April 13, 2014

Carrot Baked Oatmeal

These, friends, are days of planning and chaos. Days of looking forward, living in anticipation, projected towards what we have planned and wished for us; and days that are all about the present, about proceeding with my eyes focused on my feet. Changes are happening, and sometimes, the thought of lifting my eyes and seeing the unknown paralyses me.

I am trying to stay positive, though, and hopeful. It takes a huge leap of courage to make change happen in life, even when we aren't completely happy with the way it is going. And I am learning from this man sitting next to me, that being content isn't just enough: that in this one life we get to live we need to be protagonists rather than spectators. I am learning that no change happens without a bit of thrill, and that fresh starts are never easy. I believe in these words he tells me, and I am proud of him for not wanting to settle down into something that doesn't represent him and make him feel worthwhile. No one should spend their life doing something that doesn't make them happy. I stand by this statement – it will be my mantra from now on.

April 7, 2014

Italian Table Talk: Easter Picnic with White Asparagus and Eggs

A beloved tradition takes place in Veneto, my region of origin, this time of the year, namely in the town of Bassano del Grappa. It is called 'sparasada' in dialect, and it consists in an abundant and convivial consumption of locally grown, fat and sweet white asparagus, dipped into an egg-y, oily sauce. It is a tradition linked to springtime, when asparagus come into season, and thus to Easter –litterally, a feast after the fast. A local saying indeed states:

Quando a Basan vien primavera,
se verze la cà e la sparasera!

[When springtime arrives in Bassano, 
people open their houses as well as their asparagus patch!] 

White asparagus are grown underground, protected from sunlight, to keep their pale hue. Those from Bassano are particularly sweet, thick and tender due to the soil composition as well as to the favorable microclimate. They have been grown in the area for centuries, celebrated through local fairs, and in recent time they have even obtained the certification of origin. Many works of art witness the presence of white asparagus in the area: a famous painting by Venetian artist Giovanbattista Piazzetta called “La Cena di Emmaus” clearly portraits a dish of white asparagus, prepared following the local tradition.

March 24, 2014

Pistachio Nut Milk

When evenings start to get a little bit brighter every day, and nature finally shows off its best outfit of flowers and colours, I am, simply put, much happier. Storing away the winter collection of wool jumpers in all shades of gray, thick black tights and tall boots; and unpacking my light trench coat, flats to be worn with bare feet, and pastel-colour blouses is as much a superficial ritual as it is vital – representing the tangible sign that the darkest and gloomiest part of the year is finally gone. When I was living in Italy, March was usually when this change was taking place. Now, not much so.

No complaints, London is truly beautiful this time of the year. All parks and front yards are in bloom, and daylight is abundant. Yet, as I wander around in owe, admiring the show of magnolias, daffodils and forsythias, I ache for the springtime I know and love to come for good, for the wind to turn balmy, and the sun to be truly warming.

February 24, 2014

Puntarelle Salad

“Aò, nun vedi che stai a fà un casino?" (Hey you, you are making a mess, don't you see?)

We were sharing the first course, a big plate of steaming, saucy tagliatelle al sugo d'involtino. Or trying at least, as I was failing in the attempt of splitting it: I stained the table cloth while trying to transfer a forkful of tagliatelle on my plate, and succeeded in creating a very intricate bundle. The waitress hurried toward us and promptly sorted things out – not without commenting on my poor performance. She stripped the two forks I was clumsily holding, and skillfully rolled the tagliatelle into two perfect portions. They were fantastic, of course, like the rest of the meal, of the day, of our stay in Rome.

We were lodging in a small apartment not far from the Vatican – or better said, not far from Bonci's pizza spot in Via della Meloria. On New Year's Eve we woke up to a bright, sunny, spring-like day, and made plans to take the metro to the Piramide, wander around Testaccio and Trastevere, and fit a good meal in between. "You must try Da Felice", a friend told us. We phoned and booked a table for a late lunch.

February 14, 2014

Spelt Orange Brioche with Maple Roasted Pears

A handful of days from our wedding, on January 7, 2012, I drove him to the airport. We had just come back from our honeymoon in Rome. In our initial intentions, it wasn’t supposed to be a honeymoon, but rather a New Year’s escape we booked way ahead. We found it convenient to simply change the name of the holiday, without actually changing its substance: a week exploring and eating, with visits to museums and monuments planned around lunch and dinner reservations.

I caught the flu right after we came back – actually, on our way back. I should have seen the bright side of this, but the idea of spending the rest of our so very precious days together at my parents’ home, with me drinking tea and sleeping on the couch, was still depressing. They went equally very fast.

The day of his departure, I drove him to the airport, bundled up in a rustic and puffy wool scarf my grandma had knitted me for Christmas, still very sick, and equally, deeply sad. His student visa has expired, and despite the marriage, my unemployment wasn’t going to grant him a permesso di soggiorno, or us a fresh start. We had everything planned out, though, and we were hopeful: The separation was going to be temporary, and very short – two months at the most. He was going to sort out the paperwork for my Green Card from the US, so that we could move together somewhere on the West Coast.

I really thought I could manage all this, - the separation, the awaiting, the unknown - but I was a mess the moment he passed security. Driving back, head numbed by fever and crying, runny nose, hazy eyes, I realized it was going to be fucking hard – every single day away from him was going to be a little torture, which no Skype call or long, heartfelt email was going to ease.