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March 19, 2010     Post-Gazette
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Page12 POST-GAZETTE, MARCH 19, 2010 Ray Barron's 11 O'CLOCK NEWS This just in[ Sicily's capital, Palermo, tends to get overlooked on most tours of Italy, said Dan Hofstadter in Conde' Nast Traveler. It's set apart from the mainland, on the north- ern coast of the island, and being sealed off by a range of mountains known as the Conca d'Oro doesn't help. Nor does Palermo's glam- orous and grim reputation as the home to la Cosa Nostra, the oldest of the Italian crimi- nal societies. Even for those who do make the trip, Palermo is a city that requires time to get to know. But Sicilians will tell you that's part of its charm. Palermo's "ancient close-packed" streets contain so many historic and cultural trea- sures that the locals seem to have "grown oblivious" to most of them. You can walk the entire city and never run out of churches, chapels, oratories, and palaces to discover -- all evidence of the capital's complicated, 21,700-year history. Founded by the Phoenicians and named by the ancient Greeks, the city eventually became part of the Roman Empire, then passed into the hands of the Byzantines and, later, Arab rul- ers. The legacies of all eras can still be rec- ognized: The winding bazaars have a Byzan- tine feel, the city's cuisine bristles with Arab spices and flavors, the many capacious pla- zas were introduced following the Italian unification of the 1860s. Sometimes you feel as if Sicilians have an obsessive wish "to preserve everything, as if the world were a marvelous spectacle to be looked at." Well, according to Dan Hofstadter's excit- ing and revealing piece about his visit to Palermo, he also says, "My mouth watered when I stopped in a pastry shop, its vitrine filled with a hundred delicacies, including a high altar of marzipan, the great Sicilian specialty. Coming to know Palermo, it oc- curred to me, is like confronting such a sweet feast: Instead of nibbling, it's better to dive in and try to enjoy the whole crazy thing." Well, what are you waiting for? Book a trip to Sicily! Ah, Sicily! We did visit Sicily and my dear wife Marilyn looked forward to visiting the birthplace of her parents. Yes, I married a beautiful Sicilian. Good news! Italians are noted for using vin- egar and oil on their salads. And we now learn vinegar and oil can save your heart and help you shed pounds. UCLA cardiologist Matthew Budoff, M.D., has done several studies on garlic. He reports garlic lowers the risk of heart attacks by lowering blood pressure, rais- ing good cholesterol, lowering bad cholesterol and lowering levels of a protein that causes plaque. As for vinegar, its fat-fighting power has been proven in a study by the American Diabetes Foundation. Taking two tablespoons of vinegar before eating significantly reduced blood sugar and insulin spikes after meals. Scostumato! An Oregon man is suing po- lice, claiming he's been harassed for repeat- edly giving officers "the finger." Robert Ekas, 46, says that his middle-finger salutes were in protest over police brutality, and an exer- cise of his right to free speech. "I did it be- cause I have the right to do it," said Ekas. "We all have that right, and we all need to test it." Dummies? A study at Sheba Medical Cen- ter in Israel found that the lower a person's IQ, the more likely is that he or she smokes. Pack-a-day smokers had IQ scores 7.5 points lower than nonsmokers. Tom Analetto of Medford thinks no one gives up smoking without substituting some- thing for it, like boasting. The astute "Mona" Lisa Cappuccio of East Boston, says, "Many a high-strung person who gives up smoking keeps on fuming." Cursing festivall Two Nepalese villages celebrated their annual 10-day "cursing fes- tival," in which kids shout withering insults at one another such as, "Monkey face, I hope your sons are as ugly as frogs," and "I hope your buffaloes die of diarrhea." Bow wow! Paul Railton of England was fined $I00 when he was spotted holding his dog's leash through his car window, while the dog trotted alongside. "It was a silly thing to do and there was an element of laziness," Railton conceded. Robyn Waters of Swampscott, owner of a O O O dog, says, , "Isn't it wonderful how dogs can win friends and in- fluence people without ever reading a book." Hey! Happy birthday, Rob)I Robyn will be celebrating her birthday Wednesday, March 24 with her dog Penny, son Kyle and hubby Paul. In short, the attractive and ageless Robyn was born the year Alaska became a state, the Hula Hoop became popular, Hawaii was formally proclaimed the 50 th state and the "Sound of Music" opened on Broadway. Robyn was born on a Tuesday at 7:51 P.M. Again, happy birthday dear Robyn. Love, Dad[ Dad? Me! Yes, she's my loving daughter. Perhaps by the time you read it here things are back to normal at Central Falls High School in Providence. A school board in Provi- dence has taken the unprecedented action of firing all 93 teachers and administrators at a troubled local high school. The teachers were dismissed after their union and the board failed to agree on measures to improve school performance. Only 7 percent of Cen- tral Falls' 1 lth-graders meet state math pro- ficiency standards, and only 55 percent are proficient in reading. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, claimed that the teachers had been "scapegoat." But President Obama, asked about the firings, took a different view. "If a school continues to fail its students year after year after year," Obama said, "then there's got to be a sense of accountability." Carlo Scostumato thinks a teacher's lot is not a happy one: the worst behaved school- child usually has the best attendance record. When we were attending the Daniel Webster School in East Boston, we were one of the worst behaved kids in the class. Once the teacher whipped my hands with the bam- boo stick called the RA-tan-tan. Whack! Whack! WhackI Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! When I went home for lunch my mother spotted my red-swollen hands and threw a fit! "What happened? What happened?" Crying, we told her and she immediately took hold of me and went to the school to complain about the beat- ing. "You have no right to hit my little boy[" Today, it's called child abuse. And that's the way it was for little Joey Barisano of 49 Everett Street, the widow's only son. Fat pays offi A Florida woman says her love handles saved her life. Samantha Frazier, 35, was walking into a bar in New Jersey when a guy fired two bullets at a man run- ning out the door, hitting her on the left side. Doctors credited the ample fat deposits around her abdomen for keeping the bullet from striking any vital organs. "I could have been dead," says Frazier, who has been plan- ning to embark on a weight loss regimen. Now, she says, "I want to be as big as I can ff it's going to stop a bullet." Bella Culo of Chestnut Hill, thinks fat men are usually good-natured because good- natured men are usually fat. Time to hear from our distinguished mu- sicologist Albert Natale, who reminds us ac- tor Donald O'Connor has written symphonic compositions and has conducted the Los An- geles Philharmonic Orchestra. Crooner Nelson Eddy was once a reporter for the Phila- delphia Evening Bulletin. In the 1948 Presi- dential Election, Arthur Godfrey received four write-in votes from the state of Alabama. Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians sold more records than any other dance band in his- tory. Marilyn Monroe was the first centerfold for Hugh Hefner's "Playboy" magazine in De- cember, 1953. The Helen O'Connell-Bob Eberly duet of "Green Eyes" sold 90,00 copies in its first few days at a time when 25,000 copies was considered a great seller. And Barry Manilow was a slum kid from a broken home in Brooklyn. By the age of seven, he was playing the accordion. At thirteen, he was proficient at the piano. Before working his way into a successful career as a singer/ composer, Barry had studied at Julliard and the N.Y. College of Music. AMERICA IS A BEAUTIFUL ITALIAN NAME Recipes from the Homeland by Vita Orlando Sinopoli COPYRIGHT, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED PIZZA GHENA "Peeza Gay Na" Easter Ricotta Cheese Pie with Meats CRUST: I cup lukewarm water 2 to 3 packages dry yeast 6 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 teaspoon salt 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar 1/8 teaspoon black ground pepper 6 to 7 cups .flour - preferably King Arthur or Gold Medal 1 beaten egg for egg wash 1 9" x 12" x 3" baking pan Pour water into a bowl. Sprinkle yeast over water. Stir until yeast dissolves. Add oil, sugar, salt, pepper and stir. Add flour gradually until all water is absorbed. Add additional flour if dough is too soft. Work dough into a soft ball. Knead dough for a minute and then separate into two portions. Spray vegetable oil lightly into a bowl before placing the two por- tions in it. Cover and let dough rise to twice its size. Spray oil lightly over entire inside of baking pan. Moisten hands with oil for ease of spreading risen dough in baking pan. Then take one portion of crust dough out of bowl. Begin spreading and flattening it out by hand or with a rolling pin. Place it gently in the baking pan. Continue spreading by hand until the dough covers the entire inside of pan (includ- ing the four sides) all in one piece. Crust should be about I/8 inch in thickness. Set aside. FILLING: 8 beaten eggs I pound ricotta cheese 1 pound fresh formaggio cheese 1/2 cup freshly grated Romano cheese I/2 pound sliced ham of choice* I/2 pound sliced Prosciutto* 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon black ground pepper *Other dried cured meats can be added such as sopressata, pepperoni and various salami slices if desired. FILLING MIXTURE: In a large bowl place ricotta cheese, fresh cut-up formaggio cheese, grated Romano cheese, salt and pepper. Mix gently with a fork. Cut up ham and Prosciutto* slices into smaller portions and add to bowl. Add eight beaten eggs. Using a fork or spoon, mix thoroughly. Gently pour filling over bottom crust in the baking pan. Fill only about three-quarters of the baking pan, leaving about one inch or more from top edge of pan. Spread top crust to about 1/8 of an inch in thickness and large enough to cover mixture as one piece in baking pan. Then place over mixture. With your fingers, gently crimp edges of the two crusts together and roll inward to seal mix- ture in baking pan. If desired, crimp edge portions with fork. This is necessary to prevent mixture from seeping through any openings while baking. With pastry brush, spread egg wash over entire top crust. Prick three or four small openings of top crust to help mois- ture escape while baking. Place baking pan in middle shelf of preheated 400F oven for one-half hour. Then lower to 350F and continue baking for about three-quarters of an hour. Then lower oven to 300F and continue baking until the crust is golden brown. Check mixture after two hours of baking, insert a thin small knife into center. If knife blade comes out dry, mixture is cooked. Cool this special Easter pie for at least eight or nine hours for best results. Pie is served in square portions. Makes sixteen to eighteen portions. NOTE: Rose (Marcantonio) Sinopoli, my sister-in-law, has been encouraged yearly by her brother Dr. Joseph Marcantonio to prepare their mother's (Antonietta Pisano Marcantonio) original Pizza Ghena recipe. The family traveled from Avellino to America in the early 1920s, settling in Boston's North End before moving to Roslindale. For many years my husband and I have been privileged to taste some of Rose's delicious Pizza Ghena. Because Rose makes such a large pie each year for all members of her family, she kindly reduced the original size of the recipe so I can share this smaller-size recipe with you. MyBakery Perch \\;"lT,, ()ttLAt)o StNoPotA 1st Generation Italian-American Vim Orlando Sinopoli Shares with us a delightful recollection of her memories as a child growing up in Boston's "Little Italy" and a collection of Italian family recipes from the homeland. Great as Gifts FROM MY BAKERY PERCH available on AMAZON. COM and in local bookstores -- ask for Hard cover #1-4010-9805-3 ISBN Soft Cover #1-4010-9804-5 ISBN