Italian chicken & orzo

I have several friends who tried those mail-in DNA tests in the past few years – the ones where you mail in a saliva sample, typically to help track ancestry and trace genealogy – and I’ll admit I’m tempted to give it a try. I’m a huge history buff in general, and would love to learn more about my family’s own treks across the ocean.

Specifically, I’d like to find out whether I’m actually as Swedish and German as my parents claim because I’m pretty sure I’d make a really good Italian woman.

I identify very strongly with the love of food and family in Italian culture, and even more so with how they’re intertwined. It’s common for Italian families – the more extended, the better – to gather together for huge feasts on a regular basis. And traditional Italian fare is a celebration of local ingredients that come together in simple dishes designed to showcase the quality and freshness of those ingredients.

I absolutely adore the savory flavors found in traditional Italian cooking – the simpler and more rustic, the better. But while people in Italy are more prone to run to local markets to grab the best of their fresh ingredients, I’m more apt to take the best of what’s available in my pantry and fridge. (North Dakota’s a bit lacking in that Mediterranean climate this time of year.)

I saw a version of this on Pinterest and, as usual, made a few changes as I went along. When I took my first bite of this hearty, creamy chicken, veggie and pasta dish, the first thought that immediately popped into my head was “This is my food.” Not like I didn’t plan to share, but because both the cooking process and the end result were like all the things I love about food in one bowl.

I’m half Swedish and half German, but it seems as though the dishes that best represent me are Italian.

Maybe those or 23andMe tests can explain it.

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