Rachel Roddy’s recipe for apple strudel | A kitchen in Rome

There’s a history to this roly-poly sweet pastry as rich as the dough, and hands of all sizes will have fun making it

My mum jokes in all seriousness when she says that all my difficulties stem from the fact that she once told me I would never be good at making pastry because my hands are too warm. And, according to food writer Paola Bacchia’s mother Livia, her daughter’s hands were too small to stretch the dough for strudel, a recipe that connects her to Friuli Venezia Giulia, and to Monfalcone and Trieste.

The capital of the now Friuli Venezia Giulia region, Trieste is a city and port at the end of the narrow coastal strip that caps the Gulf of Trieste like a beret. It is underpinned by the Adriatic Sea and surrounded by Slovenia, with inhabitants the writer Jan Morris describes as “of many races, loyalties and histories”. Trieste has been argued and fought over for centuries: Rome colonised it; Venice intermittently occupied it; then, for hundreds of years, it was part of the Habsburg monarchy(and at one point the fourth largest city of the Austro-Hungarian empire after Vienna, Budapest and Prague, a great port and the end point of the Maritime Silk Road). It was at the end of the first world war, when the Habsburg empire collapsed, that conflict flared. The fact that Trieste was appended to newly unified Italy was contested by the newly formed Kingdom of Yugoslavia. That conflict was later compounded by fascism, the second world war and the cold war, and, for a short period under the United Nations’ free territory project, Trieste became an independent nation. Then, in 1954, it was handed back to Italy while its immediate surroundings became “then” Yugoslavia.

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