Only a few weeks ago I was complaining about not having had enough of a beach summer. Strangely, I only feel the pain of the end of the summer when it’s still there, but oh so cruelly nearing its end. Now, I feel like embracing the crispness of autumn. And accordingly, my regrets take a different shape: desire for some heart-warming fall-food, right from the Alps.
So here is one thing that expatriates can cook in New York in precisely the same way they would at home: potato-pancakes with apple-sauce, as every mountain kid loves them. Several stores, including Balducci’s, carry a German (or Austrian?) product by Pfanni, a kind of pre-shredded, dried potato-cum-herbs mix. That’s what literally everyone, even the most sophisticated gourmets, use in Europe. You only add water, wait a couple of minutes, and off you go. Some olive oil in a pan, and the little potato pancakes are done in just a few minutes.
Apple sauce, in Italy, is done differently from the way it’s done here. The word “apple sauce”, in fact, is a little distasteful for me, since it suggests a sauce. In Italy, we love real pieces of apple, not a sauce-like substance, which to us tastes as if one were in a hospital. So you buy the best apples you can get (right now a lot of stores carry organic apples from the region, which have a nice mix of acid and sweetness), cut them up, add some (very little) sugar, and then either of the following: lots of freshly squeezed lemon juice; or some lemon juice and some orange juice; or some lemon juice and some white whine. You will easily guess that the latter is the real Italian way of doing it.
Eating your potato pancake with cooked apples (let’s call it that), you will genuinely feel at home.