A Day in Italy

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!


3 Responses to “A Day in Italy”

  1. 1 will morrissey August 4, 2008 at 6:25 pm

    Buona Giornata,
    what a great idea for a GREAT day….I was wondering about the recipe/ricetta for the spaghetti dish and the appetizer….Was the pecorino melted over the cooked’salmon’, or just mixed in cold….Is the sauce for the pasta a comboof the pepper flakes, zuccini and garbanzo beans and olive oil and garlic cooked and then added to the pasta?? Thanks!/Grazie!

  2. 2 Bit o' Honey August 5, 2008 at 12:14 am

    Why didn’t I think of that? Italy for a day! Add this to the list on how to live creatively. How romantic! Marvelous essay and great photos!

  3. 3 bluebicicletta August 6, 2008 at 12:33 am

    Ciao Will,

    Thanks for your interest in these great, simple dishes. The appetizer was basically an antipasto plate– cold salame (you may have misread “salmon”) and Pecorino Romano slices, with Ciabatta bread. This is pretty traditional in my family– having a plate with different cured meats and hard cheeses, and sometimes olives to pass around at the beginning of a meal.

    The spaghetti dish is based on the most simple recipe I know, referred to in Italian as “pasta aglio e olio” or pasta with garlic and oil. It is delicious with just those two ingredients, but you can literally add anything to it. I apologize for not having very specific quantities, but it is largely dependent on your taste.

    The most basic way to make it is to pour enough extra virgin olive oil in a pan to just coat however much pasta you will be cooking (maybe a couple of tablespoons for a single hearty portion). Heat up the oil over medium heat, shortly before the pasta is done. Chop some garlic finely (as much or as little as you like– probably a couple of cloves for one portion of pretty garlicky pasta). When the garlic is golden, add the cooked pasta and toss it around to coat. You can add a little more olive oil if it seems too dry. If you like hot peppers, add some chili flakes or you could even sautee a little raw hot pepper of your choosing with the garlic, before adding the pasta. Salt and pepper the pasta to taste– you can also add some parmigiano or pecorino cheese at the end.

    If you want to add some zucchini like we did (or eggplant, or garbanzo beans, or sausage or fresh tomatoes . . .), just cook whatever has the longest cooking time first, or cook it separately and add it to the pan after you’ve added the pasta.

    I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any questions! Happy eating!

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Hello there! My name is Nicole K. Docimo, and I am an artist and writer from the U.S.A. but currently residing in Zurich, Switzerand. Thank you for visiting my blog!

Some Thoughts

"Be thirsty for the ultimate water,
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{from "Joy at Sudden Disappointment"
translated by C. Barks.}

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