Fresella with tuna e mozzarella

By Patrizia Cucca

I never focused much on my childhood foods, recently however, is it age? I have begun to reminisce over old food haunts and forgotten treats. It has almost become an obsession. I discovered that I have an abundant amount of energy and passion for creating fantastic food. I love exploring my culinary DNA and offering you a glimpse of these hidden treasures. Food is a basic pleasure, a sensual instinct that we can all relate to. The flavors and smells of mom’s recipes is my mother tongue. I imagine and dream them and even though I have adapted some in my own way, they define comfort, excitement and joy for me. Almost everything I cook is filtered through the prism of my childhood experiences and the foods my mother fed me. The list is endless and simply too long to recall. Most of my food images lie well beyond my consciousness. I love the nostalgic trip into my past. Cooking and eating good food in my home is important because it defines me. I cook and eat, mostly relying on impulses for what feels right, looks beautiful and tastes delicious. My strong spirit of warmth and generosity, sometimes almost overbearing, is most certainly inherited from my mother. Come over for dinner and you are always served mountains of food and nothing is done sparingly. Heaven forbid, somebody “go home hungry”. Speaking of hungry, I have had a slow and lazy Saturday morning; I should make us some lunch. I think I will do something with bread and tomatoes, Freselle immediately comes to mind. This is a simple dish consisting of toasted bread, tomatoes and tuna packed in olive oil. Freselle is bread that is toasted and dried to death, until it basically turns into a brick. While this doesn’t sound very appealing, it is a very convenient way of storing bread for long periods of time. I read that Freselle were a common food for sailors, that would take them on their trip and soak them in sea water to soften and flavor them before eating. Not sure if that is the best way of eating Freselle, but I can see it working. On land and at our house, Freselle are usually seasoned by topping them with sliced tomatoes, oregano and a few anchovies. As kids we didn’t like anchovies so mom would makes our with tuna and I must add that I am thrilled to be able to buy Freselle today at my deli because when I look back at all the work, the time, mom spent baking loaves of bread and making Freselle; well let’s just say she has no idea what a lazy Saturdays is.
400gr – Freselle (you can find them in some Italian delicatessens), 350gr – Tuna in Olive Oil, 250gr – Mozzarella di Bufala, 100gr – Olives, 50gr – Black Olives, 100gr – cherry tomatoes, 100gr – rocket salad, 1 – celery, 1 – onion, 2 tbs – Extra Virgin Olive, Oil, salt according to taste, black pepper according to taste, a handful of fresh basil.
Wet quickly Freselle with cold tap water (1 to 2 seconds). The Fresella will soften without losing its crunchiness, put the Freselle in a serving plate, add the chopped cherry tomatoes, add the Tuna with all its oil, add the Olives, add the celery and onion cut julienne, top the center of the Fresella with the rocket salad and the Mozzarella di Bufala, finally top with the Extra Virgin Olive Oil and the fresh Basil.



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