GROWING UP IN a typical Southern Italian home, we didn’t eat a lot of rice. We preferred pasta, and my mother served it regularly as our staple carbohydrate. Once in a while, however, my mom would whip up a risotto, and I would pout through dinner, pushing it to the edges of my plate hoping my father would think I had eaten some.
My very special consolation prize was the dish made the second day with plenty of leftover risotto (thanks to me): rice balls. When I throw a party, my mother always arrives with a big platter of arancini, so they have gained a bit of a cult following amongst my friends. My mother learned this rice ball recipe from her sister, Maria, who still lives in Calabria.