Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Mangia, mangia...

I have been off line since we moved into the house in Azzate. We were supposed to have our phone line working and wait a couple weeks for Internet service. We have found out that our line is disconnected; the phone company will come to take a look at it, but only after the holidays are over. This week is Ferragosto, which means there is nothing open, no stores, no movie theaters, no bakeries, not much… Obviously, some stores stay open to profit from all of us who stay inland, but all major companies (gas, water, phone, etc) are on vacation. We will have to wait until the 23rd of August to get our line fixed; then we will have to wait for our modem to have access to the Internet. I am writing this on my computer, not knowing when it will post.
I have written a lot about all the little problems we face, but so far I have not mentioned what I enjoy most about Italy: FOOD. I know it is so ridiculously average to say that one loves Italian food, but… what is there not to like? I mean it! Starting with the simple but sophisticated pleasure that is the gelato, and going all the way up the wine list! We have had some fabulous meals! Just going to the market is like going to a museum, there are so many varieties of cheese, salami, proschiutto, and pasta, that it makes my head spin and my stomach growl.
Our first love (hands down) is gelato. There is a gelateria in every corner of every town, and they all boast to make their own ice cream. You have to understand this is not regular ice cream, I think it is more cream than ice!! The texture is so soft, and it just melts in your mouth… and the flavors! Frutti di bosco (forest fruit: all kind of berries), nocciola (hazelnut), pistachio, nutella, chocolate fondente (melted chocolate), panna (cream) flor de late (?), melon, lemon, strawberry, vanilla, etc. Each store varies its menu, but one thing is for sure, size wise they all give you gigantic servings. We always get the piccolo cono (small) and it comes with two flavors balancing on the cone, begging you to eat before it melts. Another great thing about gelaterias is that they are open all the time; they do not observe Italian regular schedules. You can get your ice cream first thing in the morning or at midnight. They do not close at lunch time, nor do they on Sundays. (I am guessing this is a summer schedule, when everyone gets ice cream at least once a day: old ladies, tie wearing executives, beautiful madonnas, and of course the ragazzi).
Pizza is just superb! 90% of the pizzas are made on wood burning ovens. They roll the dough so thin, and so fast, that if you blink, you miss it! then they spread a thin layer of tomato based sauce, freshly made, and then... the cheese (delicious, exquisite, full bodied cheese) and the topping of your liking!!! I thought I would be tired of pizza now, but I am still discovering all the different possibilities!
Cooking here is quite a pleasure, I don't know what it is, but I am falling in love all over again with the art of cooking. While I was in Spain visiting with our Colombian friends, I was very inspired by our friend Adriana, who was cooking for the whole gang and she did not worry about it for a second. The key (I know it is a big discovery for me, but an obvious fact for those of you who cook) is to use the freshest ingredients everyday. So simple! It took me 40 years to discover this simple fact... I am cooking like I pain: I mix the colors, and the flavors, depending on what feels right at the moment. I hope it lasts!!!!!

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