Art & Culture

July 19th, 2014  |  By Round Earth Media

Our Next Gen Zanna McKay looks into the ancient art of Italian liqueurs

This article was published by Zester Daily on July 17, 2014.

 

Travelers who spend more than a few weeks in Italy likely will find themselves around a local family’s dinner table, sipping homemade liqueur.

Initially invented for medicinal purposes by 13th-century Italian monks, liqueurs (liquore in Italian) have become a source of regional pride, with Italians still drinking and customizing those original recipes today.

 

In Montelupo, a small town located on the lush, hilly outskirts of Florence, a trio of Italian herbalists have spent the past 15 years sorting through the bounty of Tuscan gardens to create fresh, updated versions of this quintessential Italian drink

Round Earth Media’s Zanna K. McKay reported the story Tips To Create Fresh Liqueurs With A Tuscan Spirit for Zester Daily, read it HERE.

July 19th, 2014  |  By Round Earth Media

Tips To Create Fresh Liqueurs With A Tuscan Spirit

 

 

 

Travelers who spend more than a few weeks in Italy likely will find themselves around a local family’s dinner table, sipping homemade liqueur.

Initially invented for medicinal purposes by 13th-century Italian monks, liqueurs (liquore in Italian) have become a source of regional pride, with Italians still drinking and customizing those original recipes today.

In Montelupo, a small town located on the lush, hilly outskirts of Florence, a trio of Italian herbalists have spent the past 15 years sorting through the bounty of Tuscan gardens to create fresh, updated versions of this quintessential Italian drink.

The group, improbably called the Gruppo Micologico Naturalistico Empolese (Natural Mycological Group of Empoli), originally formed to go wild mushroom hunting. This being Tuscany, however, they quickly were drawn to the abundant wild herbs, flowers and fruit — lemons, kumquats and apricots – that thrive in their backyard gardens. That soon led the trio to developing liqueurs.

AUTHOR


Zanna McKay

Zanna K. McKay is a multimedia NextGen Reporter for Round Earth Media who divides her time between Italy and New York. Twitter: @bozannza

Limoncello, anise liqueur

Like all good Italians, founding members Pietro Terreni and Nicola Daraio grew up sipping anise liqueur at weddings and limoncello on visits to the Amalfi Coast. Member Andrea Heinisch, originally from Germany, enjoys limoncello and has been crafting variations of it since joining the group 10 years ago. For these three, making a liqueur presents a unique opportunity to be traditional and innovative at the same time.

Liqueur is typically made by infusing near-pure alcohol with natural flavors, then adding ingredients to sweeten the drink and dilute the alcohol content. Nearly every region in Italy produces a distinctive drink that uses local, seasonal fruits and herbs.

The simplicity of this basic liqueur recipe encourages creativity by even the most timid mixologist; and it is wonderfully adaptable to every environment and season.

Terreni sees the use of seasonal fruit as integral to the drink’s lingering aroma. “You have to pick your flavoring materials at the right moment,” he says, “because the summer sun and air all become part of the liqueur in the end.

“When I was little, we used to take fruit to our local pharmacy, where they would prepare it with pure spirits,” Terreni remembers. “Then, during winter when it got really cold, we would have a little glass of this liqueur with a few of the fruits or berries in it.”

Go natural

The group claims their liqueur blends retain their flavor and color longer than supermarket-made brands, because the group’s artisanal preparation methods call for the use of nonsynthetic flavors and colors. Natural ingredients hold up better once the bottles are opened. (Traditionally, Italians keep their liqueur in the freezer and pull it out when visitors arrive.)

Each member of the group has his or her own favorite recipes. For example, Daraio favors anything made with fennel (“good for digestion”) and a family recipe for orange-coffee liqueur. Heinisch has experimented with fruits as well as herbs that grow on her property. She recommends fresh mint (with about 1½ tablespoons of anise seeds), thyme (combine with 3 whole cloves, use equal measures of white wine and neutral alcohol and let it infuse for two months), rosemary (use white wine with 2 ounces of neutral alcohol, plus 2 teaspoons of lemon zest), and honey with a profusion of herbs (recipe below).

The three herbalists agree, however, that there is nothing quite like sipping homemade limoncello straight from the freezer after a leisurely lunch on a hot summer day. As the group surveyed the woods near Heinisch’s house, they contemplated ingredients for future concoctions, perhaps using rosehips and lavender. And that illustrates what makes a great liqueur: creativity, experimentation and locally grown ingredients.

Rather than sell what they make, the group exchanges batches — and recipes — with friends.

Tips from the experts

Advice for creating your own liqueur:

  1.  Use fruits, herbs and spices that are free of chemicals. It is best if these items are grown away from roads or grazing pastures, where they could be contaminated by vehicle exhaust, pesticides or animal waste.
  2.  Use ingredients that are in season, for maximum freshness.
  3.  Keep preparation areas and tools, including cutting boards, free of other flavors and chemicals. Jars and bottles should be made of glass and rinsed well. Make sure towels and filtering products (a cheesecloth or metal strainer are best) are cleansed of soap and bleach. (“When I first started,” Heinisch says, “I made the mistake of trying to filter with a regular, clean dish towel. The laundry soap dissolved with the alcohol, and the liqueur tasted like my soap.”)
  4.  Store liqueur in the freezer for best taste and texture.
  5.  In Italy, liqueur are usually made with 190-proof alcohol.

liqueur4

Cream of Wild Fennel Liqueur

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Yield: About 2 (0.75-liter) bottles

This recipe comes from Nicola Daraio, who brought it to Tuscany from the southern Italian resgion of Basilicata. It tastes like caramel. Substitute water for the dairy and it is more refreshing but a little less indulgent, suitable for the end of a particularly large meal. Total time does not include 3 days to infuse flavor.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups 190-proof Everclear or similar
  • Whole leaves and a few stalks of wild fennel; the leaves and stalks should just be covered by the alcohol
  • 4 cups pasteurized skim milk
  • 1 ⅔ cups sugar

Directions

  1. Wash and dry the wild fennel. Place the fennel in a glass jar with a cork or tight-fitting metal lid. Cover the fennel with the alcohol and let sit for three days.
  2. Put the milk and sugar in a steel pan, bring to a boil for about 5 minutes, then let cool.
  3. Filter the infused alcohol, mix with the milk-and-sugar mixture, place in a clean bottle, store in the freezer.

Lemon-Saffron Liqueur

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes (plus 15 days to infuse flavor)
Yield: About two quarts

Andrea Heinisch created her lemon-saffron version of limoncello as a winter counterpart to the traditional lemon-only recipe. The cinnamon and clove are classic holiday flavors, while the saffron balances out the tang of the lemons, creating a complex drink that warms you, even when poured straight from the freezer.

Ingredients

3 organic, in-season lemons
2 cups 190-proof Everclear or similar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 whole clove
10 threads of saffron

For the simple syrup:

1¼ cup sugar
2½ cups water

Directions

  1. Wash the lemons, then zest them, taking care to get only the yellow rind, as the white pith is bitter.
  2. Place lemon peels and spices in a glass jar with a cork or tight-fitting metal lid and add the alcohol.
  3. Infuse for eight days in a dry, dark place, gently shaking the jar once a day.
  4. Make the simple syrup by boiling the sugar and water until the sugar dissolves.
  5. After eight days, add the syrup to the alcohol and lemon peels. Let mixture sit for another eight days in a cool, dry, dark place continuing to gently shake the jar once a day.
  6. Filter, place in a clean bottle, store in the freezer.

 

Honey Herb Liqueur
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes (plus six days to infuse the herbs)
Total Time: 20 minutes (plus six day to infuse the herbs)
Yield: 2 (0.75-liter) bottles

Each Gruppo Micologico Naturalistico Empolese member has a variation of this liqueur, which recalls the drink’s original medicinal purpose. Consider this a boost for the immune system, with a sweet, herbal taste. As much as possible, use fresh herbs.

Ingredients

3½ cups 190-proof Everclear or similar
½ cup honey
6 basil leaves
5 St. John’s Wort leaves
6 culinary sage leaves
Leaves from 3 small stalks of rosemary
6 mint leaves
6 black tea leaves
6 lemon tree leaves
6 bay leaves
6 chamomile leaves
6 juniper berries
2 whole cloves
½ teaspoon saffron
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

For the simple syrup:

3½ cups water
3 cups sugar

Directions

  1. Wash the herbs carefully, place them in the alcohol for six days, turning the container a few times each day.
  2. After six days, make a simple syrup by heating the sugar and water until the sugar dissolves, then add the honey as the mixture cools.
  3. Mix the liqueur mixture and the simple syrup, filter the infused alcohol, place in a fresh bottle, store in the freezer.

Main photo: Cream of fennel, myrtle berry and saffron-lemon liqueurs, with lemon leaves and flowers, sprigs of wild fennel and myrtle leaves. Credit: Zanna McKay

Zanna K. McKay is a multimedia NextGen Reporter for Round Earth Media who divides her time between Italy and New York. Twitter: @bozannza

July 14th, 2014  |  By Round Earth Media

Eating with our Next Gen Tyler Kelley: knishes stuffed with stories.

This article was published by Zester Daily on July 2, 2014.

KnishesKnishes are packed with more than flaky, potatoey deliciousness. “The knish is really stuffed with stories,” said Laura Silver, author of the new book, “Knish: In Search of the Jewish Soul Food.” Her many pilgrimages on behalf of the knish — “a pillow of filling tucked into a skin of dough” — took Silver from Poland to Israel. But the story really began with Mrs. Stahl’s of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, the knish-maker her grandmother loved best. The shop’s demise in 2005 is what ignited Silver’s obsession to get inside this dense, satisfying “potato pie.”

One stop on her quest was the town of Knyszyn, Poland, home to Silver’s ancestors and some knishlore. There she heard the legend of a king who was traveling, tired and hungry, through a forest. He emerged in a hamlet where he was served a tasty dumpling called a knish. He liked it so much he named the place after it.

Round Earth Media’s Tyler J. Kelley reported the story of The Knish: Cute As A Dumpling And Filled With Tradition for Zester Daily, read it HERE.

 

July 14th, 2014  |  By Round Earth Media

The Knish: Cute As A Dumpling And Filled With Tradition

This article was published by Zester Daily on July 2, 2014.

Knishes

Knishes are packed with more than flaky, potatoey deliciousness. “The knish is really stuffed with stories,” said Laura Silver, author of the new book, “Knish: In Search of the Jewish Soul Food.” Her many pilgrimages on behalf of the knish — “a pillow of filling tucked into a skin of dough” — took Silver from Poland to Israel. But the story really began with Mrs. Stahl’s of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, the knish-maker her grandmother loved best. The shop’s demise in 2005 is what ignited Silver’s obsession to get inside this dense, satisfying “potato pie.”

One stop on her quest was the town of Knyszyn, Poland, home to Silver’s ancestors and some knishlore. There she heard the legend of a king who was traveling, tired and hungry, through a forest. He emerged in a hamlet where he was served a tasty dumpling called a knish. He liked it so much he named the place after it.

Tracing knish history

The food’s precise origin is unknown, and Silver speculates broadly, but the earliest mention places it somewhere between a Polish poem from 1614 and a Polish town with a knish-related name dating to 1347 (Knyszynlanded on the map later, in 1569). In present-day Poland, Silver concluded, the knish has disappeared. She carried pictures of the storied pastry with her in lieu of a translator, but no one recognized it.

Silver also learned that knishes weren’t necessarily a Jewish food; in early references they are filled with meat and eaten on All Saints’ Day, November 1. In fact, theknish was “severely underrepresented” among the stuffed-dough options she found in Israel. Apparently when Europe’s Jewish families emigrated to the New World, theknish went with them. It flourished in the first half of the 20th century, when it was a popular street food in New York’s teeming immigrant neighborhoods.

(more…)

May 28th, 2014  |  By Serenity Bolt

Event Recap: Mexico Uncovered

Credit: Erin Luhmann  Mary Stucky facilitating the discussion with Mexico Uncovered reporters via Skype.

Credit: Erin Luhmann
Mary Stucky facilitating the discussion with Mexico Uncovered reporters via Skype.

Thanks to all those who attended the Mexico Uncovered event we held at the Minneapolis Central Library on March 31st.

If weren’t able to come, we’ve packaged some audio highlights from the evening. Our team of journalists called in via Skype to share reflections on the radio stories they produced for top-tier media outlets. They embraced the Round Earth Media model – collaborating with a local journalist – and succeeded in capturing stories rich in sound, place and humanity.

An intro from Mary Stucky

Daniel Hernandez, host of the Mexico Uncovered radio documentary, is shifting the focus on Mexico from the war on drugs and immigration to its vibrant, evolving food culture. His reports unearth the cosmopolitan side of Mexico City. By the end of the night, he had the audience craving street food.

More from Hernandez here: 

Marlon Bishop, a contributing American reporter, shared how he immersed himself in Mexico’s automobile industry in 2013 for his PRI story, High-Tech Manufacturing Driving Mexican Economy. He highlighted that fact that despite economic growth in Mexico – a trend that has inspired a wave of reverse migration – more than half of the population remains below the poverty line, working in low-end jobs at maquiladoras, factories located in free trade zones in Mexico.

More from Bishop here: 

Mary Stucky also recognized Bishop’s first place National Headliner Award for his story published on PRI’s Studio 360, An Orchestra of Guns. He captured one artist’s vision to repurpose retired guns as instruments, to pay tribute the victims of gun violence in Mexico. Stucky explained that putting a new spin on an old narrative like gun violence is “exactly what Round Earth looks for.”

More from Bishop here: 

Monica Oritz Uribe, a contributing Mexican-American reporter, gave an update on Mexicans Returning from U.S. Find Challenges at Home, the story she published with Marketplace in January 2013. For the first time in 40 years, there are as many Mexicans going back to Mexico as there are coming to the U.S. She explored what assimilation looks like for youth born in the U.S who move south of the border.

Uribe also revealed a surprise encounter that happened through her reporting. In pursuit of a gang member to interview for a story she recently published with NPR’s ‘Borderland’ series, she discovered they were former classmates.

More from Uribe here: 

(more…)

May 27th, 2014  |  By Serenity Bolt

Soultana: ‘The Voice of Women’ Raps in Morocco

By MARY STUCKY

This article was published by PRI’s The World on February 20, 2013.

Credit: Shalea Harris Soultana (Youssra Oakuf), 27, was the first recognized female rapper in Morocco and is still one of the only women on stage. Soultana rose to international fame first as a member of the band, Tigresse Flow. Then, again, as a solo- artist in 2011 with her first single "Sawt Nssa", or "The Voice of Women," a rap against street harassment of Moroccan women. "The guy he can't, he can't, feel what I feel when I'm walking on the street. He can't feel that."

Credit: Shalea Harris
Soultana (Youssra Oakuf), 27, was the first recognized female rapper in Morocco and is still one of the only women on stage. Soultana rose to international fame first as a member of the band, Tigresse Flow. Then, again, as a solo- artist in 2011 with her first single “Sawt Nssa”, or “The Voice of Women,” a rap against street harassment of Moroccan women. “The guy he can’t, he can’t, feel what I feel when I’m walking on the street. He can’t feel that.”

Soultana and her band won Morocco’s biggest amateur music competition a few years back and promptly became the most recognized female rap group in Africa.

Soultana’s hit single “The Voice of Women” is her anthem.

(more…)

May 4th, 2014  |  By Serenity Bolt

From our young journalists in Italy — here’s a story they could uniquely report

In Milan, Clementino at the opening concert of his first Italy-wide tour, with a flat-brimmed New York Yankees cap and tattoos down his arms.  Photo: Zanna McKay

In Milan, Clementino at the opening concert of his first Italy-wide tour, with a flat-brimmed New York Yankees cap and tattoos down his arms. Photo: Zanna McKay

 

In Italy’s southern region of Campania, the youth unemployment rate is a whopping 48 percent. It’s something that rapper/hip-hop artist Clemente Maccaro — known as Clementino — tackles head on. He grew up near Naples in the Campania region, and that’s where his latest music video was filmed.  His song “O’ Vient” is about the desperate situation faced by Italian youth, especially those living in the south.

Round Earth’s Zanna McKay and Guia Baggi teamed up to bring Clementino’s message to audiences in the United States via PRI’s The World and in Italy via WIRED Magazine in Italian.

Click HERE for  Zanna’s story.

And HERE for Guia’s.

For more on Round Earth’s ground breaking partnership model — and more about Zanna and Guia —  click HERE.

 

 

April 17th, 2014  |  By Serenity Bolt

Thanks to all who attended the premier of “Willing to Break”

JP Keenan & Sutton Raphael at the Minneapolis St Paul International Film Festival after the premier of "Willing to Break"

JP Keenan & Sutton Raphael at the Minneapolis St Paul International Film Festival after the premier of “Willing to Break”

It was a sell-out theater for this and a slate of other short docs at the Minneapolis St Paul International Film Festival.  From the audience:  “What a fantastic film, kudos to the filmmakers.”  More from these young filmmakers soon and a huge shout out to their Moroccan journalism partner, Loubna Fouzar, and Prof. Khadija Zizi of the Institut Supérieur de l’Information et de la Communication in Rabat, Morocco.

It is through partnerships like this one with SIT Study Abroad that Round Earth is able to produce important news and information for top tier media around the world while mentoring next gen journalists.  More in our online magazine, Reporting Morocco.

 

April 2nd, 2014  |  By Serenity Bolt

Do Human Evolution and Islam Conflict in the Classroom?

By SADIA KHATRI

This article was published on April 01, 2014 by Al Fanar Media, an online publication that covers higher education in the Arab world. It was presented there under an agreement with The Chronicle

Rabat, Morocco—Hanging outside of Professor Touria Benazzour’s office is a cut out of a magazine portrait of Charles Darwin.

Benazzour put it up when she began teaching human evolution 25 years ago, one of the first professors to introduce the sensitive and controversial topic in a Moroccan classroom. Today, Benazzour teaches in the Master’s degree program at Mohammad V University, the capital’s oldest higher-education public institution. She claims her semester-long course on evolution is still the only one of its kind at a public university.

Reflecting on her students, Benazzour said, “They do want to know more, but whether they believe in it or not, I really don’t know.”

In terms of even hearing about evolution, Benazzour’s students are the exception. Most Moroccans today complete high school and college without coming across the name “Darwin” or the term “natural selection.” The avoidance of evolution, underscores a tension between Islam and science in one of the most liberal Muslim countries.

(more…)

April 1st, 2014  |  By Serenity Bolt

WOW! Look what’s happening at Round Earth!

Round Earth’s Documentary

Willing to Break

A Minneapolis St Paul International Film Festival Official Selection 

Monday, April 14, 7:00 pm 

mspiff14.willingtobreak.img_.still_.1-360x200-1

Willing to Break

 

Willing to Break explores the life of the only veiled break-dancer in Morocco and her perseverance in a counterculture dominated by men.
This film was produced and directed by a trio of impressive young journalists — Americans Sutton Raphael and JP Keenan in partnership with their Moroccan colleague Loubna Fouzar.   All were mentored by Round Earth’s veteran film-makers and journalists.
Raphael and Keenan will be in the Twin Cities for the premier of this powerful film.  Please come support them and see a short film you’ll never forget!

 Details HERE

 

Photo Sutton RaphelSutton Raphael is majoring in journalism at the University of Oregon and minoring in Arabic. He is an aspiring documentary filmmaker and plans to live in the Middle East after graduating.

Photo JP Keenan

JP Kennan is a documentary filmmaker and photographer studying at Ithaca College.  He is passionate about using the documentary medium to bring awareness to social issues.

Loubna Fouzar is a Moroccan journalism student who studies at Institut Supérieur de l’Information et de la Communication (ISIC) in Rabat.  

Wednesday, April 9th at 7:10 p.m. also at the MSP Intl Film Fest:  Who is Dayani Cristal?

Screen shot 2014-04-04 at 10.46.17 AM

Who is Dayani Cristal?

 

Round Earth is interested in your comments about this documentary film focused on migration from Central America to the United States.  The film starts beneath a cicada tree as Arizona border police discover a decomposing male body. Lifting a tattered T-shirt, they expose a tattoo that reads “Dayani Cristal.” Who is this person? What brought him here? How did he die? And who—or what—is Dayani Cristal?   As the forensic investigation unfolds, Mexican actor and Gael Garcia Bernal retraces this man’s steps along the migrant trail in Central America.

Details HERE

Please stay after the film for a discussion and lend us your insight into the subject of one of our next reporting projects: migration from Mexico and Central America.

First Place National Headliner Award for Mexico Uncovered Story

pedro_reyes_electric_guitar_made_from_guns

Photo: Electric Guitar by Pedro Reyes (Courtesy of Lisson Gallery, London; Photograph © Ken Adlard)

We are very pleased to announce that Marlon Bishop’s amazing story, An Orchestra of Guns, produced as part of our project, Mexico Uncovered, received a first place National Headliner Award this week.  This award recognizes outstanding print and broadcast work and is one of the oldest and largest annual contests recognizing journalistic excellence. Congratulations, Marlon!

Marlon’s story focused on Mexico City artist Pedro Reyes, who converted thousands of  weapons seized by the government into musical instruments. The project, titled Imagine, has so far produced 50 working instruments ranging from pistol-flutes to shotgun-zithers, with more being churned out all the time.

Reyes and a team of machinists and musicians have been working long hours in his Mexico City workshop to build the instruments.  In Spring 2013,  he put on a major concert with music commissioned for the instruments in the UK. Proceeds from the event went to support gun control legislation in the US – the source of almost all of Mexico’s illegal weapons. We visit Reyes and his workshop and look at the symbolism of what he’s creating.  More on Marlon’s story and our project, Mexico Uncovered, here: www.MexicoUncovered.org

 

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