When was the last time you heard a word that totally zapped you, amazed you with its lovely pronunciation and brought about varied images, even though you’d heard it for the first time and didn’t know what it meant?
Pinzimonio. Lovely blue waters with fishes swimming just below the surface.
Pinzimonio. Little boy hopping alongside his sheep on a snow-covered mountain-side.
Pinzimonio. Wrinkled old lady working on a half-done multi-coloured sweater (imagine BW frame of the same!).
Pinzimonio. Nostalgia-inducing cartoons from childhood (Jungle Book in Hindi in my case).
Pinzimonio. Grandma cooking your favourite dish during your summer holiday as a little you tug at her saree and say: “Paati, how long will it take?”
Think of whatever evokes comforting warmth.
Now switch to the little quiz I’ve prepared. You’re allowed to meditate on pinzimonio as you take the test. It might just give you clues to the answers!)
What is Antipasto? (No Googling allowed!)
How different is it from Antipasti? (Hello dear! Searching on Wikipedia is cheating!)
What’s Hors d’oeuvre? (You incorrigible cheat! Why don’t you just read on for answers?)
Since you’ve absolutely flunked the test, here goes:
Antipasto is traditionally the first course served at the table during an Italian meal.
Antipasti is plural of the same word, popularised in theUS.
Hors d’oeuvre (French) is starters too, but not necessarily served at the table. Typically, the kind of stuff waiters move around with on a loaded plate at parties.
There! I’ve educated you on the nuances of Italian non-main course items. Pinzimonio, an exceedingly simple-to-prepare, yet, wonderfully-healthy and tasty Italian dish, is usually served as an antipasto.
Pinzimonio is nothing but fresh raw vegetables served with extra virgin olive oil spiced with a little salt and freshly-ground pepper plus a dash of vinegar and/or lime juice.
After two days of attacking food with gusto at my nephew’s sacred thread ceremony AND bunking yoga for nearly a week thanks to early morning blues, I finally managed to pull myself out of bed (rather Ram managed to pull me out of bed!) not in time for yoga class, but at least in time to manage a good walk along the Beasant Avenue Road – it leads up to the beach in Beasant Nagar (Chennai) that’s called Elliots Beach and a good stretch of the road is flanked on one side by the premises of the Theosophical society with lots of trees from inside the compound and the general proximity to the beach guaranteeing lovely breeze and a drop in temperature as soon as you get into this stretch at anytime of the day and especially so early in the mornings – then along the beach and by another route back home. (Phew! That was quite a long sentence, wasn’t it?).
A narrow lane off the Beasant Avenue Road, called the 4th Avenue Road, is sandwiched between The School KFI on one side and theOlcottMemorialSchool on the other. This lane broadens out to justify being called an ‘avenue’ after a few hundred metres or so and is a morning walkers’ paradise.
We took this lane on the way back and had a tough time stifling laughter with oversized aunties squeezed into track suits two sizes smaller bending over, trying to touch their toes and a fit-as-a-fiddle uncle running up and down the flailing his arms up and down as he did so even as I paused (I left no opportunity to try to catch a few breaths between my huffing and puffing!) to wave goodbye to little kids sitting behind their daddy on a scooter on their way to school.
What a lovely walk it was this morning! So as not to get off the ‘health’ trip I was indulging in after almost a week today, I decided to try the Pinzimonio. I’d seen a chef rustle up this stuff at some outdoor picnic and mumbling over his stuffed mouth – who wouldn’t with all that charming goodness in a bowl in his hand! – on a TV show a few days ago and thought it might be an easy peasy (phrase lifted from my favourite The Pioneer Woman Cooks website…Google it out) dish to make on a day when I wanted goodness without any effort, yet something that sounded exotic enough to brag about (So there! I’ve confessed!).
And gorgeous was it! Although I have used olive oil a few times before, I’m not particularly comfortable with the idea of using oil in salads, something I eat to offset my lavish cravings and subsequent indulgences. But today, I used the quantity of oil prescribed and in the right manner and I realised why it is such a popular additive to raw food. You must try it out too to figure out why.
Fresh raw vegetables of your choice – cut into long strips (I used cucumber, carrot, red and yellow bell peppers and radish)
Olive oil – 1-2 tbsp
Fresh pounded black pepper – a healthy pinch (I used a mix of dry green and black pepper)
Salt – a healthier pinch
Vinegar and/or Lime juice – a dash of it (optional)
Place your sliced veggies on a plate of flat bowl
Pour oil into a small bowl and add all other spices and additions
Dip sliced veggies into the spiced oil and relish
Note: You can add a bit of mustard paste and dried herbs if you wish