Frittata con Rucola
The frittata isn’t fancy—though the word has a nice ratatata ring to it. There is also nothing particularly creative about the humble frittata. It is simply a dish made at the last minute for a hungry family, or carried to the beach for a convenient picnic.
In my case, it is usually a “meal” consumed in a frenzy after returning home from a long day at the beach, and a several hours on a public bus. Lately, I have been adding arugula because it grows wild like a weed in our garden, and given all of the time spent in beaches and busses, I can’t be bothered to grocery shop. We have literally been reduced to eating garden weeds and breakfast for dinner due to my housewifely negligence.. This week has been no different.
It is beach weather again on the Amalfi Coast. This means one thing in our house: absolute chaos. There really is no reason for this. It is just me and my husband, Giuseppe. We do not have small children. We do not have sensitive skin or weird dietary needs. We do not take lounge chairs, scuba gear, toys and tents with us to the beach. And yet every day that we head down to the coast from our mountain hamlet home in Agerola, unmitigated pandemonium ensues.
Usually this starts with Giuseppe snipping that he has can’t find his lip gloss- the watermelon one not the pineapple one (yes, Giuseppe a fifty year old heterosexual man, is addicted to the Italian equivalent of Lip Smackers). Then upon resolving lipstick gate, we find the bus to Positano does not come or is inevitably full.
When we finally do board a bus, a tourist in a Harley Davidson or Hard Rock Café T-shirt (it is always one of the two) tucked into and belted to his cargo shorts often gives Giuseppe a dirty look. Predictably Giuseppe screams in Neapolitan dialect “go take it up the ass,” as he pounds his exposed hairy, gold crucifix adorned chest. The redneck tourist (yes, we have them on the Amalfi Coast) usually whispers something to his wife about the Mafia. I hesitate to correct that if Giuseppe were in fact representing an organized crime syndicate it would be the Camorra and not the Mafia as we are in Napoli and not Sicilia.
Also Giuseppe is the kind of guy who spends his mornings searching for watermelon lip gloss and filing his finger nails, not polishing Berettas. But why spoil the story the well-intentioned Teva touting tourist will tell at barbecues in Knoxville about his real encounter with an Italian mob boss.
After all, the real bosses in our parts are the SITA bus drivers. These bad ass, enfants terribles of the Amalfi Coast honk, scream and careen down our hair pin turns pulling into Positano and leaving not just a few visitors sick to their stomachs upon hitting terra firma.
Inevitably after these journeys to Positano, I need a spritz or a Nicorette or a swim. Last week, after taking nearly four hours to get from Agerola to Positano (they are only separated by 5 kilometers—though no direct road exists), I ran so quickly from the SITA bus stop to the beach, that when I finally jumped into the Tyrrhenian to take a swim, I forgot to take my pants off. That is just how maddening these SITA drives are.
But Positano is sublime. And on that same day, after my pants on fire swim, Giuseppe and I managed to relax, unwind and even enjoy the suffocating beauty that is Positano. In fact we were enjoying it so much that we missed the last bus back to Agerola.
Giuseppe assured me that one of the many pizzaioli from Agerola who work in Positano could give us a late-night lift back home. And yet, by one am no ride had materialized, and by two am we were hanging out at the famous Mandara parking garage with Giuseppe’s sole Positanese friend, Antonio, the geriatric night time gas station attendant.
Antonio is a real Positano gentleman in that he has a lovely sing-songy Positano accent and he hates the uncouth barbarians from the mountains of Agerola. He told Peppe he was a bad husband. “Go take her to the Sirenuse. Treat her like a principessa, you brute.”
Antonio and his chivalry must have had some effect on Giuseppe. Around 3am, Peppe even offered to go find us a hotel- albeit not at the lusted after Sirenuse. This was of course a vacant gesture as there are never any hotels available on a summer night at 3am in Positano- especially not for Agerolese mountain men like my louse of a husband. And so we spent the whole damn night at the Mandara parking garage with Antonio berating the barbarians of Agerola and denigrating the drunken Irish tourists who vomited on his gas pump.
"I won't say arrivederci to them," Antonio told me, "because I never hope to see them again!"
Luckily by 6am we were back down at Positano’s Fornillo beach, pretending that for once in our lives we were just early risers, looking to perform a few sun salutations and take a morning dip in the sea.
The local beach club owner Guido and his poodle, Chica were not fooled—they both know we are late risers, and that given all of our Falanghina guzzling, we are most definitely not budding yogis. Guido served us espresso. Chica the poodle looked at Peppe quizically, unaccustomed to seeing him at such an early hour. We settled into yet another day at the beach, and after roughly 36 sleepless hours in Positano, we finally headed back to Agerola.
When we once again boarded the dreaded Sunday SITA bus home, Giuseppe fought crowds with the ferocity of a bull fighter to secure us two coveted seats. Gazing out the window down the coast and easing himself into his seat, Giuseppe pulled out his watermelon lip gloss for the 87th time that day and sighed, “We should spend the night in Positano more often…..Just think of all of the money we would save.”
Frazzled and suffocated by SITA fumes and Positano, I could only stare at Giuseppe. Maybe Antonio, the gas station attendant was right---this man, my husband, is PAZZO! But, for once, I didn’t say anything. I was, to my own admission, generally content--- staring at Positano, even if from a bus window, tends to have that effect.
I was also starving, and when we eventually got home roughly four hours later, I discovered that Giuseppe had stalled a Capri branded towel some tourist has left on the bus. God help us all. Peppe, in addition to being a montagnard was also apparently a mariuolo
Fuck it, I thought, I'm making a frittata.
Frittata con Rucola (Arugula Frittata)
Serves 6 as an antipasto and 4 as a secondo
8oz loosely packed arugula
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
Cracked pepper to taste
1 tablespoon butter
1 oz grated Parmesan cheese (in all honesty, I use whatever cheese I have on hand and suggest you do the same)
6 large eggs
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
Toss Arugula in olive, vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt, pepper
Warm butter in 10” skillet over medium heat
Whisk egg, cheese, ½ teaspoon salt and cracked pepper
Sauté half of the arugula in butter
Pour egg mixture into skillet and cook for 3 minutes until egg is set but top is still slightly runny
Place skillet in oven and cook 3 minutes until top is set and golden blond
Garnish with remaining arugula and Parmesan shavings
Eat warm or room temp with bread and chilled Falanghina, Vermentino or Chardonnay