What I didn’t mention in the last post … the one that had me worried about the main course for supper after lounging about for too long at the beach … was that, in my haste to actually get to the beach, I only had time to rustle up a ‘sandwich’ for lunch once we got there.
‘Rosetta’ means ‘little rose’ in Italian and is the name given to a bread roll that looks rather like the thorny bloom and that used to be a very popular item in every single bakery all over Rome and Lazio. I say ‘used to be’ because apparently people are eating less and less of the old-fashioned rosetta for reasons which include a dearth of bakers in the city! To be honest, the rosetta is not my favourite bread … it is all white flour and its pleasant crispiness didn’t last for very long. A fresh rosetta bought in the morning became very chewy-rubbery by supper time.
Having said that, however, the rosetta was just the best for any kind of ‘sandwich’ …. a fresh rosetta with parma ham or salami or mortadella was the business if you were hungry enough to eat something substantial before lunch. Its shape is simply made for containing, much better than two slices of bread.
So much for the rosetta.
Now, ‘panzanella’ is a dish born of thrifty genius for hot and sultry summer months and is made up of stale bread soaked in water with a dash of vinegar to it and slices of tomatoes, cucumber and onion. A glug of olive oil, plenty of basil leaves and salt and pepper. That’s it – simple and delicious. There are variations to a panzanella but the above are the classic ingredients.
For our picnic lunch at the beach, I stuffed the rosetta with slices of tomato and mozzarella, added basil and olive oil, and some salt. By the time we got to eat it, a good two hours later, the bread had moistened and gone ‘soft’ with the tomato juice and the oil … and it dawned on me that it tasted very much like a panzanella … only that it was ‘portable’ and did not require a fork. Our mouths got quite oily and it was even a bit ‘messy’ to eat …. mmmmm, slurp … there is something so atavistically satisfying about ‘portable’ food!
And then, when it is unwrapped, and if you are feeling very hungry, it is truly a joy to bite into: