When, many years ago and newly arrived in America, I was asked at the table of friends if I’d like some Italian garlic bread, I thought, as I accepted, how nice that they know about bruschetta. After a while, a warm bundle in a napkin was brought to the table and unwrapped to disclose a steaming loaf of bread, split in two, its redolently garlicky inside drenched in butter. I rethought, no, they don’t know about bruschetta.
Garlic bread in Italy, bruschetta, is never made with butter but with fruity extra virgin olive oil. It isn’t heated in an oven: It is sliced, crusty bread that is grilled—preferably, if possible, over charcoal. It must be crisp, never steamy. The garlic is rubbed lightly over the hot bread after it is removed from the grill. Then it is drizzled with olive oil and is deliciously complete.
This version goes one step further, featuring tiny cubes of ripe, firm, fresh tomatoes and the added fragrance of basil or oregano.
As an appetizer, when making a barbecue; as part of a buffet; if cut into bite-size squares, with drinks before dinner. It would be inappropriate at table for a formal sit-down meal.
© 1986 Marcella Hazan estate. All rights reserved.