Love, Italian Style (with Recipe for Anchovy-stuffed Peppers Basilicata)


My Dad has had a long love affair with Italy.

It started with Giovanni, an Italian who lives in the Ligurian town of La Spezia and who worked in the same field as my Dad. When they met, the two hit it off immediately and, eventually, became fast friends. For many years, my Dad and Giovanni have enjoyed a
mutual admiration society. Some of my Dad’s best stories are of his travels with Giovanni.

Giovanni has equally great stories about my Dad. Years ago my husband and I went to Italy and visited Giovanni, who gave us an impressive tour of Liguria and Piemonte. Everywhere we went was a place that Giovanni and my Dad had gone together. Every place triggered an entertaining story about my Dad.

We dubbed the trip, Following in the Footsteps of Santo Earlo (my Dad being Earl). If my Dad had gone a place with Giovanni, so did we. And if we thought about deviating from the route previously taken by Santo Earlo, Giovanni convinced us we would live in error if we strayed from the path. We had a great time; Giovanni was the consummate host.

One of Giovanni’s greatest coups was convincing the management of Fontanafredda winery into giving us a tour even though the winery was not open that day. God knows who Giovanni said we were, but we were given the executive tour, and treated to an amazing tasting of Fontanafredda’s excellent Barolos.

Although my Dad’s health no longer allows him to physically travel, he remains in close contact with Giovanni, and spends time in Italy by reading about his favorite country. My Dad sends many of these books to Giovanni. The two enjoy their own private book club by letter and email.

Eboli BookCarlo Levi’s book Christ Stopped at Eboli: The Story of a Year, is one my Dad and Giovanni both loved. In the 1930s, Levi was banished to Southern Italy, and held under house arrest for opposing Mussolini and the Fascists. In Christ Stopped at Eboli, Levi describes the land to which he was banished: its people, its poverty, and the horrible conditions that led many Italians to leave their homeland for life in America. Italians say “Christ stopped at Eboli” meaning that once you travel south of Eboli, the people are uncivilized, forgotten, and deprived.

Basilicata BookMy Dad is currently reading Seasons in Basilicata: A Year in a Southern Italian Hill Village by David Yeadon. Yeadon describes his life in the village where Levi was held, and his experiences there.

Yesterday my Dad sent me a passage from Seasons in Basilicata in which the author describes a memorable meal: “And so we had a kind of pre-dinner around a large kitchen table in a toasty warm kitchen with a platter of bruschetta spread with tomato sauce (home made of course), fat slices of pecorino (ditto), and beautiful red peppers stuffed with a mixture of minced crumbled bread, anchovies, garlic, cheese, and egg and roasted in the oven with home made olive oil.”

My Dad was intrigued by the use of anchovies in the pepper stuffing, and thought the idea would appeal to me. It did. So here, in honor of Carlo Levi, my Dad, and dear Giovanni, is my version of the stuffed peppers described by Yeardon.

Be sure to check out the recipes mentioned in this post:


13 Responses to Love, Italian Style (with Recipe for Anchovy-stuffed Peppers Basilicata)

  1. Nice twist for stuffed peppers and I assume the anchovies just melt away, nice.

  2. Yes, the anchovies do just melt away. Their flavor doesn’t stand out; it just enhances the flavors in the stuffing.

  3. Your father sounds great! I also just love the idea of anchovies in stuffed peppers, what a great idea!

  4. Maryann@FindingLaDolceVita says:

    Another great article. I’m glad I found your site 🙂

  5. oh i was n la spezia for 3 months….. a guy i worked with cant stand anchovies but when i incorporate it w cooking he does not even realizes it

  6. Kalyn, thanks yet again for kind words; you are always so positive and supportive! My Dad IS a great guy.

    Maryann, I am enjoying your site as well – thanks for dropping by.

    Sha, you really made me laugh about sneaking in those anchovies. Anchovies are kind of like fish sauce — you miss what they add to food if you leave them out even though you may not want to eat them on their own (although I’ve been known to eat an anchovy or two — or three. I like the ones preserved whole in salt the best.
    I have fond memories of La Spezia — it’s a very beautiful place.

  7. I adore stuffed peppers and just prepared some over the weekend. This is an intriguing recipe as well. Bookmariked and ready to go for the next time!

  8. Thanks, Valli, I hope you like them! Stuffed peppers are wonderful. I buy mine at Costco, but they originally came from down your way in Surrey. The growers are BC Hot Houses, which grow them hydroponically.

  9. I’ve been collecting recipes of stuffed peppers, thanks for this one. It really looks delicious.

  10. Thanks Gay!

  11. CaliforniaKat says:

    Laurie, my fiance mistakenly purchased coarse salted whole anchovies from Mytilini and I have no idea what to do with them. I came here in hopes you might have a recipe, but didn’t find anything. Have any suggestions? Do I batter and fry them?

  12. Hi Kat. You rinse the salt off, and then peel the anchovy meat away from the bones. The bones and any residual guts are discarded. You can use the cleaned anchovy fillets as is (which is what I do), or you can soak them in cold water for a short time to remove some of the salt. I actually prefer salted whole anchovies to the fillets. Whole anchovies are easy to clean and, in my opinion, have better flavor.

  13. CaliforniaKat says:

    Thanks Laurie. Sounds so easy! Since I have all the ingredients for this recipe, I’ll make it in honor of our fathers. My dad loved anchovies, and I’ve only recently in the last decade embraced them also.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *