An army marches on its belly.

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Oysters from Cape Cod, just dug and ready to be snapped open whilst I prep. They were brought into the North End by Stony Island Seafood. For me, they are seasonal and I like to buy them a few times during the Winter. Then kiss those alluring bivalves good-bye until next year.

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Mussels with parts of the ocean floor still attached. These are farmed and are grown on ropes in the water. These mussels are unwashed and still have their “beard’ attached.

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In the truest sense of cooking simply, I steam the mussels open with wine only. Mussels are cheap and these will not last until the Seven Fishes. I will strain, reserve and freeze this wine poaching liquor. I have a cup of shellfish stock which now gives me options and support to back up the flavors of my Seven Fishes menu.

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As a continuing experiment in no waste……..I am going to cheerfully attempt to smoke these cooked mussels over charcoal. With luck, that’s tomorrow night.

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Piemonte or Piedmont is a region in northern Italy, of which the city Turin is the regional capital. Juventus is the famous local football team. Truth be told, I have’nt drank a chardonnay since the Pope complained about sliced bread. The Pope was wrong again and I would buy this wine again. Any Juve fans here……I’m a heartbreaker, Forza Milan.

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Fregola…….or Sardinian cous-cous, much better than that spongy, mushy Israeli junk or that light-weight Sicilian fluff. This is the real deal for all your North African Tagines. Long story short, once upon a time Sardinia was invaded by the Arabs who brought their kitchen with them. Saffron was one of those ingredients. I recommend a pinch of saffron in the cooking water. This cous-cous has been dry-roasted ahead of packaging, hence the discoloring. This dry-roasting technique increases the slighly nutty, wheaty flavor of the pasta. The traditional recipe is to pair it with clams and tomato sauce. For me, it is a lunch-box favorite item. I like to build a salad around it.

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Polenta, from the latin word “Pulmentum”, is a gruel made from crushed grains. However, corn arrived much later than Roman times….which begs the question. What exactly did they eat in this gruel? The records suggest wheat or farro. It was this cooked milled grain that sustained the Roman armies as they plundered North Africa, Asia Minor and Europe. An army marches on it’s belly, so to speak.

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Black pasta……colored by the defensive spray of the cuttlefish or squid……calamari…squid ink pasta. The only flavored pasta with any real flavor, in my opinion. This comes from Puglia, which is the region of Italy in the heel of the boot. Think southern Italian cooking.

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The controversy over olive oil still goes on. This one is from Sicily……..I like my knee-caps. I use it everyday without fear. I refer you to my previous postings on extra virgin olive oil.

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