It has always intrigued me to note that of all the cuisines of the world the Italian has far less in common with those of its Latin neighbors Spain and France than it does with that of China. Both Italy and China make pasta, for example, to cite one of the most obvious parallels. But their culinary paths draw close in so many other ways: in their direct handling of ingredients, in the many quick-cooked dishes, in the integration of vegetables with meat or fish, in pairing sweet with sour.
When I first saw strips of pork with broccoli stems and carrots cut into thin sticks in this dish I wondered who the Chinese cook was in the kitchen. But it was the kitchen of my mother’s house in Cesenatico and there was no one there but my mother’s devoted companion Romana, the woman from Bari who looked after her during the last years of her long life. When I told Romana what my impression had been she didn’t know what to make of it. “Ma va! Go on! Do the Chinese really eat pork and anchovies?” I couldn’t say. Do they, I wonder?
© 1997 Marcella Hazan estate. All rights reserved.