December 3, 2023 | Rome, Italy

Fritter away

By |2020-10-21T02:51:08+02:00October 20th, 2020|"Suzanne's Taste"|

ave you noticed during this strange and surreal time that when a guest is with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour (or on any political talk show) that the first response from an interviewee almost always begins with “So…”?

“So” may be the new “Well,” with which, I must confess, my cat Loulou’s ghostwriter (yours truly) begins just about every blog post.

Soup spoons-full into the pan…

So, here I am, late into month seven without friends or family, or even foes for that matter (anything would be welcome), and as the Talking Heads sing, And the days go by, and the water’s coming down…, because it is raining a bit in southern France, making the cherry tomatoes and basil very happy indeed.

So the days go by.

So this is what happened last week in the kitchen as I stared into a fridge of oddball bits and pieces from God knows what dish I concocted on what day of the week.

One tends to lose track, or at least this cat ghostwriter does.

So let us just suppose you’re busy doing something to help speed up the day, whether perusing the fridge (or looking at things in baskets or bins) in search of inspiration, and what you see is one lone, fairly large zucchini. Oh, and half an onion, and, (aha!) right next to that is a small but promising potato.

So… and this is where my childhood Texas origins kick in, as in memories of my mama making crisp, seasoned fresh sweet corn fritters out of anything she could find and cutting up fragrant lemons to squeeze over them.

So bingo! Into the bowl of the food processor went the zuke, the onion, and the potato, cut coarse (a lady would never chop “coarsely”), and in a wild moment of utter unbridled folly, a generous pinch of curry powder.

I mix all this together just long enough so that all is chopped into nice bits (as if headed for an omelet).

Into a medium size bowl goes the mixture, plus 2 tablespoons of flour (white, wheat, a blend, no matter), salt and pepper, 1 scant teaspoon of baking powder, and that nice pinch of curry. Mix, mix, mix until all feel at home. Then stir in one egg, and only one egg, to make it all hang together nicely.

Heat a wide skillet and brush generously with olive oil.

Drop the fritter mixture by soup spoons-fulls into the pan, flattening slightly as you would a croquette (a fritter is a croquette, but let’s not quibble.)

So here’s the thing; you can make fritters out of the phone book if you’re really hard up, but, of course, vegetables are a bit more appealing (pages don’t dissolve).

You can make fritters out of the phone book if you’re really hard up.

So the basics of frittering away are a medium-sized vegetable, 1 scant teaspoon of baking powder, salt and pepper, 2 tablespoons of any kind of flour and whatever seasoning you like – curry powder or fresh rosemary, parsley, cilantro, lemon thyme, little spring onions, chives, always chopped fine (not finely, even though I am a lady). You can experiment all you want, for seven more months if necessary, but I hope they’re not.

One final thought: don’t use tomatoes unless they are very green. But if your vegetable is firm, you can come up with all kinds of creative combos. Wonderful to be creative, but catch yourself if you’re about to use canned vegetables as they are often too wet (except for corn kernels, after being drained).

So no, canned peas are not allowed, okay?

Hey, how about fresh pumpkin-ginger-roasted hazelnut Halloween fritters? I’ll bet no one will say “boo” to those!

And no one will have a ghost of a chance to out-do your fab fritters… (okay, okay, I’ll stop). So there.

About the Author:

Suzanne Dunaway, a longtime major magazine writer and artist, is the author and illustrator of "Rome, At Home, The Spirit of La Cucina Romana in Your Own Kitchen" (Broadway Books) and "No Need To Knead, Handmade Italian Breads in 90 Minutes" (Hyperion). She taught cooking for 15 years privately and at cooking schools in Los Angeles, and now maintains a personal website and a blog. She divides her time between southern France and Italy.