As you would probably expect here in Italy, the Christmas build up starts with food. Be warned: if you’re reading this on an empty stomach you may want to grab a little something to put you on, and I advise you to also have a tissue to hand – there are photos and descriptions of cakes and other sweet treats and I will not be held responsible if you drool on your screens or keyboards!
I’m trapped and alone … there is no Internet connection and I can’t listen to music as the volume of the radio doesn’t go loud enough to drown out the hammering on the roof of the caravan, which sounds like I’m stuck in a car wash on full speed. It’s becoming white noise. The same applies to any attempts to watch television or a film. All I can do is write, typing my thoughts and fears into a simple Word document, hoping that someone out there will eventually read it …
Well we’ve reached that time of year where the ‘orto’ is now cleared of all edible elements, except for three of my failed yellow onions which now seem to be enjoying the colder weather and have put out strong foliage, and my rhubarb, which is looking even more spindly than through the Summer months. (The ‘carciofi’ have put on a bit of growth as well, despite us being in the wrong growing zone, but I don’t want to say this too loudly in case they realise and stop growing!)
I thought I’d finish off, what has become a decidedly foodie themed Summer, with a list of foodie dos and don’ts that we’ve discovered whilst living here in Italy. We’ve had our fair share of finger wagging and tut-tutting about some of our choices whilst eating or drinking with friends so I’m paving the way for all you future visitors to Liguria to be aware of the pit falls when dining out.
My ‘cantina’ is far from full (the photo above is the dream, sadly not the reality) – unless you count the various new ‘Quattro Stagioni’ and ‘Kilner’ jars that tempt me whenever I amble around Ipercoop (there’s always a new size or shape that I know I couldn’t live without – in England my obsession was handbags, in Italy its glass jars!) We’ve also started saving jars and bottles to put to one side for future preserves but that has just made me more awkward to supermarket shop with – if I buy anything in a jar now, I have to like the jar as well as the contents!
Evviva!!! We’ve found mushrooms … on our land … and they’re huge! The promised ‘trulle’ have arrived, and we can walk around swinging our ‘cestino’ in broad daylight as we now have our permission cards ready to whip out of our pockets to show to any questioning Guardia Forestale.
Apparently I am blessed with green thumbs here in Italy – good to know as we’re wanting to live a lifestyle where we grow a lot of our own fruit and vegetables. If I had the dreaded ‘pollici grigio’ (grey thumbs), we’d have to cover over the ‘orto’ and create a tennis court instead (although I’m not that good at tennis either!)
Well the first official day of Autumn has passed (Google kindly reminded me on 22nd September with one of their little animations on their search page) but it is actually starting to feel like Autumn here now. We’re still hitting temperatures of around 26degrees when there’s sunshine but it is definitely dropping cooler on a night, and of course those nights are starting earlier – no more sitting outside in shorts and t-shirts until 10 o’clock as even we are reaching for jumpers and going inside as it drops dark at 8pm.
With thirteen kilos of plums sitting in the freezer at one point, and only so many crumbles you can eat in the heat of Summer we’ve been enjoying our plums, cooked down with a little sugar into a compote type affair with Greek yogurt as a cool pudding after dinner. I’ve decided against making jam at the moment as we still have a couple of jars of mulberry and grape to turn to (and to be honest we’re not big jam eaters anyway). So I wanted to find something new to do with my bags of purple fruit and, with the help of the Internet, I started reading about leather!
Well yesterday, after 2 hours and around thirty signatures each on countless originals and copies of various documents and plans, our project for the refurbishment of the house has been submitted to the Comune. Over the last few weeks our Italian vocabulary has been increased to include words such as ‘trincea’ (trench), ‘intonacare’ (to plaster), ‘soffita’ (loft space) and ‘trave’ (beams). But we’ve been very lucky to have found a ‘geometra’ who, although he speaks very little English, has bags of patience to allow us to ask all the questions we need to understand each process – and you know how much we like to understand each process!