There are just some things that you arbitrarily find to be what people call comfort food—you know what I’m sayin’? Perhaps it is that traditional Genovese dish called Cima, a stuffed veal breast that’s oh so good. In my mind Cima alla Genovese is a fine example of cucina povera, too, but different from the simplicity of many Italian dishes. It’s got lots of ingredients. Ingredients that can surprise you.
But first a picture of Cima alla Genovese
The surprising part: There are some things in there that come from the basic innards of the animal you don’t often see chopped up into food. I know this because I happened to consult Kyle Phillips, my go-to guy when it comes to the cuisine. He had a Cima Recipe of course. The third item on the rather long list of ingredients sorta floored me.
1/4 pound (100 g) cow’s udder
Hmm. This would scare some folks away. They are folks I never understand. You know, folks who look back at what they’ve eaten and point to the dish they’ve cleaned with that scarpetta, the little shoe of bread, and can’t help exclaiming, “What’s in this? It’s the most fabulous thing I’ve ever wrapped my tongue around. I’m going to make this for sure. Gimme the recipe, dammit. I gotta have it. This dish is gonna be on my special Christmas menu, I can tell you that!”
And then you tell them that Cima alle Genovese contains, among other things, exactly 1/4 of a cow’s udder.
That’s when you see them shrink away, like when that rubber fantasy lady (or man) you have in the closet (and use in an emergency) springs a leak (I mean an air leak of course).
In any case, they’ll be left gasping for air after you tell them the next ingredient: half a calf’s brain. By the time you get to the testicle you’ve lost them. They may need artificial respiration.
(On the other hand, the recipe can be used to teach your gourmet-inclined children about fractions. Just a thought.)
Just in case you still have a fondness in your sweetbreads (yeah, it’s got that, too, and so do you), you can find this fine specimen at Osteria da Vittorio in Chiavari. The whole plate with the vegetables and all will cost you a mere 6 euro. Yes, you should do the whole tour of Chiavari I’ve outlined in Hidden Liguria: Chiavari
You don’t have to worry about coming to my house and having Cima alla Genovese forced into you because I don’t even know the words for “cow udder” in Italian, nor have I ever seen a quarter of one stuffed in a Styrofoam tray over at the Conad Market. So you’re safe. Really.