Back when I was on my Italy trip, I made sure to make it to Naples in time for Sunday lunch. Yeah, I had my bff that was in Rome for the rest of the day and I had plenty of other things to do in the eternal city. The train ticket was more expensive than I had planned but Sunday lunch cannot be missed. Especially when it is in Napoli.
After a small miscommunication where my bf’s dad went to the airport instead of the train station (oops!), we were off to pick up zia and nonna. Arriving back home, the smells of an EPIC Sunday lunch permeated the house. You gotta appreciate a mamma who has lunch ready for you once you walk in.
To start off, we had pasta with ragú. Yes, the name evokes the canned American “Ragu” sauce, but please, let’s not compare apples to well…something disgusting. The traditional Neapolitan version is a maddeningly complex gut-bomb of a recipe with various “poor” cuts of meat and hours of preparation. Two, not one, versions of LARD are used. My hostesses with the mostest made a simplified version using tomato sauce, red wine, sausages, pork spare-ribs and salt. Nothing more, nothing less. Add that simmered sauce to pasta and have you got a meal.
Of course, in Naples, that is only the beginning. After the pasta, you get a separate plate with the meat from the ragú. For the second dish, we had sausages and eggplant parm. Keeping it light, right? In Naples, if you look, it is fairly common to find sausages made “a punta di cotello.” These are not your typical sausages with finely ground meat inside. Rather, the pieces of pork are cut by hand, with a knife as the name implies. Trust me, your life will not be the same after trying these.
For our side dish, we had piping hot parmigiana di melanzane. Layers of thinly cut fried eggplant mingled with smoked provola cheese and a simple homemade tomato sauce. Man, do I love this dish. Try it in Naples and you’ll see that the Italian-American version really pales in comparison to the original version. Normally, I am on the parm assembly line, layering the eggplant, the sauce, the cheese and some basil.
As if we didn’t overdo our caloric intake for the week, dessert happened about 30 minutes after the main meal. The family likes to buy small pastries from a small bakery down the street, and let’s just say I don’t complain. They aren’t my absolute favorite in the city, but they are darn good. Tiny sugar cookie boats filled with Nutella, cream puffs covered in caramelized sugar, mini babà-holy diabetes! Top it off with coffee and homemade limoncello and you’ve got a meal fit for a king…and the need to nap like never before.