Gypsy Kitchens: Mare e Monti

San Marino doesn't have its own cuisine, per se, so we've been extra perceptive of menu trends and things they seem to particularly like. When I first saw "mare e monti" as an option on a pizza list and read that "sea and mountain" meant shrimp and mushroom, I felt that there was finally a pizza option designed just for me. No more sighing wistfully at Merlin's proscuitto e fungi pizza while cutting up my own protein-less variety. The combination has since popped up on every other pizza list, as well as pastas. It makes perfect sense that San Marino, with its views of the Adriatic and the Appenines, would embrace the combination as sort of a signature. So, for our first Sammarinese home cooked meal, we decided to try to make mare e monti ravioli.
We procured fresh pasta from the nearby grocery store, shrink wrapped wads of folded sheets most likely intended for lasagna. The plan was to make one batch of mare ravioli (shrimp and red pepper flakes), one batch of monti (mushroom and parsley) and then top them both with some sauteed tomato, basil and oil. As we lifted the pasta off of its styrofoam tray, we realized that it was too thick and, when wetted, didn't stick together at all. Definitely not ravioli material. The mushrooms were already diced and cooking, but we left the shrimp whole while we decided on a plan B.
Thinking back to our good ole eating-out-too-much NYC days, Merlin thought of the 'raviolo' he was once served. Basically, it was one single pocket of pasta, created simply be folding a sheet of pasta over its filling. Right up our alley! Unfortunately, fresh pasta doesn't come with instructions and neither of us quite knew how to get it right. Our sheets all got stuck together and we managed only a handful of large enough shreds. "We just won't put this on the blog," Merlin said to me as he struggled to tear apart a boiling hot cube of starch. Oops.
The thing is, our stomachs don't have eyes (hence, my love of cheap Indian). The shrimp were as sweet as their color had suggested (did you see how pink they were raw?) The pasta itself was delicious enough to make us stop cursing the day it was born and our filling and sauce were pretty darn perfect, if I do say so myself. Our mare e monti was a delicious failure of a meal.
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