Just when you least expect it, people will come out with the most horrible things. Just as I thought I had found the most gentle loving souls in my flatmates, Blenderman said something that really offended me there the other day.
“You know what? When you first came to this flat, and you said you could cook, I didn’t believe a word of it.”
“Yeah, imagine, some Dutch girl walking in, saying she can cook. I didn’t think it was possible. I thought you meant you could boil potatoes really well, or something.”
Well, thanks a bloody lot for that. I was outraged. In fact, I think you couldn’t have offended me more by saying I’m a terrible person, or I’ve got a horseface, or I’ve got the IQ of a door knob. No, say anything you like about me, but don’t you dare tell me I suck at cooking. It annoyed me, too, because of what I wrote here a few months ago – that Italians believe that being good at cooking is somehow inherent to being Italian. Even the biggest mammona who has never cooked a meal for himself is believed to be more skilled than anyone who isn’t Italian. We foreigners are guilty until proven innocent.
Blenderman made up for it by saying that by now I had totally proved myself, and that he was wrong and that I totally can cook, but it still hurt. So here’s my proof, my way of demonstrating that Italians are not inherently better at cooking than ‘us Northerners’. I will take your classics and cook them, and I will make you enjoy them and laud me and admit that I am just as skilled as your mum. You just wait, Italy. You just wait.
Peperonata, a classic from the south of Italy. Yeah, fine, your mum would undoubtedly do a better job at it than me, but just try mine and try not to be biased. You’ll see.
For a bunch of peperonata (which you can keep for a few days and which each passing day it will be nicer, so don’t worry about making too much), you will need:
- about a kilo of peppers, red and yellow
- 4 red onions
- a couple of cloves of garlic, or if you’re anything like me, make it 4
- a tin of peeled or chopped tomatoes
- enough salt and pepper
- olive oil
Slice your onions in half, then into long-ish strips. Crush your cloves of garlic and slice them up into digestible bits. Heat some oil in a large frying pan, then add the onions and garlic and gently fry them, on low heat. They shouldn’t go brown, only soft.
In the meantime, wash your peppers and slice them up into long strips. Add them to the frying pan. Keep the heat low, and just leave them to simmer with the lid on. This is the whole trick to making peperonata – you leave it on low heat for the longest time. Two hours is not exaggerating it.
After about an hour, add the tomatoes. If you’re using peeled tomatoes, slice or mash them up before you add them. This sounds like a roundabout way of obtaining chopped tomatoes, but I usually do it this way – actual chopped tomatoes aren’t fine enough for my taste, so I get peeled ones and chop them finely myself. Either way, add them to the peppers, add salt, pepper and if you think it’s quite sour, a bit of sugar, and leave it to simmer again. This allows the ingredients to soak up each other’s flavours and become mutually delicious.
Serve with a bunch of bread!