Posts about: Things I Eat

Food  |  Travel

Ovindoli: The great outdoors (and cool temperatures) at Rome’s doorstep

We had come to Ovindoli to escape. It was the beginning of August, and as is tradition, Rome was beginning to empty itself steadily, disgorging its residents in the annual exodus towards other, more appealing holiday destinations while sweaty tourists flowed in to take their place. A heatwave named Lucifer (Italians like to name their heatwaves) was also set to descend on the country, pushing temperatures up beyond the 40ºC mark and well beyond the possibility of tolerance. We headed for the mountains – not the taller, more famous peaks up North with the spectacular skiing in the winter and lush green...

Food  |  Travel

Sun, sea, and extremely spicy sausage: Venturing into Calabria

I had never heard of San Nicola Arcella when I agreed to spend nine days there. Neither, apparently, had anyone else. In the weeks leading up to the trip, I saw a lot of blank faces whenever I mentioned where I would be travelling. Friends, the barista preparing my morning cappuccino, even a guy who grew up in the same region – nobody seemed to know about this place. I quickly came to the conclusion that it would turn out to be either one of Italy’s best-kept secrets… or one of its secret shames. San Nicola Arcella is in Calabria, which at...

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 street, Saturdays at the beach, seeing the stonefruit and the first few watermelons showing up on the market tables. But, a week later, I’m ready to revise that statement slightly. While we haven’t exactly gotten to the...

Food

Cheese and pepper (and butter!?)

After the first bite comes the disappointment. There is a moment, maybe a second or two after you’ve just twirled up that first forkful of pasta and popped it into your mouth, when you realize it: This is not good. This is a mistake, a complete waste of carbohydrates. That’s what I thought as I stared down at the plate of cacio e pepe sitting in front of me on the starched white table cloth, a pile of ever-so-slightly overcooked noodles surrounded by a pool of watery, greasy sauce – unappetizing to look at, even less appetizing to eat. It tasted like butter, which had absolutely no business...

Food  |  Life

Ending 2016 at the table

January. I always feel vaguely divided about this month, torn between liking the freshness of a new year and feeling somehow let down by the fact that the cozy, festive initial part of winter is already over while the colder, bleaker part of the season will be settling in for the next few months. January means that it’s time to box up the decorations, to start being productive again, to stop buying industrial quantities of panettone and then demolishing it all within a couple of days, and, in general, to stop eating all the time – a feat that feels sort of like...

Food  |  Travel

A riot of colours: Photos from Ortigia’s vibrant market

I love a good market. This is not the same thing as saying that I love grocery shopping, because I generally don’t, particularly when it involves a rainy morning and an armload of too-heavy, clunky, very-nearly-waterlogged bags that I have to carry back to the apartment while juggling an umbrella. But markets in general are something I’ve always found fascinating and invigorating, particularly when I’m travelling and am free to browse my way through the stalls and buy frivolous things like slim wedges of strange cheeses and little jars of exotic jams without actually having to think about what to...

Food  |  Travel

Streets of food: Naples in a day

A few Saturdays ago, at 7:30am, I found myself sitting on a Frecciarossa train as it streaked towards Naples; Lazio blurring into Campania as green hills flashed by. I hadn’t eaten breakfast yet – just a quick cappuccino downed in the train station – and the edges of my mind still felt heavy with sleep, but I was already contemplating the pizza I would be eating for lunch and the sfogliatelle that would precede it, as one does during a spontaneous, food-motivated day trip to Naples. This would be my third such trip to the city (early train in, whirlwind morning and afternoon,...

Travel

Moments from a weekend on Procida

One: Lemon salad We were on the bus, jolting down a terrifyingly narrow street, when I learned how to make lemon salad. I was perched sideways on a slippery plastic bucket seat that made cracking noises whenever the bus hit a pothole or a poorly placed cobblestone, and Alessandro was wedged in the back with a young family. Like us, everyone on the bus was on their way to the beach and generally looking very relaxed and jovial in the way a person does when they know that they’re minutes from a lounge chair next to the sea. I can’t remember exactly...

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; someone’s washing line) while another guy halfheartedly steadied the ladder from below, periodically taking his hands off of it to yell directions while...

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...

Life

Dinner with Italians: The outsider’s cultural minefield

When you're living on your own, it's easy to forget just how much a social situation can call out and underline cultural differences, the kind of differences that tend to slide into the background during day-to-day life and then rear up conspicuously in group settings. Generally, it's the little things that tend to shout the loudest – subtleties, slight confusions; a mountain of tiny misunderstandings. And the best way to put these differences on show? Clearly, dinner at a restaurant with a large group of Italians. Let's start with the kisses. Nothing presents an environment more rife with opportunities for extreme social...

Food

In which I rhapsodize about a plate of spaghetti

The Italians have an old proverb which, roughly translated, means "he who eats alone, dies alone". If the large, jovial groups of families and friends I've seen dining at the city's restaurants are any indication, modern-day Italians still take this idiom fairly seriously. Obviously, given that I live alone, I have no qualms about eating by myself, but I do find that I get a few strange looks when I walk into a restaurant and shamelessly request un tavolo per uno. A girl can only cook so much before she just wants someone else to step up to the stove and cook...

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