Mario taught us more in his few minute segment on GMA this morning than many current FN hosts teach us in an entire season of mediocre food shows.
He looked very robust as he showed us some Italian home-cooked recipes. The soup he did was based on leftover ingredients - a full bodied vegetable soup. The most important part of the soup is SWEATING the onions. Mario! You SO know what you're talking about! It almost doesn't matter what goes into the pot next, if you have a full flavored base. He adds the remaining vegetables, stock and liquid and then simmers it for 25 minutes.
This soup is thickened with bread that Mario has soaked in water and black pepper. (The black pepper isn't in the recipe on the website.) But think about it. How brilliant is that addition of pepper to the bread - adding a bit of punch, layering in some additional flavor - to a simple, simple recipe? I LOVE that idea. Mario is awesome in his knowledgeable-ness.
He also shows off a couple of other finished dishes. The radicchio looked like a wonderful accompaniment to a big Christmas main course. Mario talked about the Shrimp Marsala - Housewife Style and made a point of mentioning that, in Italy, "housewife" is a term of pride. It's "not a menial job. It's the most loved job."
I must say that Chris Cuomo did a better job hosting this segment than many actual food professionals would have. He had looked up the recipes and was able to comment on them in a well-informed way. He actually added something to the discourse. Mario served the soup with this very jazzy ladle.
He then expounded in a succinct few sentences on the geographical underpinnings of Sicilian cuisine. Mario pointed out that it's closer to North Africa than Milan, hence its reliance on currants, pine nuts, fennel and hot chilies in Sicilian cuisine.
We got all we needed this morning. We got a quick view of cuddly Mario, a couple of easy to make delicious recipes, and a bit of food history thrown in.