Buon Carnevale a tutti!

We are celebrating this ancient festival today, when anything goes (or almost!).

There are many foods associated with this event, all involving the consuming of rich and fatty foods, since the following day is Ash Wednesday, when, in the past, all meat was forbidden for the forty days of Lent, as a sacrifice.  As a matter of fact, the word Carnevale comes from the Latin carnem levare, which translates to ‘take away meat’.

The point of Carnevale, also known in the US as Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday), is to enjoy this day in every possible way, eating a variety of delicious foods.  Many traditions are associated with the Italian Carnevale, including celebrating with amazing costumes and masks borrowed from the famous Commedia dell’Arte.

In my family, when I was growing up in Italy, we wore cute cardboard masks, sometimes costumes, and there would be lively plays and poem reciting at school.

My mother always made the delicious Frappe di Carnevale, also known as Cenci, or Chiacchiere. They are dough ribbons, fragrant with lemon and wine (or brandy), deep fried till golden, tender and light.  They are super easy to make, and here is my recipe!

Buon Carnevale, and eat up!

Learn Italian!

Do you have a smattering of Italian? Did you take it in high school, or studied it on your own? Well, then you are welcome to join us!

Our Italian Language and Culture Class happens happily every Tuesday night through Zoom, snow, or rain not-withstanding.  Yes, we definitely need  to thank technology these days, which allows us to interact easily with anyone anywhere.  No small thing.

Go the North Castle Library, click on the calendar, find our Italian Class, and follow the prompts.  You need to register to join.

Looking forward to meeting lovely new people, who have my same passion for Italy and all things Italian!

A presto, miei cari!

The Storm

The storm can engulf you suddenly.

While you go about the business of life.

Working, creating, worrying about the stupid things.

Because this is how we roll, we imperfect human beings, who are trying our damndest to be…what?

Nothing, really.  We are just attempting to survive, and, if we have any whimsical, always unrealistic, dreams, we put them aside till the right time comes.

My dear friends, the right time never comes.

So we cower, and follow the most traveled road, not realizing that only some of us are good travelers.  Some keep stumbling, taking all the wrong turns, turning back, getting lost and smashing into walls, crying in the shadows, cursing fate, regretting decisions taken decades past, when we could barely count decades, but we trusted.  Others, dreams, the future.

The future is now, and it is as cloudy as a London sky.

The brilliant ones seize the future before it happens, twist it and mold it like Murano  molten glass.  The others – the weak, the fearful, the responsible – just find themselves projected there, broken, confused, scrambling to just stay afloat.

And, mostly, fail. 

Try your damndest, as I said, but the winds can be so instantly overwhelming that you are swept away before you have the chance to realize that it is windy.

You cannot fight the storm, dear ones. Just close your eyes, and allow it to divert you where it will.

Then, if you can, try to pick up the pieces.  Yes, difficult task, some are unreachable.

The storm is wicked. 

But so is life.

Merry and Bright, Even in 2020!

And here we are, it’s Christmas again!

Certainly, an unusual, difficult, and disturbing year for all of us.

But I am focusing on the always extraordinary beauty and joy that Christmas brings to our hearts.

Of course, I made all the traditional Christmas sweets and foods, because nothing will interfere with traditions, not even a pandemic.

I am thankful for my wonderful and adored family, and for the lovely students of my Italian Language and Culture Class, at the Armonk Library.

We had our very first Zoom Christmas party this year!  Crazy, yes, but so much fun all the same.  We did not get to share food, as we always do, but we had a real toast from our homes!

Wishing everyone a blessed Christmas, and a great, HEALTHY, and fabulous 2021, to all of you, carissimi!

Buon Natale, amici!

My Live Presentation on My Food Blogs

Ciao!
Please join me for a live Zoom presentation about my Italian food blogs, for the renowned Scarsdale Woman’s Club, on Thursday, September 10, at 2 pm. (Eastern)
The presentation is free, and all are welcome (yes, you gentlemen also!).
It will be a lot of fun, as I will read some of my blogs, tell you the recipes, and we will all share our food memories.
Join us!
Here is the Zoom link, available on 9/10, at 2 pm.
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85774934669?pwd=WmJadzdjVlZtaDhieXZjeE5qTWpOQT09

Tutto Sommato

Certo che soffro della sindrome del nido vuoto.

I miei uccellini sono volati tutti via.  Uno alla volta.

La mia ultima, la piccolina, si è sposata un mese fa.  Okay, non troppo piccola, insomma, ha ventiquattro anni.  Io l’avrei tenuta volentieri a casa per tanto altro tempo (per sempre?).

Scherzo ovviamente.  Sì, il cuore mi pesa.  Ma sprizza anche di orgoglio.  In fondo, li ho sistemati tutti e tre, i miei figli.  Anni di sacrifici e di  ansia.  E di amore così immenso da diventare l’unico scopo della mia vita.

In verità, una madre vive per i figli.  E sopporta. Tutto.

Non c’è spazio per egoismo quando si diventa madre.  Rinunci e basta.

Sono nata per essere madre, anche se non lo sapevo.  E quando la mia figlia maggiore ammette che l’unica cosa che ha sempre voluto (anche senza rendersene conto) è fare la mamma, e abbandona, dopo sette anni, il suo mestiere lucrativo per un altro che lo è ben poco, ma molto meno impegnativo, per dedicarsi a tale compito, ecco, mi vengono le lacrime agli occhi.  Non sapevo di aver avuto un tale impatto sulle sue scelte.

Come dice Eduardo, i figli sono figli.  Tutto il resto è banalità.

Portici, vista dal balcone di casa

Nonostante le infinite difficoltà, credo nel matrimonio.  La famiglia deve restare unita e forte. L’antica base del matrimonio è la roccia a cui si aggrappano i figli, sicuri del supporto, del calore, dell’affetto.

Lasciate perdere il sogno illusorio della felicità.  Esiste e non esiste.  Sì, ci sono momenti nella vita che esplodono con splendidi fuochi artificiali, la gioia più pura, l’apice dei sentimenti che non finirà mai…

Ma finisce.

Maturiamo, noi, ex-adolescenti, ci ammorbidiamo (anche quando ci induriamo), accettiamo la vita con tutte le sue sfide, ci rimbocchiamo le maniche e facciamo il nostro dovere.

Sì, abbiamo il diritto alla felicità, come giustamente proclama la Costituzione americana, ma ciò non significa che riusciremo ad ottenerla. Ma la responsabilità del genitore, beh, quella vale mille volte di più.

La casa è quieta e vuota, senza i miei figli, surreale, troppo tranquilla, solo io e mio marito qui, non giovani, molto presi dal lavoro e dai vari obblighi, leggermente tristi, ma infinitamente orgogliosi.

Che bello vederli solari e entusiasti, ‘sti tre ragazzi! Laureati, appagati e pieni di speranza nel futuro. Dolci, affettuosi, grati, simpatici, tutti qui vicino, perché nessuno vuole allontanarsi da nessuno.  Una piccola grande famiglia, ognuno per conto suo, ma a un soffio dagli altri.

La base era solida.

Il nostro pezzetto dell’America

Siamo in 12 adesso! La famiglia che ho creato tanti (TANTI!) anni fa, cresce, e la mia gratitudine si espande.  Dalla mia amata esuberante città sul Golfo di Napoli a un tranquillo suburb della Grande Mela, mi sono data da fare.  “Tempus fugit” for sure.

Mi mancano le Barbie e i loro vestitini dappertutto, i cestini da preparare per il lunch per la scuola, le corse serali al catechismo il lunedì; chiudere tutto per la notte, sapendo che loro, i miei adorati piccoli, erano sicuri e comodi nei loro lettini al piano di sopra.

Adesso, passo la camera della mia bambina appena sposata, la vedo vuota e ordinata, gli orsacchiotti ancora sul copriletto, e il cuore mi si stringe.

Ma è la vita, la normalità, i figli cominciano il loro cammino, si sposano, creano le loro famiglie, diventano anche loro genitori che sacrificheranno tutto per quei benedetti doni di Dio.

Il tesoro più prezioso.

Tutto sommato, non male.

My Coffee Chat on the City of Modena at Casa Belvedere

I’m very excited to announce that on Saturday, August 29, 2020, at 10 am, I will be doing a very personal virtual Zoom coffee chat on the beautiful city of Modena.

The wonderful Italian Cultural Foundation at Casa Belvedere is presenting a series of beautiful Italian vacation hot spots, and this is my contribution.

Please join us by going to their website http://www.casa-belvedere.org ,  and scroll down to the coffee chat, where you will see my name.

It is a free event and it’s going to be so much fun.  Can’t wait!

Summer Forever

 

The sun is life, the sun is joy, the sun is happiness, the sun is hope, the sun is medicine, the sun is glory, the sun is the best anti-depressant, the sun is the future, the sun is the will to go on, the sun is freedom, the sun is lack of fear, the sun is love, the sun is fighting for it, the sun is strength, the sun is immense beauty.

Baking. Because My Sanity Depends on It

Very difficult to control my emotions, and act like a reasonable human being.

French Quatre Quart (center), Anise Pound Cakes

I’m bursting with grief, anger and a yearning to take things into my own hands.

Like run for office.  Which is the last thing I would want to do.

The world is coming apart.  My great country has been taken over by Satan himself, and ugliness, no, sheer EVIL, is poisoning the minds of people.

Precious babies are being murdered, criminals are let free, terrorists are allowed to spread terror.

And we, the good, decent, hard-working citizens,are expected to observe and keep our mouths shut.

Because it’s all about political correctness.

The hell with political correctness, you foolish masses of sheep!

I wish I could wave a magic wand and make all this evil disappear, remove all those sub-human individuals who are trashing my America, and restore our freedom and pursuit of happiness.

I vote, people, of course I vote.  And I’m going to be ON FIRE this year! Silent no more!

But for now, I’m cocooning in the (still) safe comfort of my home, and turn on the oven.

I bake, my friends. I collect flour, butter, sugar, eggs, and set up my mise en place on the kitchen table, tell Alexa to play my favorite music, pour a glass of white, and tie on my apron.  Yes, I always wear an apron when I cook; it makes me feel professional, and I have a sizeable collection of colorful little beauties.

The butter is at room temperature, and it is creaming into an ivory silk in the mixer, blending smoothly with the sugar I pulverized in the blender.  I watch the beater spin, and my mind is spinning along with it.  Anguish and fury  wrench my heart.

Aperol Spritz

This time it is not love that guides my hand as I break the eggs; a furious, intense heartbreak makes me crack them with excessive force, nearly making them smash on the counter.  Greasing the nooks and crannies of my beloved Bundt pans with a brush has become painting a coat of destruction over the evil that I feel all around me.  The evil that has taken a grip of my country, and is allowed to flourish.

Wake up, good Americans, snap out of your obedient puppet state, wave your fists!

I scatter anise seed into the batter, but I wish to toss darts toward those who are destroying our  decent, serene, honest way of life.

I place my cakes in the hot oven, feel the fire warm my face, close my eyes for an instant, and will this ancient act of preparing food to exorcise the demons that surround us.

The aroma of vanilla and anise drifts through the house.  All seems well with the world.

But it isn’t.

Bake cakes, my friends, be fierce, and passionately love and defend our country!