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Articles – Pellegrini Foundation http://pellegrinifoundation.org Fri, 09 Dec 2016 15:46:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.6.7 55006699 Food’s grow-your-own movement: Some work required http://pellegrinifoundation.org/foods-grow-your-own-movement-some-work-required/ http://pellegrinifoundation.org/foods-grow-your-own-movement-some-work-required/#respond Sat, 23 Jul 2016 19:52:41 +0000 http://pellegrinifoundation.org/?p=1034 Angelo_PellegriniThe notion that city-dwellers might, could, should grow at least some of their own food has long seemed counter-intuitive. After all, people who live in cities might putter in the garden, but they don’t farm.

Gardening is a pleasant pastime that lets you pick a few flowers or a couple of tomatoes from time to time, but farming is altogether different. Farming is work. Hard, sweaty work. We live in cities, don’t we, so that we can avoid farming. Farming is something other people do, in other parts of the country and faraway parts of the world.

And yet. Even with encroaching development (housing, roads, shopping centers, offices), there are still 1,800 farms in King County, covering 50,000 acres. Many are close-in: Vashon Island, the Kent Valley and along the Green, Snoqualmie and Sammamish rivers. It was 25 years ago that county voters authorized a Farmland Preservation Program that currently protects 13,000 acres of dairies, cattle and horse farms, row crops, flowers, even Christmas trees nurseries.

And there is a growing movement toward not only the protection but also the revival of farming and of the idea of growing enough to provide a good portion of one’s own food. The lack of a green thumb is no deterrent; ignorance of the fundamentals of agriculture is no excuse. Late summer and early fall are a great time for planting — you can put in brussels sprouts plants or sow such seeds as spinach, turnips or cilantro this month, according to Organic Gardening magazine — and there’s help available for city slickers.

Reflecting some of the interest, 21 Acres, a learning center outside Woodinville, will offer three classes under the title “A Local Farm-to-Table Adventure” beginning this Wednesday. Interest was so strong that registration had already closed last week, but the group has set up a waiting list for another possible session. And there are plenty of ways to begin learning: books, videos, magazine articles, to name a few.

Lest we feel smug about the efforts at revival here and the proximity of barns and fields, we should note that there are over four dozen farms within the city limits of our Neighbor to the North, Richmond, British Columbia. Richmond, which is just to the south of Vancouver, is roughly similar in density to Seattle and, although its population of 190,000 is about one third Seattle’s. Richome devotes a third of a magnificent 100-acre city park, Terra Nova, to urban agriculture.

The city also employs environmental educators and restaurant chefs to teach schoolchildren the virtues of growing food. “Those aren’t weeds,” the park director told a group of grade-schoolers harvesting edible wild greens when I visited a couple of years ago, “just another form of money.”

And there is a beacon of hope on Seattle’s Beacon Hill: a new, seven-acre “food forest,” which operates under the umbrella of the Department of Neighborhoods P-Patch program. The same planners had earlier led efforts to establish the Seattle Tilth garden at the Good Shepard Center.

On Vashon Island, we have one embodiment of the genuine, back-to-the-land movement, Kurt Timmermeister. A restaurant owner in Belltown and Capitol Hill (Café Septième) who bought a few acres on the island two decades ago, Timmermeister became a farmer and cheese maker incrementally. His book-length accounts of the process (Growing a Farmer and Growing a Feast) give helpful advice (“don’t go into debt”) without sugarcoating the hard work, from morning chores to evening chores. One of his role models was a 95-year-old dairyman who had spent the first half of his life as a practicing accountant. Timmermeister admired the people he met at farmers markets: youthful if not young, healthy, happy. “I wanted to be like them.” So he sold the restaurant and became a farmer.

Craigslist was a huge help (for used tractor parts, for baby pig “weaners”). Two-day-old chicks came in a box, by mail. When it was time for the chickens to be dispatched, the wings got fed to the pigs, “smart, attentive, aggressive, stubborn and charming.” Before Timmermeister brought himself to the painful business of killing a pig, he took his reader through the agony and the joy of buying a gun. The dairy prospered as Kurtwood Farm, as it’s now known, began to produce a highly regarded, creamy cows milk cheese called Dinah’s.

Timmermeister used to open his kitchen table to a dozen visitors for weekly farmhouse dinners, a multi-course feast produced almost entirely from his own land (less so, lately, especially as production of Dinah’s cheese has taken off). “I want there to be more small farms, more ways to connect to our food, more links to our cultural past of food raising, preparation and preservation,” he writes. So, back to the garden!

The spiritual godfather of the eat-your-own food movement, and not just in Seattle, was Angelo Pellegrini, a Tuscan immigrant boy who grew up in Gray’s Harbor County, on the Washington coast, earned a PhD and became a professor of classics at the University of Washington. Before he died in 1991, he had written a half-dozen books about what comes before the Joy of Cooking: call it the joy of growing. For Pelle, it wasn’t “farming” or “gardening;” what came from the earth was a way of life.

“Grow your own, cook your own, make your own wine,” he implored his readers and followers (who included Alice Waters, Ruth Reichl and Mario Batali). “You must build a garden.” he mandates, “with a pick and shovel, dig up a portion of your lawn.” In growing your own food, “there will be joy in the harvest, and the greatest pleasure in eating the fruit of your labor.”

Pellegrini did just that, at his home in Seattle’s View Ridge neighborhood. You can, too. Even if you live in an apartment building, a flower pot on the window sill can produce edible greens. It’s a start.

By Ronald Holden

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Ruth Reichl on Angelo Pellegrini, a Slow-Food Voice in a Fast-Food Nation http://pellegrinifoundation.org/ruth-reichl-on-angelo-pellegrini-a-slow-food-voice-in-a-fast-food-nation/ http://pellegrinifoundation.org/ruth-reichl-on-angelo-pellegrini-a-slow-food-voice-in-a-fast-food-nation/#respond Sat, 23 Jul 2016 19:46:37 +0000 http://pellegrinifoundation.org/?p=1031 PelleRuthWe asked author and critic Ruth Reichl to share her thoughts on Angelo Pellegrini, for whom the Pellegrini Award is named. When I was in college in the mid-’60s, I spent my spare time in a thrift shop called Treasure Mart, looking for old cookbooks. It was before most Americans had any interest in cooking, so I always left with my arms full.The store kept piles of old magazines by the cash register, and while I was waiting to pay I usually pawed through them. One day, flipping through an ancient issue of Sunset, I was startled to discover a recipe for pesto sauce. I turned to the cover to look at the date: 1946.

This was shocking; even then, in 1966, basil was an incredibly exotic herb. Yet this magazine, which was older than I was, offered instructions for turning it into a green sauce for spaghetti.Years later I would discover that this was the first published pesto recipe in America. But at the time, all I wanted to know was who the strange person who had written the article might be. It turned out to be a man named Angelo Pellegrini, and I wanted to know more about him. I went right back to the bookshelf, unearthed a stained copy of An Unprejudiced Palate—and found that my life had changed.

Pellegrini’s book was not a cookbook in any ordinary sense. It was a manifesto for living the good life. Pellegrini had emigrated from Italy at age 10, but, unlike so many immigrants, he cherished his roots. Although he turned himself into an English professor, in his heart he was a peasant. During the day he taught Shakespeare, but at home he gardened, fished, and cooked in a wood-burning oven. He believed, passionately, that eating well was important. And in the time of TV dinners, Pellegrini’s notions of how to do so were distinctly out of step with the rest of the world’s.

Pellegrini believed in growing your own food, eating with the seasons, using your senses, and taking advantage of the bounty all around you. He ripped out his lawn and put in a garden. He ate nose to tail. He even made his own wine (with grapes supplied by his friend Robert Mondavi). His was a great voice—but it was about 70 years ahead of its time.It was a slow-food voice in a fast-food nation, but it did not go entirely unheard.

Pellegrini’s books—like The Food Lover’s Garden; Lean Years, Happy Years; Wine and the Good Life; and The Unprejudiced Palate—developed a cult following, and had a profound effect on people like Alice Waters, Paula Wolfert, and myself. Pellegrini believed that Americans would be the best cooks in the world if they only paid attention to the abundance all around them. He not only predicted the changes that would come, he helped make them happen.

Seattle Weekly is very wise to honor the memory of this native son by establishing the Pellegrini Award, given annually to someone following in Pellegrini’s very large footsteps. This year’s winner, Chris Curtis, single-handedly started Seattle’s Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance, which encourages everyone to eat the kind of fresh, local food that Pellegrini wanted us all to eat.By all accounts, Angelo Pellegrini was an extremely unpretentious man. Although he was a perennial judge at the Los Angeles County fair, he once told a friend that when it came to wine, he took his grandmother’s advice. “Wink,” she told him, “if you like it.”Wherever Angelo Pellegrini is right now, I’m sure he’s winking.

By Ruth Reichl

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The Unprejudiced Palate: Classic Thoughts on Food and the Good Life http://pellegrinifoundation.org/the-unprejudiced-palate-classic-thoughts-on-food-and-the-good-life/ http://pellegrinifoundation.org/the-unprejudiced-palate-classic-thoughts-on-food-and-the-good-life/#comments Sat, 23 Jul 2016 19:41:33 +0000 http://pellegrinifoundation.org/?p=1027 First issued in 1948, when soulless minute steaks and quick casseroles were becoming the norm, The Unprejudiced Palate inspired a seismic culinary shift in how America eats. Written by a food-loving immigrant from Tuscany, this memoir-cum-cookbook Unprejudicedarticulates the Italian American vision of the good life: a backyard garden, a well-cooked meal shared with family and friends, and a passion for ingredients and cooking that nourish the body and the soul.

Although he wrote it nearly 60 years ago, Pellegrini’s treatise on food and life reads like a contemporary paean to the Italian culinary ideal. It is no surprise that the editor of this series of classic food writings chose Mario Batali to write a new introduction to Pellegrini, for the two share a nearly identical philosophy. Pellegrini immigrated to the U.S. from Italy and became a professor of English. At his Seattle home, he cultivated a garden and spread a gospel of simple, fresh cooking that wowed his academic colleagues. Disdaining the pretensions of the midcentury movement for processed, flavorless foods, Pellegrini was a lonely voice for using game, fresh herbs, home-canned tomatoes, and garden vegetables to create simple sauces for pasta. He relished the organ meats that repelled so many others, but he could not cook without his beloved imported Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. In his writings, he recorded recipes, but these are more general techniques than rosters of precisely measured ingredients. Those unfamiliar with Pellegrini will be astounded at his prescience. Mark Knoblauch

“I have always thought that Angelo Pellegrini misnamed his charming but opinionated book.  It should have been called the Prejudiced Palate because he is so absolutely sure and unwavering in his vision of how to live a beautiful and delicious life. And I think he’s right.”
Alice Waters, Owner, Chez Panisse

“Like great dishes, great writing remains in our memory forever. Angelo
Pellegrini’s THE UNPREJUDICED PALATE is a lesson in how to enjoy life
in an elegant and highly civilized way.”
Jacques Pépin

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Pellegrini Foundation: Celebrating the legend of an American buongustaio http://pellegrinifoundation.org/pellegrini-foundation-celebrating-the-legend-of-an-american-buongustaio/ http://pellegrinifoundation.org/pellegrini-foundation-celebrating-the-legend-of-an-american-buongustaio/#respond Thu, 17 Mar 2016 22:11:21 +0000 http://pellegrinifoundation.org/?p=1020 The list of honorees reads like a who’s who among Seattle’s culinary elite: Armandino Batali of Salumi; food marketer Jon Rowley; Frank Isernio, founder of Isernio’s Sausage; restaurateur Tom Douglas and his wife Jackie Cross; and most recently, Charles and Rose Ann Finkel, legendary brewmeisters and founders of Pike Brewing Company.
These are just a few of the past winners of the Angelo M. Pellegrini Award, begun in 2006 to honor Seattle’s culinary legend, who died in 1991 at the age of 88. The award is given to an individual or couple each year who has made significant contributions in one of four fields: agriculture, viticulture, culinary arts or literature.
Angelo Pellegrini, shown here circa 1985, celebrated good food, wine and the culture of the table. To ensure his legacy, friends and family created the Pellegrini Foundation which focuses on awareness and education in four fields: agriculture, viticulture

Angelo Pellegrini, shown here circa 1985, celebrated good food, wine and the culture of the table. To ensure his legacy, friends and family created the Pellegrini Foundation which focuses on awareness and education in four fields: agriculture, viticulture

The recognition, impressive as it is, is just the tip of the iceberg. The real excitement comes at the lavish awards dinner prepared each fall by a rotating group of top chefs. Guests are treated to platters of delectable dishes, from smoked ham hocks to rosemary salt-cured beef tongue, from smoked sablefish to spit-roasted rabbit, the recipes inspired by Pellegrini’s books. With such an amazing line-up of dishes, it’s no wonder that tickets to the $150-a-plate dinner sell out in just days.

The award is administered by the nonprofit Pellegrini Foundation, established to increase awareness of Angelo Pellegrini’s prodigious role in preserving traditional values and celebrating the good things in life: fine food, wine and community. “The dinner recalls the spirit of Angelo,” said Frank Isernio, the 2013 Pellegrini Award winner. “It’s about sharing the table with friends and family, food being the tie that binds us together.”
Known as Pelle to his friends, Pellegrini was proof that a lifetime of hard work, a healthy modest lifestyle, and a passion for family and communal celebrations can lead to amazing achievements. Born in 1903 in a village near Florence, Italy, Pellegrini arrived in the United States at the age of 10 with his mother and sisters. The family made their way to McCleary, Wash., just west of Olympia, to join his father who had settled there earlier. Unable to speak English, he was put into the first grade but he worked hard to catch up, studying long into the night.
Angelo Pellegini believed in growing your own food, making your own wine and eating with the seasons. His bountiful home garden was so lush that it was once photographed over the course of a year by Sunset Magazine. (Pellegrini Foundation)

Angelo Pellegini believed in growing your own food, making your own wine and eating with the seasons. His bountiful home garden was so lush that it was once photographed over the course of a year by Sunset Magazine. (Pellegrini Foundation)

Pellegrini excelled at school and went on to enroll at the University of Washington as a history major. He earned undergraduate and graduate degrees, with honors, and finished two years of law school before being hired by Whitman College as an English teacher. Years later, he returned to the UW as a professor of English and earned his doctoral degree. He was a spellbinding lecturer and became one of the most popular teachers on campus.
Despite his extraordinary academic career, Pellegrini was more renowned for his garden, kitchen and wine cellar. He made dough from scratch and baked bread in an outdoor oven he built himself. He gathered his own mushrooms in the forests, and grew all kinds of organic vegetables in a home garden so lush that Sunset Magazine once assigned a photographer to capture it on film over the course of a year.
In 1946, Sunset published Pellegrini’s recipe for pesto, reputed to be the first pesto recipe ever published in the United States. His first book, “The Unprejudiced Palate,” published two years later, is hailed today as a classic. Nine more books followed, including “Americans by Choice,” “Wine and the Good Life,” “The Food-Lover’s Garden” and “American Dream: An Immigrant’s Quest.”
On the surface, his books are about food and culture, but they delve deeper into questions that were close to his heart: what does it mean to be Italian, how do we maintain connections with others, what is a life well-lived?
Over the years, Pellegrini made friends from all walks of life. The writer Henry Miller was a fan, as were chef Alice Waters and food writer Paula Wolfert. The Mondavi family sent him a ton of grapes each fall which he turned into wine, giving most of it away.
Isernio met Pellegrini at a dinner years ago when Pellegrini was a keynote speaker. “He could really captivate a crowd,” recalled Isernio. “I introduced myself at the event, and after some conversation, Pelle invited me to his house to have dinner with his family. ‘I’m going to cook for you,’ he said. And he did. It was peasant food, but it was real cuisine. That started the beginning of a long friendship.”
As America embraced fast food, Pellegrini moved in the opposite direction, promoting local healthy ingredients, picked and eaten at their peak, simple and uncomplicated.  “Today, everyone has heard about the slow food movement,” said Isernio, “but Angelo was espousing slow food 40 years ago. He had an unbridled passion for food.”
Food author and critic Ruth Reichl agreed, calling Pellegrini a slow-food voice in a fast-food nation. “Pellegrini believed that Americans would be the best cooks in the world if they only paid attention to the abundance all around them,” wrote Reichl. “He not only predicted the changes that would come, he helped make them happen.”
Article thanks to Rita Cipalla, L’Italo-Americano
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The Pellegrini Bean http://pellegrinifoundation.org/the-pellegrini-bean/ http://pellegrinifoundation.org/the-pellegrini-bean/#respond Thu, 03 Mar 2016 18:59:39 +0000 http://pellegrinifoundation.org/?p=987 Back in the early days of the Herbfarm Restaurant, a distinguished group of diners came to lunch. In that party were chefs Paul Bertolli, Alice Waters, and Professor Angelo Pellegrini, a noted culinary expert. Boy, were we scared!

At the end of the afternoon, “Pelle,” as he was called, said that we did “pretty good” with the 6-course meal. Evidently this was “pretty good” praise for the then nearly ninety culinary legends because Alice Waters remembers it as a “perfect day.”

Pellegrini had come to America as a poor Italian child of ten. Unable to speak English, he studied hard at night and was soon skipping grades and winning spelling bees. He was the first in his family to attend college, studied law, and later got his PhD, becoming a beloved Professor of English at the University of Washington and a culinary writer of renown.

In the 1950’s, the winemaker Robert Mondavi gave Pellegrini a handful of family beans from the old country. “Monachine,” as he called them, meant “Little Nuns.” Pellegrini turned his entire property into an edible landscape, even tearing out the lawn. The Monachine went into his garden, and for over 50 years he faithfully grew the bean. So good were they, that it is said that he’d savor every bean one by one, mashing each with a fork and dabbing it in a whiff of olive oil.

Pelle went to that Great Garden in the Sky in 1991. Then some years ago, Angelo’s son, Brent, gave us about 10 of the beans. Over the years, our farmer, Bill Vingelen, has scaled the bean harvest up each year so that we can finally serve them occasionally in the restaurant. In 2012, he planted 64 tepees of Pellegrini Beans numbering around 1000 plants, and finally have enough to feature them on the menu.

The Pellegrini Bean is among the finest stringless fresh bean we have ever tried. And the dried autumn beans are incomparable.

Because the Pellegrini Bean seed has been saved year after year in Seattle’s climate, it has become perfectly adapted to the conditions of the Pacific Northwest.

Thanks to [http://theherbfarm.com/Items/Pellegrini_Bean]

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Props to Pelle http://pellegrinifoundation.org/props-to-pelle/ http://pellegrinifoundation.org/props-to-pelle/#respond Wed, 27 Aug 2014 15:47:19 +0000 http://pellegrinifoundation.org/?p=979 Pelle preps his garden. Photo © Bob Peterson

Pelle preps his garden. Photo © Bob Peterson

Crosscut.com’s food writer Ronald Holden tells his readers that fall’s the time to build that garden of their dreams. He ends his tribute to local proponents of home gardens including Vashon Island farmer-cheesemaker Kurt Timmermeister with a shout-out to Our Founder Angelo Pellegrini: Read all about it here.

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