Hey Mambo/ Mambo Italiano

Today is Festa della Repubblica (or Republic Day for my non-Italian-speaking readers) in Italy. The date June 2nd became official as recently as 2000 (prior t that it was celebrated on the first Sunday in June. It is a national bank holiday (meaning businesses are closed, etc) commemorating the passing vote to establish a republic, a shift from monarchy rule following WW2.

The reigning monarch’s male descendants (the House of Savoy) were thus sent into exile. One died in Egypt, another in Portugal, and the last (while eventually permitted to reenter Italy) eventually renounced all claim to any throne. Today, celebrations are held across Italy with parades and ceremonies. Think Fourth of July/Independence Day for Americans.

To celebrate the occasion, I made this fresh Insalata Caprese (aka Caprese Salad) for dinner. Insalata Caprese holds its origins on the Isle of Capri in the Campania region of Italy in the ’50s tipping a slight nod to the colors of the Italian flag. Red tomatoes, white buffalo mozzarella, and fresh, green basil… A slight sprinkling of salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil… (as is traditional) simple in nature, but fresh and explosive in flavor.

For our dinner, I sliced a couple of fresh heirloom tomatoes and cow’s milk mozzarella (buffalo mozz was sadly no where nearly accessible), and chiffonaded some fresh, fragrant sweet basil. I arranged all of this in an alternating pattern and sprinkled it with some Himalayan salt and fresh, cracked black pepper. A final drizzle of some good olive oil completed the dish.

The dish itself was delicious, but a few sprinklings of balsamic vinegar made it truly sacrilegious and satisfying (thus cementing us as truly American since a traditional Caprese Salad doesn’t call for aceto balsamico). We of course enjoyed cannolis (not homemade, maybe one day!) for dessert!

If you’re interested in a more first-hand view of this day, this American blogger who calls Rome home now, wrote a great article you can read here. What are some of your favorite and unique incarnations of Insalata Caprese?

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