the cold. But also it is one of the dishes from which nothing is thrown away and with boiled meatballs. Extremely amazing meatballs. Because the ingredients were just right and Nonna Rosa was Grandma Rosa.

The history of meatballs is as old as man: some say they are of Persian, Arabic, Armenian origin. Almost all of them tend to the Persian origin where the Kofta (today’s meatballs) derive from the ancient koofteh (minced meat).

Apicius, gastronomist and cook of the I-II century thanks to whose books we know the cuisine of Rome, tells us that they were prepared using myrtle and garum, the famous condiment based on fermented fish entrails and salt: a combination that still leaves us wondering.

However, when the Arabs conquered the Persians, they fell in love with meatballs and spread them across Spain and throughout Europe and in Italy (in the version without garum at the time that there was no longer the Roman Empire).

One thing perplexes me: how did they spread throughout the world. From Japan to China, to Vietnam, to every country: every culture has its meatballs and you can find them wherever you go. Is it that meatballs are in the genetics of man? Are they part of his DNA? For me they are the heritage of humanity.

Grandma Rosa’s meatballs recipe

The first thing is to boil the meat the day before you want the meatballs, but this is another recipe, because it is just from the top grade boiled meat that this recipe is started.

The second step is to chop the meat adding the breadcrumbs from stale bread, a little parmesan cheese, 1 egg, very little garlic, salt and parsley. Bread is something to be reused to avoid throwing it away and wasting this holy food. The bread is blessed at every mass and handed out in the church on special days like that of Saint Anthony.

From this mixture we make medium-sized balls and lightly squash them. Even Artusi suggests to make them less round to encourage cooking.

We roll the meatballs first in the egg and then in the breadcrumbs. Now fry them!

Accompany them with a seasoned vegetable. But the real companion is a field salad with vinegar, the real one. Leave the balsamic for the strawberries, this is a strong dish.

In the glass I had a Trebbiano, but a traditional Pilsner beer also does not clash.

Dario Magno

ITA Semplice spadellatore casalingo, fin da bambino sono stato affascinato dall’odore dei banchi del mercato al mattino presto: sono fonte di ispirazione. Il piatto che porto a tavola la domenica è frutto di un immersione nei colori e negli odori di quella magica ‘scatola’ del mercato rionale. L’occhio e la gola vanno quasi esclusivamente sui prodotti locali che miscelo quasi di getto, non progetto nulla. Odio chi dice io l’avrei fatto così: fallo e non rompere! Ci sono pizzicaroli (romanesco) che sono più bravi di psicoterapeuta, li amo. In ogni posto che vado porto a casa qualcosa un formaggio, un salume e un vino. Vino, croce della mia passione. Non toglietemi i vermentini liguri! Una scuola professionale alle spalle in viticultura mai sfruttata che però forse un segno me lo ha lasciato.