Sicilian Recipe: Penne with Eggplant and Swordfish

In this recipe, one of the most prized fish in Sicily is paired with the most typical vegetable of the island cuisine, creating an intriguing, delicate dish.

FOOD HISTORY

Although swordfish is often caught using modern fishing systems, in the Straight of Messina, or rather, in the corridor between Sicily and the rest of Italy, swordfish is still caught with a harpoon. This method has been used for more than 2,000 years and truly a sight to see. Unchanged during the centuries, the technique of harpooning is more of hunt, with its secrets and rites. Harpooning takes place off of special motorboats: twenty-feet-long feluccas, equipped with motors allowing the boats to move quickly. The boats have a long 65 to 130 ft plank reaching out from the bow and an enormous 100 ft mast. These are perfect hunting boats: once the swordfish is spotted, it has no chance of escaping.

High on top of the tall mast, there is equipment used to guide the boat, including a seat for the helmsman, who must have great courage and particularly good vision. The helmsman must spend the entire day looking for swordfish and, once the target is in sight, he has to both warn the rest of the crew and guide the boat near to the fish. Once the helmsman gets the boat close enough, the “u lanzaturi” are put into action. Positioned at the very end of the plank, the fishermen launch the harpoons with extreme violence in order to capture the swordfish.

Step 1
Cut the swordfish into cubes.

Step 2
Carefully wash the eggplants, peel them and cut into large regular cubes, coat in flour and fry in abundant hot oil.

Step 3
As soon as they are golden, remove them from the oil using a skimmer, dry them on absorbent paper and allow to cool.

Step 4
In a large pan, brown a chopped clove of garlic in the oil, add the swordfish, and season with salt. Brown over high heat, pour the white wine over it and allow to evaporate.

Step 5
Add the tomatoes, a pinch of black pepper and leave to cook for a few minutes.

Step 6
Cook the pasta in abundant boiling salted water.

Step 7
Add the eggplants to the swordfish and tomatoes, and sprinkle with chopped parsley. Cook for another two minutes, adding, if necessary, some fish stock.

Step 8
When the pasta is “al dente”, drain it and add to the sauce. Toss together and finish off with the salted ricotta and a decoration of small mint leaves.

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Crusading for Better Olive Oil Standards

Here’s a fine little article from The Washing Post’s Lifestyle section about the crusade to improve olive oil categorizing. As major olive oil producers, we at Mamamiafoods can attest to how frustrating it is that garbage oils are being labeled as high quality oils and that consumers don’t know they’re being bamboozled. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that the variety of acclaimed health benefits of olive oil, and there are SO MANY, are predicated on the substance actually being high quality olive oil and not some blend of oils or some cheap, over-exposed oils or whatnot.

Anywhere, here is an excerpt of the story. The story itself is just two pages and worth reading:

It has been about 30 years since many Americans began giving up their lard and Crisco for more-healthful extra-virgin oil. But that extra-virgin label has proved a poor guide to choosing the highest-quality oils. According to a recent study by the UC Davis Olive Center, 73 percent of the top five brands of imported extra-virgin olive oil failed to meet accepted international standards for extra-virgin. Moreover, a separate report revealed that 44 percent of consumers actually preferred rancid or fusty oil, a possible result of the prevalence of substandard extra-virgins available to American consumers.

Our high-quality olive oils meet or exceed THE HIGHEST testing standards and we have all the certifications to prove it.

More on Deceptive Practices in the Food Industry

If it seems like we here at Mamamiafoods are on a crusade against the scam artists who plague the global food markets, there’s a good reason for that: we are. When you’re a producer of high quality, authentic products, it’s hard not to take it personally when corner-cutters and deceivers play on consumer ignorance and ride the coattails of your industriousness and dedication. Let me give you an example.

We produce 9000 units per hour.

Mamamiafoods recently partnered with the largest blood orange juice manufacturer in Italy. As part of our business strategy, we’ve made educating consumers about the health benefits of blood orange juice and also not-from-concentrate juice a priority. As part of this strategy, we’ve been doing research and compiling references and data and such. Well today this webpage caught my eye when it was returned via a google search for a study on the subject: Understanding Concentrate Juice. Let me draw your attention to the section titled Nutritional Values:

When compared to not-from-concentrate juices, the actual concentrated forms of similar fruit juices provide equal nutritional content. However, much like dried fruit, one serving size of non diluted concentrate juice compared to an equal serving size of not from concentrate juice will greatly differ in nutritional content.

When fresh fruit gets dried, it loses all of its natural water content, shrinking in size. This process works identical in fruit juices as well. The natural state of freshly squeezed fruit juice contains far more water weight volume than that of a concentrated comparison. Consequently, one cup of non diluted concentrate juice will contain purely sugars and nutrients found within the fruit, while the same serving size of bottled juice varieties will contain only a fraction of those same nutrients.

If this reads to you like an attempt to make concentrated juice out to be equal to or greater in nutritional content to not-from-concentrate juice, know that that is the intent. This is shameful in that it’s designed to prey on ignorance. Of course undiluted, concentrated juice is more nutritious: you’re talking about a thick, molassesy (is that a word?) syrup. Consumers don’t drink undiluted concentrate! Rather, if you buy a non-freshly-squeezed juice from the store, it’s “FROM CONCENTRATE” meaning it has been diluted back down with water (and additives and preservatives, but that’s a different discussion)! The point being there’s no such thing as a “serving size” of concentrate because that’s not how it’s sold, so what possible reason would there be to compare equal quantities of the two items? Well, trickery. This is just one sneaky trick among many that food producers use against unwitting consumers. “Lies, damned lies, and statistics…”

Think you know what Italy’s top export is?

I bet you don’t. If you said “pasta”, “olive oil”, or “wine”, you’re wrong. According to Investopedia, Italy’s top export is kiwis!

Wait, you’re thinking. Doesn’t New Zealand export most of the world’s kiwis? No, actually they don’t. Italy exports almost 410 million tons of kiwis each year, surpassing New Zealand’s total kiwi exports annually of about 360 million tons.

Is this what comes to mind when you think of Italy?

The article at sfgate.com goes on to list several other surprising top exports. Have a look.

Sicilian Recipe of the Week: Pistacchio Cake

Australia sets new Olive Oil Labeling Standards

At Mamamiafoods, we labels our products properly.

The standards, which came into affect last week, remove some of the confusing terms such as ‘light’ and ‘premium’, and require producers to clearly label whether their oil is fresh or refined.

President of the Australian Olive Association, Paul Miller, says the old labeling system didn’t allow consumers to easily distinguish between different grades of olive oil. ‘It’s causing confusion amongst consumers and that’s actually damaging the market,’ he said. ‘We think consumers should have the choice between extra virgin which is the premium product and then a second grade product which is still a type of olive oil but has been through a refinery and is a lower grade.’

The new standards will be voluntary, but CEO of Standards Australia Colin Blair doesn’t think this will discourage their adoption by producers. ‘With a lot of these things you get back to false and misleading claims and that’s where the ACCC would come in,’ he said. Paul Miller agrees that the standards provide clear guidelines for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to judge whether products are correctly labelled.

Audio
Listen to: Olive Oil
In this report: Paul Miller, president of the Australian Olive Association; Colin Blair, CEO of Standards Australia

Italy’s Food Exports Rose 11% in the 1st Quarter of 2011

This is impressive given how strong the Euro has been and how that affects exports:

Rome – Sergio Marini, President of the Coldiretti, during the annual general meeting with 15,000 participating farmers from all over Italy, affirmed that in 2011 Italy has exported more food and wine than cars, motorcycles and other vehicles. The Italian agricultural and food sector confirms to be the leading export sector: exports have increased 11% in Q1.

Mamamiafoods is proud to be pushing those exports higher!