Basilicata Cultural Club meets
Newfoundland and Labrador

TORONTO – One of Italy’s well-known dishes is the Rigatoni alla Bolognese. We know this because the editor in chief of the Corriere, Francesco Veronesi, born in the regional municipality of Bologna, says so. Who will argue, now that Luca Scalioli, Italy’s Consul-General to Toronto is also originally from the same Emilia Romagna?

The Executive Committee of the Basilicata Cultural Society in Vaughan stepped up to challenge the claim to cooking preemince with almost heretical defiance. We should be more precise.

The resident chefs at the Society’s club location, Enzo and Rita (his wife and mentor), accepted a challenge by fellow Executive member, Donato Montesano, to test out a new recipe on a few unsuspecting ‘buongustai’ just to prove that Lucani can be or are masters of Italian (therefore world) cuisine. Shocking!

Donato, aka Dan, provided the organic ingredients: fresh tomatoes, peppers (sweet and spicy), basilico, arugula and leafy greens from his backyard garden. He also provided the prosciutto crudo affettato, ulivi, parmegiano, aragosta and pesce from Bonavista Newfoundland.

These last two were fresh when he brought them back from Newfoundland. Enzo and Rita swore that they were “alive” when they thawed.
They argued about whether the name of the dish should really be ‘Rigatoni alla Giovanni Caboto’. Some readers, appetite at the ready, may have forgotten that Caboto (not from Basilicata but from Genova, later Venice then in the employ of Henry Tudor of England) heading westward, discovered Canada on June 24, 1497, right around supper time. Imagine the rest: first things first: “what’s to eat?” …uhh… fish!

Dan, who went to Newfoundland, following an easterly route from Toronto to Stephenville for an employee’s wedding, ended up in Bonavista, the closest North American port to Europe. Like Caboto the navigator, he had lost his way. When he arrived at Bonavista, like Caboto, he asked the obvious question.

Newfoundlanders, by now accustomed to wandering Italians, had a ready answer. After supper, like a good guest, Dan was all compliments. In return, the locals convinced him to transport fresh lobster and cod (frozen) to Toronto.

Back at Basilicata Cultural Society, the meal was a great “melt in your mouth” experience. The white wine was just the right temperature and perfect in alcohol by volume. But, neither Enzo nor Rita were forthcoming with a recipe, even when prodded.

Every meal is a unique experience, they argued. I thought I was back in Newfoundland.

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