Posts about: Everyday Life

Food  |  Life

An abundance of time and apricots

It’s late June, and summer has long since arrived and settled in for the long haul here in Rome. When I initially sat down to write this post, just over a week ago, I started to write that we were at the point in the season where everything still felt exceedingly new and pleasant: The sun on my back as I walked down the...

Life

The merits of extreme procrastination, holiday edition

Here’s a confession: I leave my Christmas shopping really, really late every year. I think I’m actually getting worse as time goes on, because last year at this time there were wrapped gifts sitting under the tree and I had already turned my attention to the somewhat anxiety-inducing question of the Christmas dinner menu. This year, with a grand total of three days to go until Christmas, I only...

Food  |  Travel

A return to routine (and a recipe for a cake)

Rome in August: Envision a ghost town, a city empty except for throngs of red-faced tourists fanning themselves with maps. Envision closed stores, closed restaurants, closed coffee bars; metal serrande pulled down tightly over doors and vast swaths of empty parking spaces where it's normally impossible to park. The best way to enjoy Rome in August is to get out of Rome in August. We managed to escape the city for most of the month. First we drove down south to Sicily, where a beach or a sizeable serving...

Travel

A birthday, a boat and some islands

How do you fill the empty space that inevitably takes over the days after the best week ever is over and done with? You can mope around the apartment, hot and dark with all the shutters closed against the force of the summer sun. You can throw yourself back into cooking and trips to the market, optimistically try out new recipes, then regret turning on the oven. And you can sit...

Life

Holiday tradition, looking back and forward

The Christmas lights have been going up all around Rome. I first spotted a lone tinsel-draped tree standing defiantly in a shop window in mid-November and thought, huh, that’s oddly early this year, and then the decorations started gaining momentum and spreading steadily through the city until one day it was undeniable. The holidays had arrived. So here we are: December. On the first day of the month, embracing one of the few holiday traditions that I actually look forward to, I headed to one of my...

Life

Horror story without an ending

I found it just after lunch, a seemingly insignificant brownish shape on the floor behind the table, right next to the baseboard. It was a leaf, I assumed, blown in from outside. Possibly a scrap of dark paper. I swooped down to pick up and dispose of it, then stopped. Something was wrong. This was not a leaf. This was rather three-dimensional, more defined, more… leggy. This was a scorpion. There was a scorpion in my apartment. There was a short pause, maybe two seconds, although it felt much longer, during which my brain processed this discovery: First, a fleeting feeling of...

Life  |  Travel

The wrong side of the road

I was introduced to my adversary, a tiny white hatchback car, in a nondescript parking lot in front of a bland-looking low-rise office building. It would have been the most unremarkable, non-threatening encounter ever, had the parking lot not been in Ireland and the office building not an outpost of a car rental company. But, as it happened, I was about to rent the car for four days, which meant that I was also about to drive on the opposite side of the...

Food  |  Life

Despair and frustration at the supermarket: A rant

I had intended to write about something reasonably interesting to break my months-long silence here, but as I’ve just come back from the supermarket, and, as usual, am feeling irritable after the experience, I’ve decided to write about that instead. Grocery shopping is decidedly un-glamerous, but as it’s also unavoidable – and unavoidably frustrating, especially recently – I will write about it. I’m fortunate enough to have a supermarket just around the corner from my house, although calling it a “supermarket” actually feels like a fairly significant stretch of the word, since the whole thing occupies about the same amount of floor space as my apartment...

Life

Winter… inside the house

Let’s be honest: Rome is not exactly a wintery city. It’s known for long stretches of sunny days and its fierce summer heat, and maybe also for its equally fierce rainstorms, but it is not known for excessively cold weather or snow or anything else that would make its winter months remarkable in any way. Except, despite this, between December and March I am constantly, uncomfortably cold. I can deal with it being cold outside. This seems natural, and it’s easy enough to block out most of the cold with appropriate clothing. It’s...

Food  |  Life

Sugar and light

A few weeks ago the Christmas lights went up around the neighbourhood. This was a complicated, dangerous-looking process that involved workmen in fluorescent coveralls zig-zagging across the streets, strings of lights draped over their shoulders and trailing along behind them and ladders haphazardly propped up against buildings. One guy, cigarette clamped firmly between his teeth while teetering precariously at the top of a ladder, attempted to hook the lights onto various protrusions (lamp post; a wooden shutter;...

Food

I love cooking (sometimes): A confession from the kitchen

On Friday I ate one of the worst dinners in recent history, a dinner made terrible not by an incompetent restaurant or a disastrous recipe, but by the lack of food in my fridge and sheer laziness. I ate yogurt – plain yogurt, the thin, watery kind that's utterly unsatisfying at the best of times – and then, twenty minutes later, feeling ravenous all over again, I polished off a tiny bag of raw and therefore unpleasantly woody-tasting almonds originally destined for a cake and a small bowl of slightly stale breakfast cereal that I had shoved to the back...

Travel

Ponza and Palmarola in pictures

There's not much that I can tell you about the islands of Ponza and Palmarola. Or, rather, I could fill page after page with words about these islands, trying to describe the intense blues of the water; the way the cliffs, alternatively rust-coloured and chalky white, rise up straight out of that water and finish in dramatic points and swooping arches; the colourful little wooden boats buzzing around everywhere, full of tanned, relaxed vacationers – but really, pictures do a much better job of telling this story, of summing up the four wonderful days spent on a friend's yacht off...

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