Wisteria season!

I’m in love with wisteria and I always have been.  We are having a late spring here in Florence; last year the wisteria had already bloomed and withered by this time.  But this year the vine is just coming into its glory!  Just look!

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The story the pictures don’t tell is that the sky was blue, the breeze was warm, the birds were singing and the sweet scent of wisteria was wafting.

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Flour types for baking in Italy

If you are accustomed to buying flour in the USA, you will encounter some unusual products when you peruse the baking aisle of a grocery store in Italy.  The first thing you might notice is the packages are much smaller than in America.  And then there is the milling process and wheat berry type to consider.

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For one thing, you will have a lot more choices in the grinding of the wheat berry: the names 00 and 0 Flour refer to specifically Italian milled flour that is used for pasta making. You will find that this is also called Doppio Zero, just meaning double zero.

The grading system is 2, 1, 0 or 00 and indicates to how finely ground the flour is and how much of the bran and germ has been removed.  2 for instance is a wholemeal flour while 00 is the most refined of the three and has the lowest level of bran. It is similar to unbleached all purpose/plain flour, which is a mix of hard and soft wheat, and though while finer, it creates a dough that is silkier and maintains a chewiness when the pasta is cooked.

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If you are looking for pasta, bread flour or baking flour, 00 will work for all and you can substitute 00 flour if you run out mid way through pasta making with just plain old high-grade flour. Again this has been refined more so than standard flour making it higher in protein. Pizza dough is perfect with single 0 flour but again it is interchangeable.

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The French grade their flours as well with a similar system.

To make life more confusing the terms hard and soft get used to also explain flours so to try and put it simply:

Low Protein + Low Starch + Low Gluten = soft flour – 00 flour or high grade flouruse this for pasta, pizza and cakes as you would any high grade flour

High Protein +High Starch + High Gluten = hard flour – semolina flour or standard flour perfect for bread doughs and most other uses.

 

Copyright GVMachines Inc. www.gvmachines.com

Italian millers will also combine different wheat varieties to make flour to suit different purposes. So you can buy a ‘00’ flour suitable for pasta with a very golden color, and a ‘00’ flour suitable for plain white bread.

The packaging will usually suggest what items you can make with any particular flour to get the best result.

Much of this post is based upon:  in Bread and conversation, Flour and milling, International bread adventures

For those looking for additional info, here you go:

Bake the same recipe in the same way with 00 flour and with stong white flour and you will see that the 00 loaf is flatter and the crumb has holes that are different sizes and are not evenly distributed.

Bake the same recipe in the same way with 00 flour and with strong white flour that has been stone milled and you will see that the 00 loaf is white white white and the stone ground loaf is a bit beige.

This is because the stone milling mills for whole meal flour first grind and then and seive it to separate the bran and the germ.  Industrially milled flour (of whatever strength) has the bran and the germ milled out at a very early stage because industrial millers want white flour.

The lesson is that if you want the very white, soft, holey bread from your childhood you need to get the flour from your childhood.

The big difference, in addition to texture and look, is that the stone ground white flour is higher in the naturally found nutrients because the white flour absorbs some of the nutrients from the bran and the germ before they are seived off.  Industrially milled flour is rather bereft of these nutrients because the bran and the germ are removed so early in the process.  For a more comprehensive discussion about this, please click here.

How do I love thee, let me count the ways. Elizabeth Barrett Browning and her husband in Florence.


The Casa Guidi, as we see it today, has the same number of rooms and the same plan as it was when the Robert and Elizabeth Barret Browningrented it in 1847. The Brownings lived here happily for many years, and Elizabeth died there in 1861.
The Brownings took two years to furnish the apartment, buying at high cost one or two precious pieces such as the golden mirror of the living room, while most of the paintings and other furniture was found in small Florentine shops.

 

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https://www.visittuscany.com/it/attrazioni/casa-guidi-firenze/

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In restoring the property, the Landmark Trust and Eton College tried to maintain the original atmosphere, preventing the apartment from   looking like a museum.


There are currently some paintings and furniture that belonged to    both the Barrett family and the Browning family and that have been   generously donated to Casa Guidi, but overall the furnishings remain similar to those of the 19th century. The walls and ceilings in the  living room and main bedroom and the ceiling of the poet's studio    have been restored with the original colors of the period. All doors and fireplaces are original.


After the poet's death, the Commune commemorated her life placed an  inscription on the door (composed by Niccolò Tommaseo) according to  which her poetry had created a golden ring that binds Italy and      England.

 

Accesso handicap:
Non accessibile a persone su sedia a ruote

Contatti:
P.zza San Felice, 8
Telefono: 055 354457
E-mail: elena.capolino@fastwebnet.it

When you think of Dante, do you think of Longfellow too?

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807 – 1882) was an American poet and educator whose works include “Paul Revere’s Ride“, The Song of Hiawatha, and Evangeline. He was also the first American to translate Dante Alighieri‘s Divine Comedy.
Longfellow spent several years translating Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. To aid him in perfecting the translation and reviewing proofs, he invited friends to weekly meetings every Wednesday starting in 1864. The “Dante Club”, as it was called, regularly included William Dean Howells, James Russell Lowell, Charles Eliot Norton and other occasional guests. The full 3-volume translation was published in the spring of 1867, though Longfellow would continue to revise it, and went through four printings in its first year.

He was also important as a translator; his translation of Dante became a required possession for those who wanted to be a part of high culture. He also encouraged and supported other translators.

Is Longfellow’s translation of Dante the best?

 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s translation finds a new champion in Joseph Luzzi, in “How to Read Dante in the 21st Century” in the online edition of The American Scholar:

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… one of the few truly successful English translations comes from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, a professor of Italian at Harvard and an acclaimed poet. He produced one of the first complete, and in many respects still the best, English translations of The Divine Comedy in 1867. It did not hurt that Longfellow had also experienced the kind of traumatic loss—the death of his young wife after her dress caught fire—that brought him closer to the melancholy spirit of Dante’s writing, shaped by the lacerating exile from his beloved Florence in 1302. Longfellow succeeded in capturing the original brilliance of Dante’s lines with a close, sometimes awkwardly literal translation that allows the Tuscan to shine through the English, as though this “foreign” veneer were merely a protective layer added over the still-visible source. The critic Walter Benjamin wrote that a great translation calls our attention to a work’s original language even when we don’t speak that foreign tongue. Such extreme faithfulness can make the language of the translation feel unnatural—as though the source were shaping the translation into its own alien image.

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Longfellow’s English indeed comes across as Italianate: in surrendering to the letter and spirit of Dante’s Tuscan, he loses the quirks and perks of his mother tongue. For example, he translates Dante’s beautifully compact Paradiso 2.7

L’acqua ch’io prendo già mai non si corse;

with an equally concise and evocative

The sea I sail has never yet been passed:

Emulating Dante’s talent for internal rhymes laced with hypnotic sonic patterns, Longfellow expertly repeats the s’s to give his line a sinuous, propulsive feel, which is exactly what Dante aims for in his line, as he gestures toward the originality and joy of embarking on the final leg of a divinely sanctioned journey. Thus, Longfellow demonstrates the scholarly chops necessary to convey Dante’s encyclopedic learning, and the poetic talent needed to reproduce the sound and spirit—the respiro, breath—of the original Tuscan.

Read the whole essay here – it’s fairly short and very interesting.

https://bookhaven.stanford.edu/2016/03/is-longfellows-translation-of-dante-the-best-one-writer-makes-the-case/