What does being Italian mean to you, especially when it comes to food? Being Italian is like being part of one big, extended family, and we don’t need an excuse to have a get-together. In Italy, food and family are woven together.
The food is made from fresh ingredients, and it can take all day to prepare that evening’s meal. People then take the time to sit down and really enjoy eating together. My mother, Anna, is now 88 years old, and my childhood summers were spent with my mother’s family in Rome and Camerano, which is near Ancona, on the Adriatic side of Italy.
A love of food seems almost a prerequisite to being Italian. Did you learn this from your mother? Of course, my mother was a great cook when we were growing up in Mission Hills. But when we were in Italy for the summer, it was wonderful to be with my mother’s family and eat the fresh food and vegetables, which were the main staples of lunch and dinner. Buying produce and eggs at the farmer’s home behind my aunt’s summer home by the beach was the opportunity of a lifetime, and those memories stick with me.
In 1981, my mother was one of seven Italian women featured in the Food section of The Star with her recipe for Spaghetti con le Vongole or Spaghetti With Clam Sauce. While some of the women featured in the article have since passed, I still keep up with the families who shared recipes. It’s a small community.
As an obstetrician/gynecologist, you seem to be a nurturer by nature. Is feeding people also a natural extension of nurturing them? I haven’t thought about it that way, but sharing food is important to our family, as it is to so many. There are also great restaurants in Kansas City, with Bella Napoli, Jasper’s Restaurant & Marco Polo’s Italian Market, and Avelluto’s Italian Delight being three of my favorites, if you’re wanting a more authentic Italian food experience. Real Italian food has a freshness and lightness to it.
Why did you choose this recipe to share? This is a classic Italian dessert, which is a freshly cut fruit salad, based on what is in season. The longer you leave it in the refrigerator, the better it gets.
As I was shopping at the grocery store, the peaches and nectarines were in full aroma. That smell brought back the memory of my aunt peeling peaches, nectarines and plums to make a Macedonia. The more ripened the fruit, the shorter it will last, and it is best eaten within a day, but can last up to three days.
When I’m making it for my family or just myself, I serve it in a coffee cup. And, although this will serve four people, I can tell you that one person can eat it over the course of two days.
The juice that forms at the bottom can also be sipped separately, and this is a great way to use up any leftover wine in the refrigerator. This recipe is extremely flexible and can be tailored to what is in season and the fruits you enjoy.
Like any respectable Italian cook, I rarely measure the ingredients when I make it myself. Buon appetito!
Mary G. Pepitone is a freelance writer who lives in Leawood. She also writes a nationally syndicated home column. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org to nominate a cook.
Occupation: Obstetrician and gynecologist
Special cooking interest: Italian dishes
Family: Married for 25 years to Yvonne, with three children: Joseph, 20; Nick and Natalie, 18.
Macedonia di Frutta — Caruso-style
Makes 4 servings
4 ripe peaches or nectarines, peeled, pitted and sliced
8 strawberries, washed, hulled and sliced
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh cherries, pitted and sliced in half, optional
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons sugar
2 bananas, peeled and sliced
For the whipped cream:
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Place peaches (or nectarines), strawberries, blueberries and optional cherries into a large glass bowl with fitted lid. Pour lemon juice and wine over all. Sprinkle with sugar and place lid tightly on bowl. Gently shake ingredients together and cool in refrigerator at least 2 hours.
Right before serving, add bananas and gently stir into fruit bowl.
To make the whipped cream: Place metal mixing bowl and metal whisk into the freezer for about 10 minutes.
Place sugar into mixing bowl and pour in cream. Whisk cream until it reaches the stiff peak stage.
Spoon fruit into individual dishes, pouring liquid evenly over fruit. Top each dish with a dollop of freshly whipped cream and serve immediately.
Please note: This recipe contains alcohol, so be advised before serving to children.
Per serving: 413 calories (49 percent from fat), 23 grams total fat (14 grams saturated), 82 milligrams cholesterol, 50 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams protein, 28 milligrams sodium, 6 grams dietary fiber.