THE STORY: Soon after getting married I developed a taste for foods whose active ingredient was glycyrrhiza glabra–the chemical element lending its flavor to licorice and Nyquil. There was no licorice at my in-laws’ dinner table, they did not take a nip of Nyguil for a digestivo. Some mornings when I met my father-in-law at the house before our drive to the construction site, he poured me a cup of coffee, adding a few drops of Arrow Anisette to his. “Solo per odore,” he would say with a smile. “Just for the fragrance.” I knew Arrow was synonymous with rot-gut. He may have known too. If he did, he didn’t care. And at 6:15 a.m., somehow that fragrantized coffee hit the spot.
At holiday feasts my mother-in-law laid out sliced fennel to be enjoyed both before and during the meal. It was crunchy, it had a clean fresh taste.
Lately I’ve been stewing fennel. It’s a fast side dish (cooking time 30 minutes), aromatic and delicious.
THE NICHE: side dish
PREP TIME: 5 min
COOK TIME: 30 min
INGREDIENTS: fennel bulb, garlic cloves, sprig of rosemary, olive oil, salt and pepper
Wash and chop the fennel bulb. Then rinse it. In a flat pan gently sauté a couple cloves of garlic in olive oil. Toss the chopped fennel in the sautè and add fresh rosemary. Cover the pan and let it cook for ten minutes. Then uncover the pan and let your nose hover in the general vicinity. Prepare to be transported.
On low heat, the water from the rinsed fennel will probably be enough to get through 25-30 minutes of cooking. You’ll move the fennel, occasionally, lovingly, and add a few tablespoons of water if the saute starts to stick.
Good served warm. Or set it aside and bring it to the table at room temperature. Also good the next day–if you can keep from eating it all.