When Vincenzo isn’t home for lunch and therefore pasta isn’t obligatory I will most likely have one of my solitary lunch favorites – of which there are about 7 – which I eat whilst doing the crossword.
This is one of them.
One eye on the crossword and one on my lunch I spread some tomato paste on a corner of bread before scooping and squashing a little of the creamy burrata on top. I eat and get frustrated at 7 down, 4 letters, clue – Jules Verne’s submarine captain………I spread a little more paste and nudge some more burrata onto the next section of bread…..I remember the answer, captain Nemo, I write it in. And so it goes, clue, bite, clue, bite. Finally I have a third slice of bread – not toasted so as to maintain full soaking capacity – to mop up the creamy oily juices.
For those of you who are not familiar with burrata, it is a speciality from the sturdy heel of Italy, Puglia . It was invented by farmers from the city of Andria in the early 20th century as a way to reclaim unused curds, the scraps, rags and offcuts from the mozzarella making process, it is made in much the same way as mozzarella. Like mozzarella some burrata is made from bufala milk whilst some is made from the milk of razza poldolica cows which graze on fragrant herbs and grasses near Andria and Martina Franca in Puglia.
The stretched curd is made to form a little pouch which is then filled with strings and rags of mozzarella curd mixed with salted cream. The pouches are then knotted before being dipped in brine. Traditionally each burrata was wrapped in bright green lily leaves but today you are more likely to find them wrapped in white plastic with a green plastic leaf attached.
They are both funny and charming little parcels. I really should start giving them as presents…or…no….I mean people should really start giving me them as presents.
Unwrapped they are creamy white, as wrinkled as your finger tips after a long soak in the bath and this wonderful rotund shape with a top knot which reminds me of a sumo wrestler. Burrata are not as firm as mozzarella being filled with much creamy liquid deliciousness, holding one in your hand is a little like negotiating a handful of jelly or a balloon filled with water, handling burrata it isn’t something you can do with a straight face.
No neat slices here, tear the pouch with your fingertips and the creamy contents comes tumbling out, a whoosh as a mass of stringy curds bathed in cream floods your plate. It feels primitive. So does the eating of burrata, it doesn’t really beg delicate civility, you need to spoon, scoop, squash, mop, push the soft flesh of the pouch and the unruly, long, cream soaked curds into somekind of order.
Back to lunch.
The tomato paste by the way was just some of the sun dried tomatoes we bought in Sicily which I stuffed in a jar and then covered with extra virgin olive oil for a month or so. I just tipped the whole contents of the jar – oil and all – in the blender and pulsed a few times for a rough and tumble paste which is also really good for a quick quick supper.
So no recipe but you get the idea I hope.
I finished the crossword by the way and for the first time in ages felt quite content, burrata will do that to you.