As I think I’ve said before, I am half Italian. It is strange to say that I am only half because Italian-Americanism has been the main cultural influence in my life. Me and my family lived in northern Italy for my 6th grade year, after my parents sold their restaurant in Connecticut and decided to make a long-time dream come true, and actually live in Italy. Since that year, Italy has been at times an all-consuming interest/obsession, and always a very important part of my life, especially when it comes to food.
Penne all’ Arrabbiata (Penne with spicy tomato sauce) and calamari at a trattoria in Peschici, Italy
I grew up eating Italian food. My dad is a cook, and in general Italian and Italian-American cooking has been my home food. When I started dating my boyfriend Mike, almost five years ago, one of the first things we bonded over was cooking and eating. Our first date (although we didn’t know for sure it was a “date” until we started spending all of our time together, shortly after it) consisted of going to the farmer’s market and making homemade pasta. It is no surprise then, that our first big vacation together involved going to Italy where one of our main interests was eating.
Mike and me in Peschici, Italy, Summer 2004
A feast we cooked while in Peschici
Since we dream constantly of our next trip, but are not able to afford it right now, Mike suggested we live a day like we would in Italy. Some of the main things on the agenda would be going to the Farmer’s Market, walking a lot, doing some sort of swimming (since we vacationed on the Italian coast), walking around downtown while eating ice cream, and of course, cooking a large mid-day meal, with a long nap afterwards. Who could pass up the chance to eat themselves silly? I quickly agreed, and we pulled off this little shenanigan yesterday.
Our menu consisted of:
Appetizer: salame and Pecorino Romano cheese with bread
First Course: spaghetti with zucchini, garbanzo beans, chili flakes, olive oil and garlic
Second Course: chicken cutlet (chicken breast pounded thin and breaded) and tomato salad with mozzarella
Of course this was all accompanied by a large amount of Ciabatta (a type of Italian bread) and red wine– we picked a not so Italian bottle of Pinot Noir. You may be wondering, “What about dessert?” The truth is, my Italian family has never eaten much traditional dessert– we usually throw down a bowl of fruit after a meal. So, Mike and I opted for some watermelon from our garden to round out this meal.
After eating ourselves to our heart’s content, we lay around the house in a good food fog. I neglected to document the rest of the day with my camera, but suffice it to say, it was a nice exercise of life in the slow lane. I dozed at the pool for a large portion of the afternoon, and we definitely found time for the evening passeggiata (the Italian tradition of walking around the town center in the evening to digest your food, to see and be seen), of course, while eating ice cream.
Here’s go good food and slow days!