Costantino Caponangeli, plumber by profession, private detective by chance, is about to go from Pescara to Venice on a very delicate assignment: he must find his employer's wife, who has decided to take some time off from her family (husband and two sons) and is now reportedly living in the city on the lagoon. Costantino is dressed for the part and is trying to maintain his composure in the face of his mamma's behavior.
The scene is from the 1999 Italian movie Pane e Tulipani (Bread and Tulips). Mrs. Caponangeli has prepared some panini for her son's trip, wrapped them well and marked them on the outside, so he will know which package has what kind of filling: frittata, scamorza and mortadella (salame Milano is available for an additional panino, but he turns it down). Costantino is visibly annoyed at the public exposure (they are outside their apartment building), but ends up putting the voluminous package in his bag to make his mamma happy. Later on, we see him eating one of the panini.
Pane e Tulipani is not a movie about food, though the male protagonist (Fernando) works as a waiter and the fateful meeting with the movie heroine (Rosalba) occurs in the restaurant where he works. Still, the story is about nourishing relationships and how important those are. It is a movie with very Italian characters and, to top it all, it is set in the most beautiful city in the world, of which a more private, less touristy, side is shown, which (believe me) is not too far from the crowded famous places.
If I were Costantino I would go for panino con la scamorza, because it has one of my favorite kinds of cheese, especially when lightly smoked. In restaurant it is served grilled accompanied by roasted vegetables and it is divine (you may want to jot this down in preparation of your next trip to Italy). A panino con la frittata is something I make often for my husband, when we go on longish car trips. Differently from American sandwiches, Italian homemade panini are usually a simple combination of bread and one or two things to go with it (called companatico, something that is eaten with bread). So a panino con la frittata is just that: a roll with a small frittata inside. No sauce, no spread, nothing else. If you buy un panino at a paninoteca or a bar they usually have multiple ingredients, but I am pretty sure that Mrs. Caponangeli's panino con la frittata did not have any extra.
A small ciabatta roll is what I used in the rendition photographed here. I made the frittata using one whole egg and one egg white (for a lighter version). I beat them, then added a splash of milk and cooked the golden mixture in a cast-iron frying pan. Because the frittata is thin, I did not need to flip it. Cheese is often added to Italian frittata, especially if no other ingredient is used: this time I distributed small pieces of gruyère on the surface, which imparted zest to the end result.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the panino con la frittata audio file [mp3].
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You may also want to read my post on fare una frittata.