Giardiniera: How to Pronounce It and More

It can be somewhat entertaining to watch the unfamiliar trying to spell or pronounce the word giardiniera. Fortunately, it’s easier to say than to spell. Don’t look at the spelling of the word, just say it, nice and easy: jar-din-AIR-ah. Some Chicagoans will drop that last syllable, saying something more like jar-din-AIR. It’s the same thing and it’s delicious.

This is the go-to condiment for Chicagoland lovers of Italian beef, Italian sausage, and meatball sandwiches, to say nothing of Italian submarine sandwiches, pizza and more.  Loosely translated the word means “from the garden” in Italian. You will find giardiniera in stores all over Italy, but it won’t be the same thing you find here. According to a Chicago Tribune article, what they call giardiniera consists of larger chunks of pickled vegetables, usually packed in vinegar and better suited to serving on a platter than on a sandwich. The Chicago variety, by comparison, is intended to be used as a condiment or relish. And while the veggies are indeed pickled, they are most often packed in oil.

What kind of veggies?  The recipe can vary greatly from one brand to another, but frequently includes hot and/or mild peppers, celery, carrots, pitted green olives, and other vegetables (cauliflower, pimento, etc.) mixed with a spice blend and covered in a stable salad oil. Most hot versions include sliced or chopped “sport” peppers, a variety of small, medium-hot chiles that are often found whole on a Chicago-style hot dog—but that’s a story for another time. Most times when we order an Italian beef sandwich with “hot peppers,” at least around here, the sandwich is served with hot giardiniera.

Here’s a quick tip: If you are applying hot giardiniera to your own sandwich, you can somewhat control the heat by regulating how much oil you allow to go on your food. The oil captures the oil-like compound capsaicin from the hot peppers. You want a little more heat? Let the oil go on your sandwich along with the veggies. Less heat? Let the oil run off before putting the veggies on your food. It’s all relative, though. Don’t expect miracles.

Outside of Chicagoland, you might not find many choices of giardiniera from which to choose. We don’t have that dilemma here. Quite the opposite, in fact,. As evidence we invite you to step into the giardiniera aisle at any of our Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Markets locations. There you will find an array of brands and varieties broad enough to satisfy any giardiniera lover’s appetite and quite possibly overwhelm the faint of heart.

We’ll make it easy for you, though. Try our very own La Bella Romana brand of hot or mild giardiniera. Packed exclusively for us and available only from Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Markets, our giardiniera is very flavorful and also provides a crunchier texture than do many other shelf brands, which tend to be a little soft from processing. Whether you’re new to giardiniera or a seasoned pro, give La Bella Romana a try. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

2018 Neighborhood Pioneer Award Presented to Angelo Caputo

Local entrepreneur and promoter Ron Onesti took some time out of his often-manic schedule last Saturday to recognize our own Angelo Caputo at Onesti’s Little Italy Fest-West in Addison, a four-day festival devoted to Chicagoland’s Italian-American culture and heritage. After bringing Angelo and his family up on stage, Ron presented the festival’s first-ever Neighborhood Pioneer Award in recognition of Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Markets‘ 60th year in business.

“When you define family business, this is definitely the epitome of family business,” Onesti proclaimed to the crowd gathered around the entertainment stage. “You walk into corporate headquarters, you’re greeted by granddaughters and grandsons, sons-in-law and it’s just a great family thing. It’s the essence of being Italian.” An assistant brought out the award, which Ron then presented to Angelo and his family amid cheers from the audience.

Ron Onesti has a long record as a staunch supporter of keeping the Italian-American culture strong.  Born on Taylor Street in Chicago’s Little Italy, he has spent many years supporting and representing numerous Italian-American causes and organizations. Through his company,  Onesti Entertainment Corporation, Ron has personally established multiple Italian-American festivals across the Chicago area.

When asked about the significance of this award, Ron responded, “This award has been established to recognize an individual who has come “from the neighborhood”, and that could be any neighborhood, and has risen to become a significant part of the economic fabric of the community. It is someone who has lived the American dream and has given back a hundredfold. The Angelo Caputo family epitomizes the very essence of what this award stands for.”

The award is now on display at Caputo’s corporate headquarters, where a number of Angelo’s family members work, just as Ron had described Saturday. Since Angelo’s retirement from full-time work, his daughter Antonella and son-in-law Robertino oversee the company, assisted by their sons and daughters in various capacities. As large as it has grown, Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Markets very much continues to be a family business and we, along with many others, gladly do not see that changing anytime soon.

The Angelo Caputo Family is grateful to Ron Onesti and his organization for this very special gesture of recognition.

Percoca!


As we continue to enjoy the summer season here in Chicagoland, it’s time to talk about the annual arrival of a delightful summer fruit grown exclusively for Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Markets by an Italian family farm in California. Percoca peaches are an Italian specialty variety of clingstone peach prized for their flavor and aroma. Like most cling peaches, the Percoca’s flavor and consistency make it ideal for canning, processing, and cooking but are also quite delicious when eaten fresh. For over 30 years, we have been doing business with the family-owned DePalma Farms, who grows Percoca peaches exclusively for Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Markets.

These peaches have a flavorful yellow flesh which can be enjoyed in many ways, after removing the stone. One such way, popular in many parts of Italy, is to place chunks or slices of Percoca peaches into a container and cover them with white or red wine. After allowing this combination to mingle and chill for a while, it is customary to sip the wine and eat the wine-drenched peaches. There are entire festivals in Italy dedicated to this simple yet delicious treat.

Our Percoca peaches are only available for a limited time each year. Please stop in soon to get yours!

 

There’s Something About Local Summer Fruit

Imagine sitting outside on a pleasant mid-summer evening, enjoying a handful of fresh strawberries, cherries, or grapes. Or slicing fresh peaches into a small pitcher and then pouring your favorite wine over the freshly cut fruit. Bite-size pieces of fresh cantaloupe wrapped in prosciutto?

This is a magical time of year at Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Markets, especially for lovers of fresh-picked fruit. Locally grown fruits and vegetables are in full swing now and we are at family farms in Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana to pick up fresh produce daily. These are the same family farms with which the Angelo Caputo Family has been dealing for decades. Because we buy directly from local family farmers and then sell the fresh produce to our customers, visiting any of our stores is like going to a farmers’ market, only without paying the premium prices!

Of course, our love of locally grown produce goes back a lot farther than that. When Angelo Caputo was growing up in Mola Di Bari, Italy, his family had a 25-acre farm site where they grew almond trees, olive trees, peaches trees, and St. John’s Bread (carob), as well as many different fresh vegetables. If you were to see Angelo’s backyard today, you would find peach trees, cherry trees, and fig trees, along with many fresh herbs.

This family learned many years ago that there is nothing quite like the experience of eating freshly picked summer produce. But you don’t have to take our word for it. Stop by today and see for yourself!

Like Nonna Used to Make: Amaretti

So much of traditional Italian family life seems to revolve around the family table. Meals are more than just opportunities to take sustenance. They are family gatherings, opportunities to share news, knowledge, emotions and more. These gatherings—and the food served there—have long been an integral part of the Italian family experience.

The more momentous the gathering, the more interesting the food one might expect to see. This is not to say that the coffee and biscotti put out for family visitors on a Sunday afternoon won’t be great, but food offerings are often tailored to fit the occasion, from an ordinary weekday meal to a major holiday feast.

Desserts also tend to become more memorable for bigger occasions. After all the other courses have been consumed, as the coffee comes out, so do the sweets. And just when you think you couldn’t eat another bite, those tempting sights and aromas convince you otherwise.

Romana Caputo was known for her amaretti, delicious Italian almond cookies that come in several shapes and varieties. Straight from the oven, they have a crisp exterior and a chewy inside that becomes crunchy over time. For any significant family event—baptisms, first communions, special occasions, holidays, etc.—Nonna Romana would make her amaretti, which everybody looked forward to eating.

Were Romana’s cookies that good? Over the years, many friends and family members would come to her, asking her to help them make cookies for their special occasions. Romana Caputo did in fact help them, sometimes making hundreds of pounds of cookies in her small home kitchen.

The amaretti—along with biscotti and fig, lemon, and chocolate spice cookies, to name a few—that we bake from scratch and sell under the La Bella Romana label at Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Markets are still the same cookies that Romana Caputo used to prepare with so much love and pride. That’s why we do not hesitate to put her name on them. Please try some and see for yourself.

A Perfected Family Tradition

You may be expecting us to say that the recipe for our famous homemade Italian sausage has gone unchanged for hundreds of years, but that would only be partially true. As has been the case in many Italian families, the original family recipes did not exist in written form but were handed down from one generation to the next in the kitchen. Young people learned the craft by observing and helping their parents, grandparents, and other relatives. This is why there are subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) variations between the same dishes as prepared by different members of the same family.

Of course when it comes to making Angelo’s Signature Italian Sausage for our customers, some of whom drive quite a few miles to get theirs, consistency becomes rather important. We couldn’t simply hope that the unwritten traditions handed down through the generations would translate to the same great tasting product day after day. Rather, we felt compelled to make it even better!

We begin with our old-world tradition of using hand-trimmed lean pork and mix in our private blend of aromatic spices and seasonings, developed expressly for this purpose. It has taken years of continually refining our art to reach this point and the result is a consistent sausage that’s bursting with flavor and will simply amaze your palate! We are confident you’ll enjoy our homemade Italian Sausage from the first bite! Get some on your grill today! 

What Do You Know About Jackfruit?

If you’ve visited the fresh produce department at any of Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Markets lately, you may have seen this extremely large, bumpy, green-yellowish fruit on display and wondered what it was. Jackfruit is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world. Jackfruit is relative of the mulberry, fig, and breadfruit. One mature jackfruit tree can bear 100 or more fruits in a year and each fruit can be 8 inches to 3 feet long and 6 to 20 inches wide, ranging in weight from 10 pounds to over 100 pounds.

The rind of a jackfruit is pale brown or green and covered with many little cone-like spikes. The inside contains edible bulbs that range from savory to sweet, depending on ripeness. Immature jackfruit is sometimes used as a meat substitute because its texture is somewhat like that of pulled pork. Being a fruit, however, it is high in carbohydrates and does not contain much protein.

By comparison, ripe jackfruit is sweet and bears an aroma similar to pineapple or banana. The sweet, yellow bulbs can be eaten as is or used in desserts, smoothies and more.

The seeds inside the bulbs are to be removed and can then be steamed or roasted. Raw seeds are not digestible due to the presence of a powerful trypsin inhibitor, which is broken down through cooking.

The inside of a jackfruit contains a gummy latex that will stick to your hands, utensils, and just about anything else. Rub your hands and knife blade with salad oil before cutting into the rind. If you opt to wear gloves, oil them as well or else they will stick and likely rip and tear. 

When digging out the edible bulbs, with well-oiled gloves or hands, go fo the healthy yellow bulbs. Avoid any areas that may have gone beyond ripe. They will be pinkish brown in color and the smell will be off, too. If working indoors, once you have harvested the bulbs and seeds, discard all the remains and remove them from the kitchen, as they will deteriorate quickly.

Nutritionally, jackfruit is a good source of antioxidants and fiber and is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium, and vitamin B6. Not surprisingly, jackfruit has been used in eastern medicine for years.

The following video, published by Wendi Phan on YouTube, provides a visual demonstration of how to open and eat a jackfruit.

60th Anniversary Charity Golf Outing A Win-Win

By all indications, our 60th Anniversary Charity Golf Outing, held June 26 at St. Andrews Golf and Country Club in West Chicago, was a success. Even mother nature cooperated by clearing out the torrential rains before we started. We even saw some sunshine as the day wore on.

During the reception that followed, Angelo Caputo’s Fresh Markets CEO Robertino Presta presented two checks for $12,500 each. Accepting on behalf of the Knights of Columbus Pope John Council 5732 was Grand Knight Gregory J Martucci. Accepting on behalf of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was Maria D’Alessio, Volunteer Development Representative-Midwest Region of ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude’s.

This event was made possible by the generosity of our vendor community. We are grateful for the ongoing relationships that we enjoy with our vendor partners and look forward to our continued mutual success.