My relatives by marriage, and how lucky I was, am, and will always be. (When Tizi’s cousin Pierpaolo shakes my hand and says, Come va, cugino? How goes it, cousin? I sort of pinch myself. How did this happen?)Continue reading →
One of the delights in eating in Romagna (and I hazard to guess all over Italy) is the “misto.”
Where I come from, eating fish you usually get one thing. Your appetizer is one thing–a tartar, half a dozen oysters, a bowl of mussels. And your main course is usually one thing–fillet of whitefish, fillets of perch, a chunk of salmon or tuna or swordfish, some crab legs or a lobster tail. Want to taste something besides what’s on your plate? Poach a bite from your wife’s when she’s not looking. Continue reading →
So Tizi has it in for Burt Bacharach. We’re driving down to Rimini this morning, where we’ll visit the Grand Hotel, have some lunch, then go to the newly restored Fulgor movie theater to buy tickets to see the newly restored version of Fellini’s “Amarcord.” And we’re going to stock up on Jesuses at the Catholic shop today.
At the moment we’re sitting at one of the many stop lights between San Marino and Rimini. I tell her I have a song stuck in my head, “We’ve Only Just Begun.”
“Good God,” she says. “Why?”
“I thought of the song on our wedding anniversary,” I say. That was yesterday.
“What bull,” she says.
It is, in fact, a total load of bull. The song came to mind when I was in the bathroom a few days ago, thinking hopefully about one of the challenges of international travel–the time change, the change in diet and schedule, eating lunch when you usually eat breakfast, eating dinner when you usually eat lunch, eating a lot, I mean a lot more than usual. It’s a thorough-going alteration of your input-output regimen. And that morning, well, signs were finally pointing in the right direction, in the output department. Sitting there, feeling optimistic, I sang, “We’ve only just begun.” Continue reading →
They call it Bancomat over here. It’s fast. There’s no talking involved. You take the money and run. Yesterday I had to go to the bank in San Marino. In the bank. It’s difficult to get in there. And even harder to get out.
Just push the button, you think. No, it’s not that easy.
You’re standing outside the Cassa di Risparmio, in front of a security system that’s been in place, not just in San Marino but all over Italy, since local terrorism in the 1970’s. Next to the entrance is a panel of secure lockers where you’re supposed to stow any bags you’re carrying. The green push button activates a reinforced steel door, which opens and admits you into a secure cylinder. You step in. The door slides shut behind you. Continue reading →
So I had to get something. Buy something. My wife and I were on the ninth day of a ten-day stay in Italy. She had visited her cousin’s boutique in Pesaro. And her favorite shoe store and bookstore and her favorite herbalist in Rimini. And a great toy store in Bologna. And her scarf and headband lady in Santarcangelo. She was pretty loaded.
She asked me, “Don’t you need anything?”
That Thursday morning we were walking through the mercato in Borgo Maggiore, a village ten minutes up the mountain from our apartment in San Marino. It was the end of November. In two days I would be back in the classroom.Continue reading →
What got my attention was a BuzzFeed post I saw a few days ago. I would put it in the snarky-remarks-Europeans-make-about-Americans category.
Lots of snark. So much you need subcategories. What irritates Europeans about Americans who travel abroad, for example: Americans talk too loud, Americans tell what state they come from (people from Michigan, raise your hand!). Americans are polite, they smile all the time, they engage total strangers, like cashiers, in conversation. They are fastidious about finding trash cans. They require lots of ice. Continue reading →
The truth of the matter is, much of what I’m eating today is an excuse to consume olive oil. Salads with spiral-cut zucchini and arugula and tuna–it’s a dish that wants a generous anointing with extra virgin olive oil. Fava beans with chopped tomato–oh, yes, let there be oil. On a steak or a slab of fish, oil provides a definite enhancement. Last night, snacking lightly, I ate a chunk of bread leftover from lunch, giving it a drizzle of olive oil to soak into those dried dimples and crevices, topped with a few slices of mozzarella and leftover scraps of zucchini spirals.Continue reading →
My wife and I disagree. The question is not whether to use it. We’re both parsley positive. The issue is when, during cooking or added afterward as a garnish. I’m during, she’s after.
It has not always been thus. For many years we lived in perfect harmony, parsley-wise. Diced parsley was one of those first-things-first things, like diced or chopped onion-celery-carrot. Then one day a chef friend came to dinner. We must have had something long-cook on the stove, like a braised meat. He raised the lid and lowered his face to the pan. “Always add parsley near the end,” he said. “Cooked, parsley is bitter.” It was a pronouncement. He confirmed what my wife must have always sensed. He named it. And that was that. Continue reading →
“Canducci Tiziana.” That’s how they call my wife when it’s her turn. Last name first. We’re at the Repubblica di San Marino Instituto di Sicurezza Sociale (aka the hospital), where she’s here to see an orthopedic doc. A few weeks ago at the Bargello museum in Florence, while I was in the gallery at the top of the stairs, the one with Donatello’s David and Giambologna‘s Mercury, two fleet-footed guys, looking with new-found interest at theirs and other sculpted feet, while she was climbing the stairs to join me, something happened and she tumbled down six or eight steps, injuring a few of her appendages. To wit: a knee and a wrist. Continue reading →
A staple at the table around here is “erbe.” Google Translate says erbe means “herb” in English. Google Translate is entitled to its opinion. The word erbe covers a wide spectrum of green stuff. (Plug “cut the grass” into Google Translate and you get “tagliare l’erbe.”) Continue reading →
If you are eating in Romagna, you’re eating piada. Piada is the standard issue flat bread they bring to the table, usually hot off the griddle. Each eating establishment puts its own thumbprint on their piada (aka piadina, the affectionate diminutive)–ranging from flaky (frolla) to brittle. Continue reading →
One of my first recollections of grappa dates back more than thirty years. My wife and I joined a friend and her husband for dinner down in Villa Verucchio, at a place called Casa Zanni. One part butcher shop, nine parts restaurant, Zanni is known for its meats. That night, after warming up with tagliatelle al ragu, we probably had a mixed grill: castrato, which is a cut of young lamb, pork ribs, and sausage.
At the end of the meal Fiorenzo said he would like a digestivo, a “grappina,” a little grappa. The Italian diminutive makes just about anything seem attractive. I pictured a small glass, maybe the size of a thimble. Bring one for me too, I told the waiter. Continue reading →
Food so beautiful you can’t believe your eyes, food so good you can’t believe your tastebuds.
If you grow up and come of age at the dinner table in Michigan, the way I did, it can be hard to fathom the variety of foods in Italy.
For 40 some years now I’ve been plumbing those depths, coming up for air with a smile on my face, then diving deeper. In these next few blog posts, I’m going to try to warm up to this subject; in words and pictures, sharing some of the food fun we have when we come to Italy. Continue reading →