Sergio Baldassarre, founder of the Associazione Pokkoli, delights Pokkoli participants with his Italian language classes based on a system of his own design, "Survival Italian" and impromptu cooking lessons. He is an actor, playwright, poet, literary translator and video maker. He holds a degree in Modern Languages from the University of Rome and national secondary school teaching qualifications for English language and literature and Geography. He is a certified Glottodrama teacher.
Sergio Baldassarre's Videos
The Party’s Over, the new film short by Sergio Baldassarre was shown at the Cine club Detour in Rome on the 25 th October 2014. A hundred people came to enjoy the vision of this grotesque Italian comedy on the life of an Italian civil servant whose story represents the descending parabola of the middle class in Italy during the current times of recession and austerity. The film, inspired by some classic authors such as N.Gogol, F. Tozzi, H.Melville and F.Kafka, is ironical and very theatrical due to the fact that the 7 characters appearing in the film are played by two actors only: Sergio Baldassarre and Grace di Cagliari.
The next upcoming film short The Professor’s Teeth written and directed by Sergio Baldassarre is inspired by a short story “Le Parole” by F.Tozzi. In 2010 and 2011 our Association presented a theatre piece based on this story which is now going to be adapted for film. The two films The Party’s Over and The Professor’s Teeth are focused on social issues, work and education and present two heroes/anti heroes as victims of a repressive society. In The Party’s Over the protagonist succumbs to the rules of the establishment, in The Professors’Teeth the protagonist’s frustrations will lead him to express his rage against the establishment. The message of the two films can be synthesized in two phrases:
1) in our times, work makes you poor
2) sometimes education may drive you crazy.
The Professor’s Teeth will be available on you tube next autumn.
A third film short by Sergio Baldassarre is in elaboration. It is an ironical science fiction story about slavery, imprisonment ad redemption on a cosmic level, but you have to wait before seeing it.
And last but not least don't miss "The Soul of Place" An upcoming trailer for the new creative writing book by Linda Lappin!
Call them “Chiacchiere” “Bugie” -- chatter or lies! Call them frappe – or sfrappe –
the carnival speciality. Flaky fritters dusted with powdered sugar to give just a hint of sweetness.
Just days after Epiphany, the windows of the pasticcicerie
of Italy are filled with trays of this traditional carnival dessert -easy to make at home and very rewarding. To be enjoyed with a glass of spumante, prosecco – or even with a cup of rich bitter coffee.
The secret to preparing airy-light fritters is to use only a tiny bit of sugar in the dough itself so that the fritters absorb little oil as they fry.
Ingredients: 250 grams of flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter
3 tablespoons grappa, or: white wine or brandy
1 pinch baking powder
Oil for frying
Pour the flour in a large mixing bowl and make an indention in the center.
Add the other ingredients
Mix well till the batter is smooth and elastic
Roll out on floured surface as thin as you can make it
Using a pastry cutter, cut into strips two inches 3-4 inches wide and 6 -7 inches long
Heat oil in a frying pan. In Italy we use extra virgin olive oil but feel free to use whatever oil you have – sunflower, corn, or peanut
Within reach of your frying pan, have a tray spread with paper towels ready
Once the oil is hot, but not smoking, fry the strips of dough until they are
golden brown. You may need to turn them. But remember – they will burn
in a flash, so you must be quick.
Remove with tongs and place on tray with paper towels.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.
Sugo al Genovese con Involtini di Carne
a perfect recipe for a winter's day
Time moved slowly when I was a child. Especially on Sunday mornings in the winter, as I sat reading comic books in the kitchen in our house in Macerata where the windows were fogged over with steam from the pots bubbling on the stove. By noon I was already back from church, and had made my morning rounds. Even at age 8, I was an independent little person. On Sundays, after church, I liked to take a walk through town, stopping off at the newsstand to buy the latest Donald Duck, and then at the pastisserie to pick up the pastries served as dessert for Sunday lunch. Coming home, I’d find my mother in the kitchen, preparing lunch, which on Sundays usually meant pasta al sugo di pomodoro con involtini di carne or Sugo alla Genoese con involtini di carne, followed by salad, fruit, and pastries. The delicious smell of the food cooking and my mother’s reassuring presence made me feel happy and safe. Lunch would be ready at one o’clock when everyone would come back home from their morning strolls. The family would sit down to a wonderful but simple meal carefully prepared by my mother. Her sugo al pomodoro for the pasta could sometimes take hours and I was enlisted to help make sure it never burned or boiled over.
Preparing food in a traditional way requires attention and patience. Some things can be quick and simple – like a bruschetta – a thick, toasted slab of crusty bread, dribbled with pungent olive oil, seasoned with a pinch of salt and rubbed with a clove of garlic. Other dishes, instead, take time, like this one, a favourite recipe for Sunday lunch, perfect for a winter day: Sugo all Genovese
Con Involtini di Carne or Onion sauce in the Genovese style with involtini little meat rolls.
I don’t why this is called “Genovese.” My parents certainly weren’t from there – they were from the area of Naples. The Genovese are known for being thrifty people. Perhaps the secret of this recipe is that it yields a dish with a very rich flavor, created from humble and cheap ingredients
( onions). In addition, it allows you to prepare the first and second courses simultaneously, since the meat used to add flavor to the sauce is consumed as a second course.
Ingredients for 4
320 grams pasta corta ( rigatoni, penne, fusilli)
1 k. onions
3 T. olive oil
4 thin slices of veal or beef, approximately 80 gr, each
4 large fresh sage leaves
4 thin slices of gruyere
4 thin slices of prosciutto or ham
60 grams of grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup white wine
First, prepare the involtini
Place meat slices on a cutting board or plate.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper
Place the slice of ham on each piece of meat,
then place the cheese on top of that.
Put the sage leaves in the center of each slice.
Roll them up tightly and fasten them with string or toothpicks.
Be sure to fold over the ends and fasten them securely so
that the filling won’t seep out while the meat is cooking.
Now for the sauce. This is the hard part. Prepare to shed tears.
Chop onions finely.
Warm the oil in a heavy-bottomed sauce over medium high heat.
When the oil starts to sizzle, add the rolls of meat, turning them carefully so that
they brown on all sides without burning.
Add wine, stir, cook for a minute or two
Add onions along with 4-5 cups of water. The meat and onions must be covered by the liquid.
Turn down the burner to medium low. Cook for 25 minutes, checking now and then
to make sure the meat doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
After 25 -30 minutes remove the meat rolls. They should be tender to the fork.
Turn down the burner to low and continue cooking the onions for another 30 -35 minutes until they have completely disintegrated.
The contents in your pot will turn from a clear liquid with bits of onion floating in it to a smooth, thick sauce of brown caramel. When it reaches this consistency, put the meat back in the pot to keep it warm.
Now boil your water for pasta in another pot.
Remove meat rolls and put them aside, remembering to keep them covered.
Strain the pasta and pour it into the pot with the onion sauce.
Add parmesan and mix well. Serve immediately.
Serve the meat rolls as a second course, accompanied by salad and fresh bread.