Elisa, the woman from Benevento who gave me the recipes for pickled eggplant that appear, is my mother’s cleaning woman. When she arrives for work, the mutual good mornings are followed by a ritual exchange. I ask Elisa what she cooked the previous evening and, exultingly, she recites the specialties she prepared for her Giuseppe, trumpeting the names as though she were a general asked to cite the battles won.
Occasionally, a dish is new to me. One morning, to the usual question, Elisa exclaimed, “Patate maritate!” “Married potatoes? Married to whom?” I asked, not without the feeling that I was being led into a trap. But Elisa was serious: “Married to mozzarella, signora!”
Explanations followed, and so did the making of the dish. Sliced raw potatoes are layered in a pan with mozzarella and a mixture of Parmesan, garlic, and parsley, and they are baked for about 1 hour. There is nothing more to it than that, except that if you have available imported buffalo-milk mozzarella, use it. It will make a much happier marriage for the potatoes.
© 1986 Marcella Hazan estate. All rights reserved.