Scenes From an Italian Wedding and Bacon-Wrapped Cauliflower and Broccoli Florets

Bacon-Wrapped Cauliflower and Broccoli FloretsHello there!

Long time no talk and no cook! 🙂 My personal photographer has been buried alive in the office, working long exhausting hours, and I have been busy with a … home project that is taking more than I was expecting.

So where were we? Ah, my cousin’s wedding! Care to know how it was? Sure!

Let me set the tone of this post right away by saying that I don’t like weddings. With my being an introvert, I just hate big gatherings and I try to stay away from weddings as much as anyone tries to protect themselves from contagious diseases. I can literally count on the fingers of one hand the weddings that I enjoyed, which thankfully include mine – maybe because I was kind of the main character there. 😉 Still, I end up attending most of the weddings I’m invited to because good manners and social conventions require me to do it.

But let’s start from the beginning. The groom and the bride (my cousin) picked Ravenna, a town in Emilia Romagna (a region in Northern Italy) as their religious celebration venue. This choice upset some of my family members for different reasons, including that it contravened the old Italian tradition that a wedding must be celebrated in the bride’s hometown (which, in our case, would have been in Southern Italy).

The mass was set to start at 6:00pm on a Saturday. My close family, Her Majesty and I (Stefano, my sneaky husband, deserted the happy gathering adducing work-related excuses! 😉 ) arrived in Ravenna from Rome at 10:00pm on Friday, after (only!) a 5-hour train ride. I hadn’t even put one foot through the hotel doorway that a countless number of my mom’s relatives (first cousins, second cousins, third cousins, whatever degree cousins!) started hugging me and asking “Do you remember me?” The first thing that came to my mind? “Honestly, I haven’t the faintest idea who you are, maybe because the last time I saw you I was seven and please let me go since I need to breathe every now and then”. Did I go for it? Of course not! Only because I wouldn’t have heard the end of it from my mom. I put on my fakest smile and, using my best Virgin Mary voice, I said that it was very late and I had to put Her Majesty to bed.

The next morning, at breakfast, the same scene repeated itself more or less, only with more people and the additional tiny detail that everyone was speaking dialects from the south of Italy (both the bride’s and the groom’s families are originally from there). Now, I grew up listening to those dialects so, even if I cannot speak a word, I understand them pretty well. But Her Majesty? There is no day that goes by without Stefano correcting her Italian pronunciation and grammar so that she only speaks a perfect, proper and accent-less Italian, and as a result she felt completely lost in that breakfast room and she asked me which foreign language our relatives were speaking! 😉 That’s when I knew that I had to leave that room and leave fast. Ravenna gave me the perfect excuse.

Bacon-Wrapped Cauliflower and Broccoli Florets

Ravenna is a little gem from a historical and artistic point of view. It was the capital of the Roman Empire in the 5th century and then of the Byzantine Empire until the 8th century. Ravenna’s monuments and mosaic art are so unique that UNESCO added eight, I say eight, of its monuments to the World Heritage List. Of course, it was impossibile for me and her Majesty to visit all of them that morning but I was determined to see as much as we could. When we stepped into the Basilica of San Vitale, Her Majesty was speechless (and believe me, it doesn’t happen very often!) in front of the extraordinary beauty and magnificence of the mosaics. We spent most of the morning contemplating as many mosaics as we could and Her Majesty got all excited at the idea that, maybe one day, she could attend Ravenna’s mosaic restoration school. Another site that you do not want to miss if you happen to be in Ravenna is Dante’s tomb. Yup, the divine poet died and was buried there in 1321. The stories of how Florence (Dante’s hometown and the same town that condemned him to exile) has been trying over the years to bring the body of the most famous Italian literate back home are really amusing. Time literally flew by and, at lunch, it was time to get back to my “family” reality.

Eventually 6:00pm came. Her Majesty was the ring bearer and she was supposed to precede the bride down the aisle. I immediately knew that the ceremony was going to be a disaster by the tone that the priest used to address my daughter outside the church: arrogant and rude! I disliked him instantly!

Now, the usual Italian catholic wedding ceremony is very long and the sermon is crucial in making the difference between a good one and a bad one. In my mind, a good sermon is one that is supposed to convey a sweet message of love, happiness and blessing for the newlyweds. Sweet sermon my foot!

The opening statement of that guy was that there was not going to be any sermon because the love of the two lovebirds didn’t need any comment and then he went on and on for 2 hours (two hours, I say!) pontificating and thundering against us, poor sinners, so strongly that I thought the dome was about to crack open and the arrows of some vindicative angels would pierce our hearts. I’m pretty sure that Michelangelo was listening to a sermon like that when he got the idea of how the Final Judgement should look like! 😉

Finally, past 8:00pm, after surviving the Inquisition torture and avoiding divine punishment, we got out of the church and jumped on a private bus to go to the place where the wedding reception would be, which was (only! 😦 ) a 40 minute ride away!!!
When we got there, people were famished. When they saw the appetizers’ buffet table, they attacked it like there was no tomorrow. I saw plates so full of food that a starving dinosaur would have turned pale in front of them!

And after everyone stuffed themselves with so much food that they were ready to blow up (à la Monty Python, you know the “wafer thin mint” scene?…), the unavoidable wedding dinner started. After two endless pasta courses (it felt like it took me less to give birth to Her Majesty!), at 11:30pm the second course was starting being served… Now, the newlyweds’ choice fell on pork (seriously? In August?) and they wanted to impress their guests showing the whole poor cooked animal on a serving plate before it was all cut out to delight our palates (like I still had one!). I had the brilliant idea to wear a pair of gorgeous Sergio Rossi high heels (over 12 cm) for the occasion. After all those hours, my feet were so swollen that you could have replaced them with those of the poor pork on that darn serving plate and nobody, nobody would have noticed the difference.

Bacon-Wrapped Cauliflower and Broccoli FloretsAt 1:00am the wedding cake was finally brought out to the garden. I couldn’t care less at that point. I don’t even know what cake was served. I kept just staring at the people sitting at my table falling asleep on the plate and constantly watching their watches. Why? Because 2:00am was the time that had been set for our freedom. That was the time when the bus was going to pick us all up and take us back to the hotel.

The cherry on top of the cake? That night, the Italian gods decided to surprise us sending a thick fog our way – in August… The bus driver had to drive very slowly and it took us way more than 40 minutes to get back to Ravenna.

When I put my face on the pillow at 4:00am thanking God that this excruciating night was finally over, I promised myself that the next wedding I am going to attend will be Her Majesty’s!!!

Oh well, enough with the wedding! Let’s talk about something more tempting. 🙂

Did I tell you that I love appetizers? A good appetizer (along with a glass of champagne or white wine of course!) has the magical power to put me in a great mood. Don’t get me wrong: I love the classic cheese platter, especially if it is full of rich, soft French cheeses, but variety is what makes life beautiful, isn’t it?

The good thing about this appetizer is that you can really cheat yourself. After all, you are eating vegetables. Let’s not focus on the fact that they are fried and wrapped in bacon, shall we? 😉

Now, there is really no recipe for this appetizer. You will just need some broccoli and cauliflower florets, plus the same ingredients you would use to make your breaded chicken cutlets (flour, eggs, breadcrumbs), some extravirgin olive oil and some slices of bacon.

Directions:

Coat the florets into the flour. Shake the excess off and dip the florets into some beaten salted eggs. Let the excess drip off and coat the florets into the breadcrumbs.

Fry the florets in olive oil. When they are browned, remove the florets from the oil, place them on some paper towel and let them cool off.

Preheat oven at 375F.

Wrap the florets with bacon slices, overlapping the ends of the slices under the florets.

Put some parchment paper on a baking sheet, place the wrapped florets on the paper and bake them for about 10 minutes.

Remove the florets from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes.

Decorate the florets with party toothpicks of your choice et voila’!

Hope you are enjoying this gorgeous fall weather!

F. Xx

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About Francesca

I am a cook and the founder and art director of Flora's Table, the fine cooking and wine blog. Check us out at www.florastable.com :-)
This entry was posted in Recipes and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to Scenes From an Italian Wedding and Bacon-Wrapped Cauliflower and Broccoli Florets

  1. Francesca, you’re writing is terrific! I laughed so hard… Thanks for brightening my day. 🙂

  2. Liz says:

    You are right no talk and no cook for so long. Glad to hear from you. I enjoyed reading your post. On the contrary I love weddings even though I don’t love gatherings in general. Wish your cousin and her husband the best of times!

  3. Bizou says:

    Wow.i don’t know it sounds so excitingly torturous if this makes any sense. Loving ALL about Italy just can’t imagine a wedding there could turn out to be that way. Simply out of my imagination, but non the less hopefully you did have some enjoyments after all??? The appetizer look magnificently delicious & your writing / story telling is so charming & funny. I enjoy your blog. Thank you

  4. Francesca says:

    Thank you so much! Glad you enjoy it!
    I have to say that the food at the wedding (especially the appetizers) was really good. 🙂

  5. Hi Francesca, great story! Hope the newlyweds (as well as tua mamma!) don’t read your blog 😉 The amount of food sounds like southern Italy, even though this was Ravenna. In the Netherlands there is a double ceremony (legal at the town hall and religious in the church) and we usuallly skip the church! A 2-hour sermon is ridiculous. Great to ‘see’ you again! Lovely appetizers.

    • Francesca says:

      Thanks, Stefan! It’s nice to be back and hear from my blogger friends. 🙂
      Thank goodness, my cousin is a smart, lovely girl with a great sense of humor. She knew I was going for it!
      We do have a double ceremony in Italy too! The Lord, in his endless mercy, spared me from attending the civil celebration and, for that, I’ll be forever thankful! 😉

  6. talkavino says:

    Great story, Francesca! And I’m really glad to see you find the time to write again! Hope to see you soon.

  7. There you are Francesca, have not seen you or Stefano in what seems like ages. I am so with you, I cannot stand large gatherings, small intimate parties are what I prefer. I also could count on one hand the number of events I have been too. Why is it that some of the Catholic clergy are so nasty, I have known several and it’s like they hate everyone and aren’t afraid to show it. The Wedding sounds big and long and I commiserate the high heels and hurting feet and hunger, Been there. Her Majesty had to be over it all, I can imagine she was not a happy camper.
    I love your appetizers, when I lived in Naples there was a small restaurant that made fritto misto, assortments of deep fried vegetables, fish, etc.. so delicious and this reminds me of that spot I frequented every week. Lovely seeing you I have missed you and Stefano.

    • Francesca says:

      We missed you too, Suzanne! Unfortunately, Stefano is still under the gun at work and things will take some time to get back to normal. He hasn’t taken a day off since … I don’t even remember.
      I love fritto misto too. The vegetables and fish are dipped into a light and fluffy batter (we call it “pastella”) and then fried. Simply to die for! 🙂
      As to the nasty clergymen, I have met a few myself. I’m starting thinking that the reason be the way they live and interpret the Catholic religion: guilty, sin and punishment rather than focusing on the goodness of the Catholic values (love, mercy, help the others and forgiveness).
      Maybe the fact that they are not allowed to have their own family doesn’t let them to fully develop emotionally, although their spirituality and devotion to the Lord should make them the best men on earth.
      Definitely a topic worth discussing with a theologian or, simpler, a good clergyman.

  8. Mary says:

    Such a funny story Francesca – got to love those Italian weddings through someone elses eyes. Your appetizers sound great, I love cauliflower and will definitely be giving these a try.

  9. chef mimi says:

    Very funny. I have, thankfully, only been to one catholic wedding. Hopefully no more. Love your appetizers!

    • Francesca says:

      Thank you, Mimi! It looks like you had a no-so-great experience too. Don’t despair though. Once in a while, people are lucky enough to attend a great Catholic wedding. Who knows? Maybe, next time, you’ll be the lucky one! 😉
      Have a great week!

  10. sabine says:

    You made me giggle a whole lot while reading this movie script of yours! I hope your heels were gorgeous enough to make up for the fact that they made you suffer that night ( apart from the other elements of the wedding you seemed to have disliked!). Every excuse to spoil yourself with yummy starters!

  11. Dina says:

    So good to see you here again, Francesca! Sorry, I laughed myself silly reading your *** wedding report. 😀 You are right, take a break until Her Majesty decides to celebrate eher weeding. I wonder what be her choice? Barefoot, hippie party on the beach or traditional white? Wishing you the best son in law there ever was. And soon less hectic times, take good care.
    ❤ from us all, Dina

  12. Francesca says:

    So happy to hear from you, Dina! No need to apologize. Glad you enjoyed it!
    If I know her Majesty, her wedding will be anything but traditional (including the groom)! 😉
    Klausbernd told me that you are sick. I hope you’ll feel better soon.
    Take care, my friend!
    Love, F. Xx

  13. Hello Francesca, Look time indeed, I am glad you are back. :). I enjoyed, a lot, your report on your cousin’s wedding it was very entertaining and made me smile – your writing is so readable. As a fellow introvert I don’t know how you survived until 4am – I would need a week of solitude after such an event! And that priest! Bxx

    • Francesca says:

      Thank you very much, B.! No a week of solitude was not enough for me! Only, last week, I had the strength to talk about the wedding with my aunt! 😉
      F. Xx

  14. Karen says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post for so many reasons. Thank you first for sharing a recipe that I know would be very popular at cocktail parties…I know they would disappear quickly. Your story about the wedding had me laughing…I’ve been to a few like that. 😀 I can relate to the story of the dialects. We took my sweet mother in law, whose family was originally from Naples, with us to Italy one year. I asked her to accompany me into a hotel in Sanremo to help me ask about hotel rooms. She spoke to the receptionist. Yes, they had rooms but we weren’t going to take them as she quickly left the hotel…it was the only time I ever saw her angry. She said the receptionist had mumble to herself that Neapolitans don’t know how to speak proper Italian.

    • Francesca says:

      Hurray for your mother-in-law! My mother (she is from Southern Italy too) would have talked to the hotel manager demanding the receptionist’s head be served on a silver platter! 😉
      Some people from Northern Italy should be ashamed of themselves! They are so ignorant! Don’t they know that lots of brilliant minds come from Southern Italy?
      Quoting our great poet Dante, “Let us not speak of them, but do look and pass on”.
      Have a great day, Karen! 🙂

  15. Oh I can relate completely Francesca – big, long weddings are not for me either! Particularly if you don’t have close friends sitting there with you… that whole awkward feeling of arriving to find your place settings, amongst strangers who you are destined to chit chat with for hours, until finally you can disappear into the night… to freedom and home! I hope there were a number of other positives (along with the sights of Ravenna) to your trip to Italy though and that you were able to enjoy some quality family time.
    These look like lovely little appetisers… I’m sold with anything that’s bacon-wrapped! Yum! 🙂

    • Francesca says:

      Thank you, Margot! I’m totally with you! Those weddings are the worst especially because chit chatting is not exactly my thing. I don’t know why but, on those occasions, I instantly put on the same face I would put on if I had to go to the guillotine! Maybe that’s why nobody talks to me! 😉

  16. Amanda says:

    Lovely appetizers. I”m with you on weddings. I really dislike them. Odd, uncomfortable, not always good food. But this town sounds so beautiful. At least you made it through with a sense of humor.

    • Francesca says:

      Thank you, Amanda! Seriously? Based on the reading of your lovely blog, I picture you super smiley and cheerful. The perfect wedding attendee! 🙂
      Yes, a good sense of humor is the only thing that can help me going through these events! 😉

      • Amanda says:

        Funny you’d say that. When I read your “About” page I was like “this woman puts out how I feel half the time”. I’m animated by people (cool people) and enjoy good company, but not pomp and circumstance and I hate events, though I “do well” at them. I just feel like I have the clown nose on sometimes and would prefer to be alone. I’m an introverted extrovert. My own wedding only had 50 ppl. All but 8 were family. And only 4 were friends the other 4 were significant others. I’m warm, but not cheerful. It’s a disguise. 🙂

      • Francesca says:

        You disguise works beautifully and I love your definition: “an introverted extrovert”! Mind if I borrow it sometimes? 😉
        Have a great night, Amanda!

  17. milkandbun says:

    Happy to see you back, dear bloggofriend! 🙂 What a lovely and funny story, Francesca! You made me smiling! But the city seems to be very beautiful and charming!
    Have a nice week!

  18. Francesca says:

    Thank you very much, Mila! Yes, Ravenna is such a wonderful town! So unique!
    Have a lovely week too! Xx

  19. Sophie33 says:

    Francesca, I love, love your cool writing! What a fun post too,….Thanks! 😉

  20. Francesca says:

    So, so very kind of you, Sophie! Thank you so much! 🙂

  21. I used to love weddings–in my home town, when I was young. They were always the same, predictable thing — a short ceremony in the mid-to-late afternoon (20-30 minutes for the Protestants; 50-60 minutes for the Catholics, but they also had a lot more music, which made the time pass easy); followed by a Midwestern-style dinner (turkey or ham, potatoes, salad, cake and coffee, simple, plentiful and tasty) followed by a dance with a real live band, usually playing a mix of polkas and country-western. At 11 or 12, everyone went home.

    The last two weddings I went to were weird and uncomfortable. But your story puts my minor annoyances to shame.

    Was the priest old? He sounds exactly like a grumpy old man. Maybe he should consider retiring?

    The priests here get “donations” for doing weddings, and therefore they would never act out like that — because they wouldn’t get their money.

  22. This is why I got married at the City Hall! Glad to hear from you, I love your way of writing and your appetizer too!

  23. Francesca says:

    Thank you so much! Awfully nice of you! 🙂

  24. Two hours!! I loved reading about your wedding misery! I think we have all been in those situations where it would be rude to walk out but endure them through gritted teeth.

    • Francesca says:

      Thank you, Maria! Yes, sometimes we have no choice. I thought that aging would have helped me to go through certain situations but it’s not happening … at least for now! 😉

      • Don’t worry, as you get older you will get to a stage when you say the word ‘No’ loudly and clearly and with a happy heart, and everyone forgives you because you are old!! I am not there yet but I have started the training!

  25. mmmarzipan says:

    Loved this- both your writing and the food!!! ❤

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