Little more than ten miles southwest of Bologna, a group of hills, covered with vines and cherry trees, forms a territory known as Monte San Pietro. My husband escorts our classes there for a visit to a wine estate. After the visit, we all meet for dinner in a trattoria in the nearby hamlet of Stiore. Known as Perla, the trattoria is restaurant, billiard parlor, grappa bar all at the same time, a gathering place for the local farmhands, other workers, and sometimes their employers. Four old men on mandolins and guitars play polkas, waltzes, tangos. Perla is run by a family of three, each performing a vital function: The mother cooks; Perla, the daughter, waits on table; the father plays cards and drinks with the customers.
Stiore is so small it is not on any map, but the people, the music, the food -have registered it securely in the memories of hundreds of my students. One of the dishes that many of them have asked the recipe for is Perla’s mother’s potatoes, pan-fried in lard with garlic and rosemary. What makes them memorable is a thin, crackling crust that encloses a tender, almost creamy center. It is not at all difficult to do, as you will find from the instructions in this recipe.
© 1986 Marcella Hazan estate. All rights reserved.