An Italian marble mortar with a wood pestle sits on the corner of my worktop. It’s for making traditional Pesto alla Genovese. Yes, with a mortar and pestle. I don’t use it much but it reminds me of the values of craft that are at the center of my love of cooking. Today I decided to use it to pound garlic in honor of my upcoming interview with Colman Andrews the man who wrote Catalan Cuisine in 1988, the seminal book in English about the complex and interesting culinary culture.
Allioli isn’t Aioli. Aioli contains eggs and is therefore a garlic mayonnaise. Allioli is what it says, garlic and oil pounded together by biceps more practiced than mine to become a miraculous intense paste of garlic held together by a whisper of oil. Think of the garlic paste you get at Zankou to go with your chicken and you get the idea. I pounded and added, pounded and added and came up with a passable Allioli. So far I’ve spread it on everything around me that’s even slightly edible. Best use of the day was spooned over Chicken Thigh Stew with Picada (another Catalan basic)…coming soon.