One of my earliest mementos of seeing and savoring Italy was through a terra cotta plate by Buon Ricordo, a union of restaurants that thought to preserve the food traditions of regional Italian food by designing plates that represent the culinary specialties of each member restaurant. Buon Ricordo (“good memory”) wanted to create a souvenir of a memorable meal with a collection of hand-painted plates diners would associate with the hospitality and authenticity of the specialty of the house.
Plate designs are both whimsical and evocative of the flavors,colors and landscape of regional Italian food and range from the polenta e osei of Bergamo at La Pergola to the saltimbocca alla Romana of Rome at Ristorante Severino. Some plates were only released during a certain span of years and now retired. My plate ( circa 1999) was from a memorable meal with my cousins in the town of Valeggio sul Mincio at Ristorante Lepre. We had papparadelle con lepre (papparadelle with hare) and a plate of tortelloni which was commemorated in terra cotta.
The association should be renamed Buonissimo Ricordo because the memories I have of that afternoon around the table with our Italy family celebrating food and friendship are the best.