Saturday, April 11, 2015

Frocia

I used to hate asparagus, just on principle.  I think it was the color and texture, because I had the same issues with lentils, which I'm still not wild about.  Asparagus was sort of a weird shade of green and a little on the slimy side, and it wasn't until I was a mature and responsible adult that I learned to appreciate the wonders of an asparagus frocia.

(Pronounced:  FRO-dja.)

I had a hell of a time figuring out how to spell this word.  Many American-Sicilian words are only dimly related to the Italian, and the pronunciation has had over a hundred years of isolation to get mangled.  I didn't even know it EXISTED until I used the word "frittata" (Italian, not Sicilian, thanks to my napoletan husband) in front of my cousin, Vita (Sicilian, not Italian).

Vita remembers her Aunt Mary Rose's kitchen.  I remember my grandmother's kitchen, too, but there was a difference.  Aunt Mary Rose spoke Sicilian in her kitchen.  My grandparents only spoke Sicilian in their kitchen when:
  1. They were on the phone (which was on the wall in the kitchen, and was yellow to match the decor) with other Sicilians;
  2. They were discussing delicate matters, unsuitable for the ears of the kids in the room.  These matters usually involved (I think) unwanted pregnancies, the incarceration of a family member, or an issue related to the guns we kept behind the wall in the attic, hidden by a dresser;
  3. My grandparents were using profanity.  Sometimes at each other, and then my grandmother would yell, "The windows are open!" which quieted things down because heaven forbid the non-Sicilian neighbors should think we were barbarians, not that they had the slightest possibility of understanding anything we were yelling about.
(For the record, Sicilian profanity is not the same as American profanity.  American profanity uses specific words, inherited from Anglo-Saxon ancestors.  Sicilian profanity uses colorful and unflattering references to God and the Blessed Virgin.  It's much worse.)

At any rate, Vita corrected me and I found the word on the Internet.  A frocia is basically a Sicilian omelette.  The big difference between an omelette and a frocia is that Sicilians cook the living daylights out of the thing.  So they're not fluffy and yellow as much as crunchy and brown.  In my grandparent's house, frocie came in three varieties:  with potatoes, with peppers, or with asparagus.

Since it's springtime and asparagus is in season, and it was $1.25 at Mariano's last week, I'm going to give you the recipe for the asparagus frocia.  My grandmother called it "the asparagus-and-eggs", because she couldn't think of anything else to call it in English (she also called lasagna "the baked spaghetti", go figure).

Asparagus Frocia
Buy a bundle of fresh asparagus.  They should be a little on the thin side, because they'll cook easier than the thick asparagus.  Turn on your oven to 350 degrees.  Wash the asparagus and break off the ends.  My grandmother use to peel it. Lord knows why, so don't.  Take a BIG cast iron (this is important!) frying pan and heat up about 4 to 6 tablespoons of olive oil, over medium heat  Dry off the asparagus (or it will splatter all over the place) and put it in the pan.  Fry the asparagus (you want to move it around a lot with your spoon or spatula) until it's browned and soft.  Put some salt and pepper on it.  Now, crack 6 eggs over the asparagus (anywhere, make a sign of the cross or something), break the yolks, and let it all cook over medium heat until the bottom is set and a little brown.  Now pick up your cast iron pan (if you didn't use cast iron, don't do this!) and put it in the oven until the top of the frocia doesn't wiggle any more.

You can use the EXACT recipe with potatoes or peppers instead of the asparagus.  Frocia is good hot, for supper, or cold, for lunch or snacks.  If you eat it cold, you can put it on some Italian bread for a sandwich.

If you want to lose a million zillion pounds, eat a lot of frocia.  Trust me.


4 comments:

  1. I didn't get the Sicilian vs Italian dichotomy :-) I love asparagus and lentils: when you come and visit me I will make you love lentils. In the meantime, fancy to try a recipe? I'm not at Coachella (sadly), I'm just following it live to get some relaxed Californian vibes. Tons of love my friend!!!

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  2. Ps. The same weird feeling you have towards asparagus, I have towards mushrooms (slushy). Baci

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  3. loved your recipe! will try it soon!
    kisses dear

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