I explained to a friend recently that what I connected with the most as Chef Bottura spoke was the thought of his grandmother. I imagined her slightly bent over a wooden work bench, a light dust of flour in the creases of her hands. I could see her as the sheets of pasta became exquisite origami; every fold completed with energy and love that poured forth into the forms she learned to make from her mother, and her mother learned from hers. A vessel that carried parts of the past, she fed her family by way of the old. In my mind, she is an artist just as much, if not more, as he is.
Anything antique or "old fashioned" makes my ears perk up; I have fantasies of finding one of those old metal egg poaching pans at a thrift shop. I find so much fulfillment in the exchange of family histories and stories about so-and-so's second cousin twice removed who did this or old Mr. Such-and-Such down the road who's actually distantly related.
Afghans, egg creams, cast iron, crotchet, bone china, cardigans, quilts, checkers, cards, soup, everything from scratch, save your bacon grease, hand written cards in cursive, pull out the old photo album...these are a few of my favorite things.
And every Nana needs a good banana bread recipe. Even if you're just an aspiring one.
Makes 1 - 9 x 5" loaf cake
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 oz, 113 g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (198 g) brown sugar
2 large egg, room temperature
5-6 (2 cups, 16 oz, 454 g) mashed bananas
2 1/2 cups (9 3/8 oz, 265 g) pastry flour
1 tsp (5 g) baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Place a baking rack in the center of a conventional oven and preheat it to 350 F. Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan and set aside.
Cream the softened butter in the bowl of stand mixer for 3 minutes. Add the brown sugar and continue to beat for 2 more minutes. Next, add the eggs, one at a time. Scrape the mixture down and then mix in the mashed bananas.
In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Slowly add them to the wet ingredients. Scrape the bowl with a spatula to make sure the mixture is evenly combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 45-50 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the bread cool for about 15 minutes in the pan then turn it out and let it finish cooling on a rack.