All tagged Spring

Spezzatino con Piselli (Stewed Beef and Peas)

Then I remembered I had about 4 kilos of fresh peas to shuck.  I also remembered something somebody like Dr. Weil or Lao Tzu or Dr. Phil or Dr. Seuss once said about keeping your hands busy with something productive when anxiety strikes.  And while I was unsure of the provenance of this sage advice, I am pretty sure that the intended activity was not freebasing aspirin and furiously typing outlandish word combinations into 21st century search engines.  Fucking envelope. Fucking post office.   Fucking peas.  I shucked and contemplated.  It almost felt as if I were reciting a novena, peas in place of the rosary. 

Fusilli Con Fave (Pasta and Favas)

"Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate"- DANTE

Renovating a house is trying in the best of circumstances. Renovating a house in the South of Italy is chaos, not even controlled chaos, just chaos.  Tiles go missing.  Parts of wall fall from the ceiling.  Artisans come and go according to their own indecipherable schedules. Occasionally doors get left open and stray dogs wander into the house, albeit it with more regularity than the local craftsmen. All of this means that I have unwittingly become part project manager, part zookeeper.  Or as my by old boss used to trill when I worked in the federal government, "It's like herding cats around here." More depressingly, when I tell friends I am renovating an old house on the Amalfi Coast, they often imagine Under the Tuscan Sun.  My situation is more akin to another book that loosely takes place in Italy: Dante’s Inferno.  I occasionally imagine dipping local craftsman into vats of cement, meting out my punishment Dante style.

Favetta (Fava Bean Purée)

It goes with out saying that I have taken a year hiatus from writing about food. While I have been away from the kitchen, I managed to get married, renovate a house, curse the day I moved to Italy and swear I was becoming a vegan, just to piss off the nutty people in the even nuttier town that I currently call home.  Yet here I am, still in Agerola, Napoli, Italia.  I battle it out with the locals, lament the lack of infrastructure and on my worst days, just wish I could go to the Whole Foods and freebase a sample tub guacamole chased with an overpriced bottle of asparagus water.  But then there are days like today, when I look outside at my garden and realize, whatever, I might as well go pick some fava beans.

Vitello con funghi spugnole (Veal and Morels)

I seem to have developed the curious local habit of never leaving the house without a busta—plastic bag.  After ridding our house of hundreds of hoarded plastic bags, I now can’t seem to get enough of them, and there is chiefly one reason for that— food foraging. It pains me to admit that I am now not only a bag lady, but also a forager.  Food foraging has become a somewhat twee, overly precious pastime in the much of the world thanks to the rise of René Redzepi and the reign of hipsters

Like many pesky habits, my food foraging developed so gradually, that I failed to realize what was happening.  In Washington, my good friend Kareem and I liked to nance around Logan Circle with kitchen sheers, furtively snipping rosemary out of other peoples gardens.  We weren’t serious ‘foragers.’ We just couldn’t bear to purchase overpriced herbs at the Whole Foods so we pounced around our urban jungle gossiping about who we saw at the gym and what we would make for dinner, all the while snipping rosemary from public parks and private gardens.

And then I moved to Italy.

Carciofi Ripieni

Sometimes when we are out in public, Giuseppe pretends not to know me. Such occasions have occurred in public busses, ferries to Capri, airports, shopping malls and most recently, the misleadingly named electronics store, Expert, in Castellammare di Stabia.  These events usually follow the same arc: I sense general Neapolitan chaos is about to erupt; Giuseppe tells me to calm the f*ck down; I develop an imperious American attitude; Giuseppe walks away and whistles ‘o sole mio; I loose all grip on reality and respond to said chaos in much the same way Joan Crawford responds to the Pepsi Boardroom in Mommie Dearest…’Don't fuck with me fellas. This ain't my first time at the rodeo.’