Mynystreena Monday

“Mynystreena” is how M calls “la minestrina”, which equals to “minestra” (soup) + “ina” (diminutive suffix), a noodle soup that is the main course of the menu for babies, elderly people and sick people in Italy.

Italians underrate it. I understood it about a year ago, when a cold was making me feel so awful that I really needed one for dinner.

Those were the first days M and I were living together, and I really enjoyed (as I do now) working on my chef skills to surprise him.

[OT: Turns out that when an Italian girl leaves the boot-shaped country, she transforms into the stereotypical “cooking-wifey” kinda thing that she never was before. It’s like you wake up one day and you realize that overnight you grew an apron over your pjs. I don’t know, but I don’t hate it. I guess it’s some perverse kind of homesickness, which you don’t really feel otherwise, for anything else than the foods you’ve always eaten. /OT]

The Italian-chef-monster in me was a little uncomfortable offering M such a plebeian food, but I was too sick for nouvelle cuisine and I really needed some noodly soothing for my “broken bones” (that’s what we call the feeling of frailty that derives from a cold).

Minestrina is actually a tasty, warm, comforting, delish soup, but it’s one of those recipes of the Italian tradition that normally doesn’t make it through to dinner parties, fancy restaurants or prestigious cookbooks.
It’s not a secret or anything, it’s just a non-fancy, family food.

Its non-fanciness reaches the height when you don’t even bother preparing a nice chicken broth for the soup (I wasn’t going to, I was feeling too sick).
In fact, it is possible to cheat at preparing minestrina thanks to ace in the hole of the cooking-impaired: the cooking cube.

The mysterious tiny square of dried vegetables, meat, spices and who-knows-what-else (not-sure-I-want-to-know-after-all), solves ANY taste problem in ANY salty preparation. It’s always the way to go.

As far as fake-minestrina goes, here is the recipe: grab a cooking cube, dump it in a pot of water, let the water boil, dump noodles in and wait until they are “al dente” (no cheating on that, sorry).

When I mentioned I was gonna have a minestrina, that random Monday, and I also mentioned that it wasn’t gonna be the greatest food in the world, but just something warm and non pretentious, he said he’d give it a go. Little did I know that from that day on, Mondays would have been consecrated to Mynystreena, whose taste has been compared to the one of:

  • Liquid gold;
  • God’s tears;
  • Pure rays of sun;
  • 2 million pounds of magical stardust in every spoon.

He’s not normal, but next time you feel like eating something nice and easy to make, go for it and sell it as an Italian luscious dish. It actually becomes one, when you start sprinkling Parmigiano on it like there’s no tomorrow (not Parmesan, for God’s sake).



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