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Chronicles of Parmigiana, steambath edition

Eggplant Parmigiana at the Parma restaurant which specializes

Eggplant Parmigiana at the Parma restaurant which specializes in the local cuisine, Trattoria Del Tribunale in Italy. (Newsday Photo / Peter Gianotti) Credit: Newsday / Peter Gianotti

It's the kind of day when you hope the restaurant special isn't shrimp Parmigiana.

Sticky, uncomfortable, not quite right -- that pretty much sums up a dish that spreads in Nassau and Suffolk like algae. I like shrimp. I like mozzarella. But I don't think they really like each other.

So, I'm daydreaming, thinking about the Parmigiana syndrome. All of which leads me to nibble on a chunk of Parmesan cheese, and think about tasting the cheese as if for the first time this summer.

It didn't happen on Long Island but in Modena, the city of Pavarotti, balsamic vinegar and Osteria Francescana. Starting what would be the most inventive Italian meal I've even eaten was chef Massimo Bottura's meditation on Parmesan cheese. He presented it in five forms: water-gel, wafer, souffle, cream and vapor-foam. Intense and delicate, art and science.

Recalling that almost is enough to make me think, on this dreary day,  that Parmesan cheese might work with shrimp.

But I'll stick with hot peppers instead. Make that shrimp fra diavolo. And keep the Parmesan for the eggplant.

Eggplant Parmesan ... in Parma.

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