A big fat lady just sat on my hat.

So, we celebrate Columbus Day here.  As I’ve mentioned, it’s not because I think he was a perfect man (there was only one of those.  We get His day off school, too), or because I think that his achievement brought unmitigated blessings to mankind.  Still and all, I’m glad to be on this continent, I’m glad to have a three-day weekend, and I love me some eye-talian food.

On the menu is bruschetta with various disgusting toppings that the kids won’t eat, mwa ha ha ha ha hahh (that was the sound of me contemplating eating it all myself), some kind of antipasto with those awful marinated vegetables I can’t get enough of, probably mussels or something, suppli, cannoli with cherries and shaved chocolate, and Italian ices.  It’s possible that some wine might leap into the shopping cart all by itself, too.

As you can see, this is a pretty Americanized Italian feast.  That’s just my way of sticking it to l’uomo.  Take that, Columbus!  If you’re such a hero, how come we’re not eating . . . well, I tried and tried to think of some kind of authentic Italian food which sounds gross, but I really couldn’t.  Maybe something with, like, ox brains or something?  The worst thing I had to eat in Rome was rabbit, and that was only kind of awful because we thought it was chicken, until we realized the legs were bending the wrong way.  Oh, and there were some kind of snack food that was exactly like biodegradable packing peanuts.  Those weren’t very good — or filling, which was terribly important for a student who was living on about 70 cents a day.

Anyway, here is my recipe for suppli, which is what we had for lunch most days in Rome (one semester in college).  They cost 800 – 1,000 lire each, a few years before they switched –sniff sniff– to the Euro.  Normally, I wouldn’t touch a recipe with a secondary recipe in it, but this one is worth it, believe me!

(photo source)


2 eggs
2 cups risotto (see recipe below)
4 oz. mozzarella in 1/2-inch cubes
3/4 cup bread crumbs
oil for frying
tomato sauce, if you like

Beat eggs lightly until just combined.

Add risotto and stir thoroughly, but do not mash rice.

If you want tomato sauce (this is how they were served in Rome), add it now – just enough to make it tomato-y, without thinning the mixture.

Form a ball about the size of a golf ball, make a little dent in it, stick a cube of cheese in the dent, and then add on another golf-ball sized lump of the rice mixture.  Form it all into a smooth egg shape.  Roll the whole thing in bread crumbs.  Do this until you use up all the rice mixture.

Refrigerate the balls for 30 minutes if you can, to make them easier to fry.

Heat oil to 375 degrees; preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Fry 4 or 5 balls at a time, about 5 minutes until they are golden brown.  The cheese inside should be melted.

Drain on paper towels, and keep the suppli warm in the oven while you are frying the rest — but these should be served pretty soon.


Risotto recipe:

7 cups chicken stock
4 Tbs butter
1/2 cup finely chopped onions
2 cups raw white rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 Tbs soft butter
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Set chicken stock to simmer in a pot.

In a large pan, melt 4 Tbs. butter – cook onions until soft but not brown.

Stir in raw rice and cook 1-2 minutes until the grains glisten and are opaque.

Pour in the wine and boil until wine is absorbed.

Add 2 cups of simmering stock and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until the liquid is almost absorbed.

Add 2 more cups of stock and cook until absorbed.

If the rice is not tender by this point, keep adding 1/2 cups of stock until it is tender.

Gently stir in the 4 Tbs soft butter and the grated cheese with a fork.


  1. Oh great, 8:00 AM and I’m hungry for dinner.

    This weekend I made French toast (that’s European, right?), grilled a steak, and fried up some peanut butter and banana sandwiches. That pretty much exhausts my repertoire.

    For I-talian we’ll need to order a pizza.

  2. Just had suppli yesterday for the first time at a very chi-chi party. Which, we are generally never guests at. I’m feeling so cultured.

  3. Oh. Starving now. Do you seriously go through all that cooking????? I love to cook, but let’s get real- don’t we all have about 39+ children? And have fridges and cupboards that are constantly bare? I’m so confused by how I’ve suddenly stumbled onto the Italian Julie/Julia blog.

    If you actually made all that food on your list for today I feel like a royal loser. For us? Hot dish. Again. That’s a casserole for those of you not from the midwest. But then, I’ve got a farm crew of men fresh (um, maybe not so fresh) from the combines to feed, and I’m not sure they’d appreciate suppli and antipasto. 😉

    You’re my new culinary hero. When can we come over for dinner????

    • Well, don’t think I cook like this every day! Yesterday is was hamburgers and chips, and the day before that, it was frozen chicken burgers and a different kind of chips.

  4. yum! They’re called arancini (little oranges) in Sicily, where some grated Romano will be mixed into the leftover risotto and saffron might be used instead of tomato for the color.

  5. We’ll just have to try a little suppli while we’re in Rome next week…neener neener neener. My kids made the connection that it’s Columbus day today & we fly to Spain tomorrow. They’re so much more with it than I am!;). Cool recipes.

  6. Looks delicious. For an easier version of risotto style rice, check out Lidia Bastianich’s web site for Cooking from the Heart of Italy on PBS. Her rice Lombardi style is a much easier way to make risotto. We love it and have almost weekly, and it is so close to risotto that you won’t know the difference. Enjoy!

  7. Yum!! And will you share your cannoli recipe, too?! I am dying to find one that it is possible to make while still, well, keeping my full-time-job as Mom and not having to spend all day as full-time-cook!

  8. I’m not sure that I can *not* make those. It may now be a matter of life or death. Sounds better than studying!

    (Oh, somebody gave my husband a reprint of the 1960’s Len Deighton Action cookbook (very fun, very 60’s, very good food), and now he’s VERY excited about his upcoming tripe-in-the-style-of-Normandy experiment. He convinced me to write it into the month’s menu plan and he talks about it every few days.)

    • Oh — “Christopher Columbus/ Whaddaya think of that? / A big fat lady/ just sat-on-my-hat.” I always have trouble with titles, and usually just throw something in at the last minute.

      • Oh! Didn’t know that one. “Sailed the Ocean Blue” I’d have got in a New York second.

        So here’s one for you – what comes after

        “Bright fine gold,
        Bright fine gold”?

        Answer –

        “Whangapeka, Tuapeka,
        Bright fine gold.”

        What? You didn’t know that one?

  9. I clearly remember the suppli you made at our TMC coffee house. I have not been able to duplicate your recipe. ever.
    Here in the Great White North we celebrate our Thanksgiving on this day. Columbus is not mentioned in our history books but most include the Vikings and a fewer still include St. Brendan’s voyage.

  10. Yum, Simcha. I’m so not one to make a recipe within a recipe, but this looks like one worth trying. Copying it out for a Friday dinner. And, btw, what is that you suppose that a recipe gets 19 comments and Catholic discussions of sterilization get 109? I think I need to get more controversial to up my numbers. (Um. Or not. I’ll leave that to you. You’re so good with those things.)

  11. We had something like this when I was in Italy also, only they called it “arancia” – presumably because it looks like an orange? Anyway, I’m really glad you posted this recipe… I hadn’t thought about this food in years, and the kids – especially the self-proclaimed “starchidairian” 9-yr-old who would never touch a real orange – will love it! Hmm… now I wonder if I can find any good hazelnut gelato served in a sweet roll – so much better than a cone!

  12. Can the risotto be made ahead? I ask because my energy tends to fade fast sometimes. I’d be more successful if I could cook it in stages…

  13. Thank you, I’ve just been searching for information about this subject for ages and yours is the greatest I have came upon so far. However, what concerning the bottom line? Are you sure concerning the supply?

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