If you’ve read ‘City of Devils’ you’ll know that food and wine are intrinsic aspects of my writing. In particular I use them to convey my lead character’s voyage of discovery in a new country. Turin, where the book is set, is in the region of Piedmont, a centre for some truly wonderful cuisine and these days home of the Slow Food Movement. During one of my research trips I went to a Sunday morning farmer’s market which gave me the chance to experience the fresh produce from the area at first hand. There was also a book- stall and I was lucky enough to find a collection of local recipes that dated back to the 19th century. I have used some these in ‘City of Devils’ and also the sequel ‘The Devil’s Daughters’ and I thought that it would be fun to share some of them with you.
One of my favourite scenes is where my protagonist James Murray is taken by his new employer Cesare Lombroso to a local trattoria. Here they dine on acciughe al verde (anchovies in green herb sauce) and finanziera, (a rich casserole with all sorts of bits that might be difficult to get hold of like veal brains and spinal cord and chicken crest braised in red wine). Here is the recipe for the first dish, which is rather more appetising and has more accessibly ingredients.
Acciughe al Verde
20 anchovies, filleted and rinsed of salt.
3 cloves of garlic
A handful of fresh parsley and basil.
A dried chilli pepper.
The yolks of 2 hard boiled eggs.
Extra virgin Ligurian olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar.
Chop the herbs, garlic, chilli and egg yolks and place in a bowl. Add the vinegar and oil to make a dense sauce – the consistency of single cream. Arrange your anchovies on your serving dish and cover with sauce. Then simply repeat these layers until you run out.
I ate this dish in a Torinese restaurant called Tre Galli in the Via Agostino 25 accompanied with some fresh crusty bread and a glass or two of an elegant, citrussy chardonnay from the Langhe. Well I do like to be thorough in my research!