A Souvenir from Florence: Fried Sage

Salvia Fritti

Fried Sage 2I’m usually not one to bring home many souvenirs from my trips abroad. There were exceptions, of course, but these days I’m more prone to bring home recipes or ideas for enhancing my own. Last week’s garganelli post was one such souvenir. This past trip was no exception.

Just like here now, Italy was at the end of the Spring pea season when we arrived. Still, though, I was served a number of dishes in which fresh peas were an ingredient. Whereas I cook peas fully whenever I add them to pasta, these were served relatively al dente. The result was a much fresher tasting pea, giving the pasta that Primavera flavor. Since returning home, I’ve been buying fresh peas every week and doing little more than heating them before serving. Try it next time you make pasta with peas and let me know what you think.

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On our first night together in Florence, we went to a nearby restaurant for dinner. The menu offered an antipasto called “Salvia Fritti”. We knew that it was fried sage but that didn’t seem like anything special. After all, we’ve all used fried sage leaves for a garnish. When asked, the waiter explained that the sage leaves were used to enclose anchovies before being dipped in batter and fried. Get outta here! I immediately placed my order, as did my fellow anchovy lover sitting across from me. His wife chose something else; a decision she would soon regret.

This dish was just incredible. It was so good that the next night, when we discovered our preferred restaurant was unexpectedly closed, we high-tailed it over to the previous night’s restaurant to enjoy another round of fried sage.

Salvia Fritti

The restaurant version

Happy to get a table and eager to taste these delightful treats, we could hardly wait to place 3 orders for Salvia Fritii. That’s when it happened. Our waiter told us that they had just served the last of the tasty delicacies. The 3 of us gasped so loudly that the restaurant’s other diners must have thought we had just received terrible news. Well, in fact we had. To be sure, we enjoyed our dinner but, all the while, we knew that we wouldn’t be served salvia fritti again during our holiday. That’s when I decided to make them at home. So, I asked the waiter how they were made and, this trip, along with a change in my pea cooking ways, I brought home today’s recipe for fried sage.

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This is such an easy recipe that It’s hardly worth its own post and if it weren’t for the photos I’ll be sharing, I would have combined this dish with another. You see, to make this dish, all you need do is place some anchovies between 2 sage leaves and coat them with batter before deep frying until golden brown. The only thing to consider is the thickness of the batter. As you can see in the photo, we were served sage that was coated with a thick batter. My batter, however, was a bit thinner and, therefore, crisper after frying. The choice is yours. If you’re unsure, start with a thicker batter, fry a couple, sample, and then adjust with more sparkling water, if needed. Don’t worry about the sampling. Just like when cooking bacon, sampling is to be expected.

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Fried Sage 1*     *     *

Fried Sage Recipe

Ingredients

  • Large fresh sage leaves
  • anchovies (see Notes)
  • 3/4 cup AP flour
  • 1/4 corn starch (see Notes)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg, slightly beaten
  • sparkling/carbonated water
  • olive oil or a substitute for frying

Directions

  1. Prepare the batter:
    • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and salt.
    • Add the egg and then the water, whisking until a smooth batter results.
    • Set aside until needed.
  2. Pre-heat frying oil to 350˚ F (180˚ C).
  3. Pair the sage leaves according to size.
  4. Place anchovy fillet(s) in-between the 2 paired leaves. Use the palm of your hand to press the leaves together.
  5. Dip the sage “packets” into the batter and gently shake off the excess before placing in the hot oil. Repeat for the other packets though be careful not to overcrowd the pan.
  6. Fry until golden brown on both sides, turning each over once in the process.
  7. Remove from hot oil and drain on paper towels. Season lightly with salt. If working in batches, keep warm in a pre-heated 200˚ F (95˚ C) oven.
  8. Serve immediately.

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Salted AnchoviesSalt-packed anchovies, anyone?

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Notes

Anchovies are the biggest concern for this recipe. If you can find fresh, by all means use them. They will give this dish the best flavor possible. If, like me, you cannot find fresh anchovies — and believe me I’ve tried — your next best option is salt-packed anchovies. Though not the same as fresh, they are a very good second choice. Just be sure to rinse them very well before using. Whether you use fresh or salt-packed anchovies, be sure to clean them, removing the head if necessary, and to check for and remove the spine. If unable to find fresh or salt-packed anchovies, by all means use tins of anchovies packed in olive oil. The bottom line is that you really have to taste anchovies sandwiched between sage leaves, battered, and fried. It’s a simple as that.

You’ll notice I used cornstarch in my batter. I find that it makes things more crisp, Omit it if you disagree.

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What if you don’t like sage?

Fried AnchoviesWell, not very long ago, a group of us went to a restaurant owned by a winner of America’s Top Chef. While there, we were served deep-fried anchovies. Can I get a “YUM!”? That dish is recreated here, using the same batter that was used for the sage. Just batter the fillets and fry them. Be sure to make extra, though. The kitchen elves love them and tend to snack on a few during the cooking process.

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Now, on to the Republic of San Marino

After a far too brief stay in Bologna, I rented a car and drove to Rimini before turning towards the Apennines and the Republic of San Marino. Founded in 301 CE and only 24 sq mi (64 km2), San Marino lays claim to being the world’s oldest republic. {In comparison, Chicago is 228 sq mi (591 km2).} The city of San Marino is located atop Mount Titan, Monte Titano, offering beautiful views of the surrounding countryside and, to the East, Rimini and the Adriatic Coast. I truly regret losing those photos but feel very lucky that the most valuable ones, those of my family, were saved

San Marino

San Marino’s Municipalities,                             I Castelli del San Marino,                             (Source: Wikipedia)

As small as it is, the country is divided into 9 districts called castelli, castles, including the city and capital, San Marino. My Zia lives in the municipality called Domagnono and our family owned a farm in the Castello di Montegiardino. Don’t let what appears to be relatively short distances between the locales fool you. The country sits atop the Apennines and the terrain is hilly, at best. My cousins, and especially my Zia, were fearless behind the wheels of their cars, day or night. I, on the other hand, white knuckled it on the way into — or was it “up to”? — and out of — “down from”? — the Republic. (Have I mentioned my fear of heights?) They all did their best to show me all the country’s sites, as well as those places having special meaning for my family. We even managed to spend an afternoon at the beach, having dinner with my cousin and her family at their beach-front restaurant in the coastal village of Riccione, a suburb of Rimini.

Before I knew it, I was packing up the car and driving to Florence. (Unbeknownst to my family, the flat owners were already calling me for an estimated arrival time.) I did promise them all, however, that I would be returning, hopefully with a sibling or two in tow. Guaranteed, it won’t take another 40 years to do it!

Here, then, are a few of the photos from this leg of the journey. Forgive the poor quality but these are quite literally some of the only photos of the countryside that I have.

(Click to enlarge any/all photos)

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The government occupies part of the old fortress atop Monte Titano, and there’s a walk that will take you up along the old wall to the tower, giving you spectacular views of the countryside. Along with the castle, you’ll also find a church and a museum on the mountaintop, while much of the surrounding area is devoted to the tourist trade. At one time, collectors the World-over flocked to San Marino to purchase the Republic’s postage stamps. With the advent of email and social media, however, the stamp market and its tourist industry have fallen on hard times. Looking around town — and ignoring the fantastic views — there’s not much to distinguish this tourist area from dozens around the globe except for one thing: the incline. These photos do not do it justice and I cannot imagine making my way around town when the streets are snow-covered in Winter.

By the way, see those 2 beige awnings in the lower left of the photo on the right? That was once a leather goods shop that my Zia and Zio owned and operated. When they retired, the hotel bought the space and, after some renovations, it now serves as the hotel’s main entrance.

S. Marino Tourist Area*     *     *

During WW2, as the Allies worked their way up the Italian peninsula, the people of the region took refuge in the area’s railroad tunnels that had been dug through the mountains. Here is one such tunnel in which a couple thousand people lived, along with their farm animals for months until the War had moved further North and they could safely return home. Midway through, this tunnel has a large opening, providing the people back then some much-needed fresh air, and today, a beautiful view to Rimini and the Adriatic coast.

Tunnel and View*     *     *

Now for a bit of family history. Towards the end of San Marino’s participation in WW2, an Italian pilot was shot down over my Grandparents’ farm. They gave him shelter in a pit they dug under a large wood pile. (I was taught that it was under a chicken coop.) Using a rope, my Nonna would lower food and drink to him through a hole, at about 1:00 AM every night, until it was safe for him to come out of hiding — well over a month later. This picture shows what was once part of my family’s farmland. In the distance, on the left, is a white building. Before it is where the wood pile once was.

Zio's HideawayI bet you’re wondering what happened to the pilot. After the War, he stayed on at the farm and later married my Dad’s Sister. They eventually immigrated to New York City, where they raised their 3 children.

Next stop: Florence

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It’s déjà vu all over again …

couscous 2They sure took their time getting here but Summer temperatures have finally arrived. For me that means my stove and oven are used less as the temps rise. Today we’ll look back to a no-cook salad that has couscous as its base. Whether you serve it for a light lunch or tasty side, you won’t be disappointed. You can see the recipe by clicking HERE.

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Coming soon to a monitor near you …

Spaghetti alla ChitaraSpaghetti alla Chitarra all’Amatriciana

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141 thoughts on “A Souvenir from Florence: Fried Sage

  1. Wow. Sage anchovies it is! Can’t wait to test them out. Love the family history too. We to have a bit of Italian War history in our family and surrounds which I would like to share with you. Italian prisoners of war ended up on farms in South Africa during the war and one of them stayed on and married the farmer’s daughter – my cousin’s Great Granny. We also have a beautiful little river side camp site near to us which also has quaint old fishermen’s cottages on site. These now apparently hold historical status – also built by Italian POW. We are so grateful for this because it means that they cannot be renovated and they are so lovely that if that happened it would be a great shame.

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    • I’d no idea that Italian POWs were held in South Africa. Lucky for your cousin’s Great Granny. 🙂 Their story isn’t that much different than that of my Aunt & Uncle — and just as sweet. I, also, seem to recall that we had family friends who were POWs that stayed here after the War. I’ll have to ask my Zia, the family historian. Either way, these stories have always fascinated me.

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  2. A recipe, a flavour, a change … all the very best souvenirs John! The sage is now on my party list – along with the stuffed (and fried) olives I so loved in Venice. San Marino sounds achingly (sic) beautiful. 🙂

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    • I so agree, Meredith. I’ve enough “stuff”. Give me a good recipe to recreate once home and I’ll be very happy. As for San Marino, it really is a special place and my family could not have been more welcoming. It was the highpoint of my trip.

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      • Every time you mention it, I wonder what it must feel like, visiting family you don’t know, seeing places, even specific farms, and trees that your parents knew intimately … The remove, and the intimacy – it’s a recipe for a wonderful experience and I can see why San Marino was the high point of your trip, despite your week in Florence. 🙂

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  3. I am loving your trip news but those anchovy sage deep fried bits of heaven – YES PLEASE!!! I would sample every one I cooked which would leave everybody else gasping as you did in the restaurant.
    Have a beautiful day John.
    🙂 Mandy xo

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    • Thanks, Mandy. No joke. Be sure to have plenty of extra anchovies and sage on hand because, once fried, they’re irresistible. Our collective gasp startled our poor waiter, not to mention the neighboring tables. Of course, we immediately started laughing, which only further confused our fellow diners. Too funny — and we hadn’t even ordered our wine yet. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Conor. How my Zia and Zia met is one of my favorite family stories. Having heard it so many times as a child, it was really something to go to the farm and to be able to merge the site with the tale.

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  4. Great post John! I will be cooking salvia fritti – I love sage and anchovies, but wouldn’t have thought of doing them like this. Excellent family history and travelogue too 😉

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  5. been there and did have the fried yummy “stuff”… 🙂 don’t you already miss our “old Europe”, the land of your ancestors?… 😉 grazie e à presto, amico Gianni! 🙂

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      • I do feel and I’m sure you’ll come back… 😉 all our US-friends, even though Americans for several generations, with European roots, who have come to Europe once, they’ve always returned… buona notte e a presto, amico! 🙂

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  6. You know I don’t usually fry my food, but I just have to know how this tastes: have a big sage bush outside overwintering very nicely and have already found an on line site which does sell ‘your’ anchovies: hope I can make these ‘parcels’ half as appetizing in looks as you have! Methinks San Marino is scenically absolutely beautiful. I have never been on the Adriatic Coast bar north in Venice but friends have sent travel photos before . . . love that romantic castle photo atop Monte Titano in that perfect weather . . .

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    • I really don’t fry food either, Eha. (I say that with another fried recipe coming up soon.) The only frying I do now is for this blog. As much as I like fried foods, I just don’t prepare them anymore. I’m NOT giving up my pasta, though. 🙂
      I’d heard my Dad and his siblings talk of San Marino but seeing it was a dream come true. I’ve been in the mountains before but here, being on top of a mountain, the view was almost 360 degrees. Incredible!

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  7. What a brilliant idea for the sage leaves! Trying new foods and recreating them at home is definitely a wonderful part of travel. All the local food markets and grocery stores are also a favorite pastime. Glad you had such a good time and were able to share your new food find with all of us.

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    • “Brilliant” I couldn’t agree more. You could have knocked the 3 of us over with a feather, first when the waiter described them and, again, when we tasted them. It was the first I’d heard of sage and anchovies together like that. I agree, too, about hitting the markets. I never tire of checking them out.

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  8. Dear John, thank you so much for sharing your wonderful trip with us, the images make me homesick and are making me miss Europe so very much. What a wonderful little love story about the pilot, do you still keep in touch with that family in NYC?
    The fried sage and anchovies sure do make me want to break out the deep fryer! And you know how adverse I am to deep fried foods! I am definitely going to have to give these a try…we’re invited to a cottage soon and the theme is vacation foods so this lovely dish would certainly be a conversation starter and my sage is doing incredibly well in the garden – a double bonus! It’s the same group that we do the progressive dinners with and it’s our turn to bring the appetizer/hors d’oeuvres,

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    • Thank you, Eva. Believe me, it’s my pleasure sharing my trip and family history. I’m not as close with the NYC family as we were when Mon and Dad were with us. That’s quite a story, though, isn’t it? I still have a hard time accepting that I was there and saw where the fabled pit was dug and where Zio stayed. Unbelievable.
      I know what you mean about frying. It seems the only time I fry something now is for a blog post. As much as I enjoy fried foods, I’ve learned to do without. Just don’t take away my pasta! I hope you and your friends will enjoy these salty little fish packets. At least you’ll have the element of surprise in your favor. 🙂

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  9. I didn’t know that about your uncle.  Are you sure they wouldn’t let him up until he agreed to marry Adele? My sage plant died after this harsh winter.  Too bad cuz eventhough I dislike frying food, the anchovy/sage combination is enticing. Donna

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    • The story of Zio Nicola is one that I grew up with, Donna. He was such a great guy, too. It was really something to walk around the farm & village and connect the physical places with Dad’s tales. I can’t describe the sensation.
      To be honest, I don’t fry much at all. Normally, it’s for a recipe for the blog. These sage-anchovy bites, though, are really good. If and when I fry something, I’ll be sure to make a few of these. Why waste the oil? BTW, there’s another fried dish in queue.

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    • Thanks, Colline. That part of the trip was really special and I won’t soon forget it. It’s something like déjà vu. I’ve never been there but it sure seemed like I had because of Dad’s stories.

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  10. This is a wonderful recipe, And you are right, so simple. I am going to have to scout about for some anchovies first (definitely in a tin down here) and get out there and water the sage, great. And superb shots too, such beautiful views.. c

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    • I sure wish that import store hadn’t moved to the burbs, Celi. They had salted anchovies but I never bought them. Now, there’s only 1 store that I’ve found and the tin is huge! I’ll be eating anchovies for weeks. On the other hand, they sure do well in pasta. Like I need another reason to eat pasta. 🙂

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  11. Love the pictures and trip report! Keep ’em coming. 😉 Great recipe, too — I’ve heard of fried sage, but didn’t realize it involves anchovies. And I love anchovies! Will be trying this sometime (maybe skipping the sage entirely just so there’s more anchovy flavor!). Thanks.

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    • Thanks, John. I’ve had deep fried sage that was batter dipped but this was a first time with sage. I really did enjoy the combo. The 3 of us talked about that dish for the rest of the trip. It was just so unexpected. There are more pics to come. Florence is next.

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  12. I am just coming around to anchovies and I happen to have a lot of fresh sage and a tin of oil packed anchovies in the pantry at the moment. Hmmm. I just realized by looking at your map of San Marino that my friend who lives in Castello di Fiorentino in in that province! I’ve only been to Italy once and it was Rome, so really haven’t seen the country, but I’m so excited to have a better idea of where she is and what the region looks like. What a great story about your uncle! Such a fun and interesting post, John.

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    • You picked a good time to start liking anchovies, Betsy. 🙂
      What a coincidence, you having a friend in the Republic. We should go there together. You to visit your friend and me my family. The place is so small, we’d probably bump into each other just about every day. 🙂

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      • 🙂 That would be so fun! I’d love to go back some day. My friend married into an Italian family that has been in that region forever. Gironi is their last name, but I’m sure there are many Gironi’s.

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        • My family name is Amici. The place is so small that I bet she knows at least one member of my family, especially if they’ve been there “forever”. I was amazed how many stopped my Zia as we walked around San Marino. Incredibly, a couple remembered my Dad, who left there in 1936!!! It was a remarkable trip, to say the least.

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  13. What do you mean ‘everyone’s tried fried sage as a garnish? This girl isn’t that fancy but now it’s going to be a feature in my house. And since I’ve somehow convinced my husband that anchovies won’t kill him I actually think this could be a hit. You do make it should so easy too.
    What wonderful stories you have and those photos are so enjoyable to look at. Can you just imagine living there in one of those castles? What a story about the downed pilot and the people living I tunnels. It’s impossible to imagine the hardships that people endured during that war.
    I’m chucking though about your relative’s driving…wondering whether they’re still chuckling saying to each other…”did you see his face when we took that corner on the hill?”

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    • I’ve a post coming up in a few weeks, Diane, that uses fried sage as a garnish. There’s really nothing special about it. Now, these stuffed sage leaves are another matter. They’re incredible!
      We are very fortunate that our country has been spared the ravages of modern warfare, though the Civil War was no walk in the park. We were well into the tunnel when my Zia told me of the people seeking refuge in it and other tunnels in the area. I was amazed, especially when she mentioned they brought their livestock. They’d have starved if they didn’t. And yes, their driving had me trying to force a smile, especially one night. I can laugh about it now but not then. I was so happy to get back to Zia’s house. You’ve no idea. You’re probably right, though. They’ve probably had a good laugh — or three — about my reaction since then. 🙂

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  14. I can just imagine your disappointment, John, but you certainly made up for it by demanding the recipe. 🙂 They look and sound delicious. I must first try to get hold of some sage leaves. 😕 I loved reading your bit of family history. So romantic. 🙂

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    • And it is such an easy recipe! It was funny, though, the way we gasped in unison. We’ve been chuckling about it ever since.
      The story of how my Zio entered our family is one of my favorites. Seeing the spot where he was hidden was an incredible experience.

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  16. Love anchovies but not sure I can get the ones packed in salt, definitely no fresh ones. Will have to settle for the ones in a tin.
    Beautiful scenery, glad you had a wonderful trip.

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    • Thanks, Norma. Yes, it was a wonderful trip and I’ve many memories to cherish. I was lucky to find salted anchovies. If I hadn’t, I would have used the ones packed in oil. These are too good not to try them. 🙂

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  17. A beautiful and delightful post, John. I have never seen sage leaves that big. They look so fresh and gorgeous. I like sage, but not anchovies :(. I like the idea of sandwiching with filling before frying. I have to come up with a substitute to make this delectable stuffed sage. Maybe very little amount of seasoned chicken meat? 🙂

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    • Those we were served in Florence were quite large, Fae, but I think it’s because their growing season is so much longer and with milder winters. I bought my sage plant at the farmers market, going from vendor to vendor, looking for a plant with the largest leaves. They weren’t as large as those in Florence but they worked just fine. I do like your idea of stuffing the leaves with chicken. I bet any poultry would work, Thanks for the inspiration.

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  18. Oh Yum – those look good – I think I can actually get my kids to try this – they will eat most fried anything! Of course I won’t mention the anchovies until after they have eaten them…

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  19. I am absolutely making those! And, thank goodness, this year (for the first time in many) I’ve got an overabundance of sage. Some friends of ours own a really good pizza place in Louisville and they make a plain battered anchovy (much like you reference) as a topping for their deconstructed Caesar salad. Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful trip and fascinating family history with us, John!

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    • You’re very welcome, Michelle. I’m glad that you enjoyed the post and stories. Our family’s little “farmer’s daughter” story is one of my favorites and I love to share it.
      I hope you do make these sage “packets”. They were such a surprise and we still talk about that dinner.

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  20. Sharing your post with anchovy lovers I know. I think your photos are wonderful and document your travels and eating ventures and I’m sorry you lost some pics but glad you have the ones with family. A terrific story about the pilot and your family farm and the outcome. I am traveling with you via your photographs, John. What a great trip. You definitely have to go back and take more photographs. I bet you wish you were still there.

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    • Thank you so much, Ruth, for your kind words, here and on your own blog. You’re very kind.
      Yes, it was a great trip and on so many levels. I am sorry to have lost so many photos but I still have the memories. Besides, I am definitely going back and I’ve asked my Sister to come along, too. Now, that will be a fun trip! 🙂

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  21. I’ve had batter fried sage, but never with anchovy – a wonderful idea to sandwich them between sage leaves. Thanks for the batter recipe as I’ve been searching for one to try out on my own sage plants. Love the story, particularly how your uncle became part of the family after surviving being shot down. San Marino is such a lovely part of the world.

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    • I’d heard so many stories of San Marino but little was said of its beauty. You said it best: “lovely”. It was a wonderful surprise and I thoroughly enjoyed my visit.
      I don’t kow who thought of frying sage and anchovies together but he deserves some sort of award. They’re such a great treat an so easy to throw together. My kind of dish.

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  22. I have loved sage since I was a little girl on the farm, especially in sausage or Thanksgiving stuffing. It was when we were in Italy I discovered it has many more applications, my favorite to date is Saltimbocca — I thank beautiful Italy for that. You have taken it a step further here and made fried anchovy sandwiches with it, which would be a fun appetizer. Good one, John.

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    • Thank you, Judy. When traveling. I love finding new dishes or new ways of serving familiar ingredients. Past trips to Italy introduced me to guanciale and a number of pastas, most of which I’ve already posted. This trip I learned to put sage and anchovies together and deep fry them. What a treat! I hope you and others do try them, just make extra. They tend to disappear.

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  23. I love crispy fried sage but have only had it cooked in olive oil and a little salted. Never battered. I give this a go for sure. The leaves on my sage plant are unusually large this year. This will be such a unique way of using them.

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    • Are you in for a treat! Large sage leaves will make the job so much easier fo you. Those in Florence were mammoth, as were the anchovies they used. The ones I made may have been smaller but they were every bit as flavorful. One thing is for certain, your dinner guests will be pleasantly surprised.

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  24. Oh John what a wonderful, wonderful post! Such am amazing way to cook sage and anchovies – I’ll be trying that this week for sure as I have sage going crazy in the garden and anchovies from Spain in the fridge. But oh, those San Marino photos and stories – how amazingly brave were your family during the war? Literally risking their lives and then the pilot became one of the family. So beautiful. And I think I’ve told you before that San Marino is special to me as I went just the once with my parents when I was only a year or so old with my English/Welsh grandparetns and Grandad bought Nanna an eternity ring for their 25th Wedding Anniversary which was left to me and I’m wearing it (as I always do) right now!

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    • Thank you so much, Tanya. You are going to love this antipasto. Believe me! Nonno died when I was very young and my contact with Nonna was very limited. I would love nothing more to talk about them about the War years — and so much more. It was something, though, to remember the stories that Dad told us as children, and to have them repeated by my Zia with vary little variation. And then to see those sites, like the woodpile, was an incredible experience. Love that you wear a ring that has such an emotional attachment for you and that it came from San Marino. Now when you look at it, maybe you’ll, also, remember my family’s tale of the farmer’s daughter and the pilot. 🙂

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  25. How delightful to hear more about your wonderful travel, John. I love seeing places that are deeply ingrained with the history of your family. And the story of your grandparents shielding and care for the Italian pilot is an amazing tidbit. How interesting that he married right into the family! I look forward to any more you plan to share. And I am quite intrigued with the sage. I have no idea if I’d really enjoy this or not. The flavors are so unlike anything I’ve ever had before, but it sounds so interesting! 🙂

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    • Thank you so much, Debra. It was an incredible experience to walk around and place the setting with the stories Dad told us. I saw the one room school – now a coffee shop — he and his friend would sneak out of, the little church, their farmhouse, etc. I learned, too, that Nonna and Nonno were the first to have “indoor plumbing” after the War. Everyone thought them crazy. Well, we know how that turned out. My Sis wants to join me when I return. It will be interesting to see what memories will be brought to life for her, since we all remember things a bit differently.
      If you like anchovies, you’re going to love this appetizer. Don’t worry about the anchovies being over-bearing. The sage and frying tend to play down the anchovy taste a bit. Do give it a go. 🙂

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  27. I love fried sage (so does Mr. N) but you have taken it to a whole new level. And I do believe you found a way that I will try anchovies! This looks and sounds delicious. I happen to have a crazy growing sage plant outside as well. It’s gone bananas this year. This will be a delicious way to put it to good use.
    Loved hearing about your trip. The countryside pictures are amazing. I cannot wait to get back there someday. I’m hoping in the next five years. We’ll see. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Kristy. That simple appetizer was one of our favorite dishes of the whole trip. And we still talk about it! Do gie it a try.The anchovy flavor is surprisingly muted during the frying. I do hope you can get back to Ital. I hope to return in 2016 and bring my Sister with me. This time, I’ll be more careful when uploading my photos. 🙂

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    • Thanks, Angeline. Wait until you try it. It’s been 2 months and we still talk about it. With all of the good food we enjoyed, deep fried sage with anchovies was the most memorable.

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  28. I groaned loudly when I read you missed out on being able to order the dish you most wanted. I hate it when that happens. I’m glad this is such an easy dish to reproduce at home. It looks like something that would be great served at a cocktail party. I love sage! I do love a story with a happy ending and I love your family’s war efforts. So many Italians immigrated to NYC. I went to Little Italy while I was there – the Italians have had great influence on the city’s food xx

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    • You should have heard us, Charlie, at the restaurant. Our collective gasp literally turned the heads of the restaurant’s other diners. That’s OK. I can make them for myself now. It’s hard for me to imagine what it must have been like to live in a war zone. I’m just glad my family survived relatively unscathed. So many weren’t so lucky.
      Many of our cities in the Northeast have sizable Italian communities. Besides New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh all have a “Little Italy”. We’ve one here, too, as well as one in the suburbs.

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  29. we were so close to each other! San Marino is between Marche and Romagna…my two homes
    I love fried sage but this is the first time I see them stuffed with anchovies…what a great idea!!!

    I have just returned home from Florence…after an amazing cloudy weekend with friends

    ciao

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    • Yes, that is close! How fortunate that you live so close that you can travel to Florence for a weekend. I really enjoyed my time in San Marino. The Rpublic and the surrounding countryside are so beautiful. I cannot wait to get back there but, next time, I’ll spend more time there. Who knows? Maybe I’ll find time to get to Marche. 🙂

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  30. I am just delighted that you are sharing your travels with us along with the family history. How incredibly interesting. So happy for you that you had the opportunity to make the trip and Yes, do not wait another 40 years until your next trip! 🙂 The fried sage leaves look wonderful!

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    • Thank you so much. My family’s “farmer’s daughter and the pilot” story is a personal favorite. Being able to go there and see the setting of the tale was quite an experience. I really hope to go back in a couple of years. I hope my Sister will join me next time. 🙂

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  31. Oh my. i love a good love story! And I think the sage leaves have their own love story, too! I grow sage and can’t wait to try this out. I’ll tell you though what I do, and it is also addicting. I take the leaves and individually fry them in butter in a saute pan. As the butter turns brown the sage leaves turn crisp. I then take them out and sprinkle them with coarse salt. These are totally dangerous, too! And will suffice if you have no anchovies. Love your tales, John!

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    • Thanks, Abbe. The tale of ow my Zia met her pilot husband is one that I love to tell. I’ve fried sage leaves in olive oil and used them as a garnish for a burned butter-sage sauce. I’ve never fried them in butter and ate them like that. I think I’m going to have to give it a try. By the time I’m done, my poor sage plant won’t know what hit it. 🙂

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  32. Oh so yummy indeed! I’m the only one at home who loves anchovies, but I’ll be making them anyway 🙂 I can take it one delicious step further- I have truffle anchovies!!
    Lovely story of your family, I’m glad it had a happy ending. It must have been quite moving to see where it all happened for yourself.

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    • Atta girl! If they don’t like them, too bad! That’s a perk of being the chief cook. You can make something even if you’re the only one that likes it. 😀
      It really was something to walk about places that Dad had talked about throughout my youth. It was almost like déjà vu but with an emotional component. What an experience!

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  33. Oh John – These are definitely worth their own post!! I LOVE sage and tolerate anchovies, whereas Bobby loves anchovies; therefore, I can see me picking some sage from the garden very soon and frying these babies up. You did a great job selling them that’s for sure. 🙂 Actually, like you, I have fried sage many times as a garnish for salad, pasta and such, but nothing like this. Look so good! Loved your trip/story of the Republic of San Marino. Thanks for sharing that and the fried sage recipe! Lucky you to have had the restaurant give you the recipe! (BTW – Tickled pink to have you visiting me again! :))

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, MJ. I’m glad that I “found’ you again, too. You may like this dish, even with the anchovies. They’re not as pronounced as you might think. Together, they sure are good. The 3 of us had dinner together last weekend and, once again, fried sage captured the conversation. It’s that good! 🙂

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  34. 1. I LOVE the story about the Italian pilot staying on your family’s farm and marrying your father’s sister. That would make a great movie.

    2. I have never cooked with fresh sage leaves, but I know my favourite husband would love these delicacies. He’ll gladly participate in my experiments.

    3. Great photos! It looks like you travelled through some gorgeous parts of the country.

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    • How many families have a farmer’s daughter story? The pilot, my Zio, was a great guy. One in a million.
      You will love cooking with fresh sage. I’ve a recipe coming up that uses them in brown butter for ravioli and again as a garnish. Yum! These here, though, left us all speechless. We absolutely loved them!!! I couldn’t wait to get home and try to make them for myself — well, that’s a bit of hyperbole. I was in Florence at the time and didn’t want to leave it, no matter what recipe I could try at home.
      I did see some beautiful landscapes. San Marino was far more beautiful than I thought. I still have a hard time accepting that I lost all of those photos. I’m already making plans to get back there in 2016. That part of the trip and reconnecting with my family were a highpoint of the trip, no doubt about it.

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  35. Bonjourno John! I am so trying this recipe. So simple and so delicious. I hope you shared at least one at the dinner… LOL By the way your version looks even better than the restaurants. I am sure that the POW’s that were fed at 1am were overjoyed about the food lowered down to them. He landed the jackpot as your family dishes are gorgeous and so glad to hear that he is doing well. I have always loved your posts but now I am just overjoyed by the great history and culture and stories to be told. Just shared! Have a super week. Take Care, BAM

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    • Buongiorno, BAM! You are going to love this recipe! It really did take us aback when we first tasted it. Now, it’s one of the things we most talk about whenever we mention the meals we enjoyed.
      Yes, my family’s “farmer’s daughter” tale is a personal favorite. It was really something to walk around that farm and to place the actual places with those that Dad had spoken about so many times. And to listen to Zia repeat the stories as we walked around was an experience I’ll never forget. I’m determined to get at least one of my siblings to return with me, They each need this experience.
      Thanks for leaving such a nice comment, BAM. I hope your week ahead is a good one, too.

      Like

      • Keeping the family experience alive and well is so important. I wish my mom would have been able to travel back to Italy but now her health would not permit that at 88 years old. the best I could do was take at least a million photos for her…at least maybe more. However, making her an inspired meal from Italy was the perfect way for her to experience a little bit of home without having to set foot on a plane. I am sure your stories and photos and meals you share with family are greatly appreciated and they can live the experience through you. I would loved to have seen the expression on Zia’s face. Take care, BAM

        Liked by 1 person

        • I had been dreaming of returning to Italy, BAM, but honestly believed it to be little more than a pipe dream. Returning and, best of all, becoming reacquainted with my family, was an experience I’ll never forget. I so want my siblings to join me next time. My Sis says she’s willing. I want them both to have that experience, walking around the places we’d heard Dad talk about so many times. It’s indescribable.

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