Sunday, July 01, 2007

Squid and Squash (Blossoms)

Friday 29 June

Barbara planted a bunch of monstrous-looking yellow squash and zucchini plants in the garden this spring, all for the sake of (eventual) squash blossoms. Actual squash is only a side benefit, a result of her letting a few get away and develop beyond the point where you can batter-fry the tiny little things. After all, you can buy squash anywhere, but squash blossoms are rare, precious, and also delicious.

I came up with this batter one summer in Rome, when Barbara was away on a dig. I had no recipe but I tried to duplicate what we had had together in various restaurants, especially those in the Jewish Ghetto of Rome. So separate an egg (for this big batch of stuff, three). Whisk up the white until foamy. They don't have to be stiff, like for a soufflé or anything. Then whisk enough flour into the yolks to make a stiffish paste. Fold the whites in to the yolk paste. Add a pinch of salt e eccolo!

I delicately opened the flower petals with my fingers, spread the blossoms wide, and gently slid in a sliver of mozzarella mated with a fragment of anchovy. Stroked and twisted each flower closed, the green veins making gothic tracery on the orange leaves Each swollen pod, full to bursting, dipped in the batter . . . OK, Mr. Obvious Man will stop now.

We used the old electric skillet, better known as the chicken pan for its role in making fried chicken (which we never do). But we needed more protein, so after the squash blossoms were done and keeping hot in the toaster-oven, a handful of squid rings went into the remaining batter and were soundly fried.

Served squid on one side of the plate, squash blossoms on the other, with a wedge of lemon in the middle. All we needed was the Adriatic - or at least the Tiber.

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