Quando il fiume si arrabbia

3 marzo 2017

Freddo oggi.  Un vento da paura.  Lo sento quasi spostare la macchina, mentre mi avvio verso la stazione ferroviaria.

Marzo a New York. Un mese strano, imprevedibile. A volte c’è quasi tempo da spiaggia; poi, il giorno dopo, arriva una leggera nevicata.

Ci si abitua.

Oggi il fiume Hudson urla.  È furioso. Le onde schiumose sbattono contro gli scogli del molo, l’acqua è azzurra perché lo è il cielo. Il sole splende, tanto che devi coprirti gli occhi con la mano quando guidi, l’aletta parasole non basta. Ma fa lo stesso un freddo cane.

Riflette forse la tempesta che ti si accanisce dentro.

Gli anni passano, invecchiamo, più o meno bene, diventiamo dei grandi saggi, ma dovrebbe servirci a qualcosa, ‘sta saggezza.

La vita è adesso, come dice il nostro amico del tempo che fu.

Toglietetevi le maschere, tristi pagliacci, guardatevi nello specchio della verità, e aprite il cuore.   A quelli che contano.

La famiglia originale è forse la più importante.

Come l’amicizia antica e vera.

Tutto il resto non vale un cavolo.

Come è arrabbiato il mio fiume, accidenti.

Blog with a View

Still adjusting to my American life.  It never fails: I return from Italy, and stumble back into my daily reality, slightly dazed and wobbly.  For days I’ve been attempting to produce a decent written piece, but thoughts and words are fuzzy, my skin still tender from the fiery touch of the aggressive Southern Italian sun.  My memory box is bursting, each image a sweet stab to my newly fragile heart.

Hence, dear readers, as I await steady nerves and solid, tangible impressions to type on my computer, I offer you living images of my journey, two short videos of two very different and wonderful places: A quaint and unusual shoe shop in spectacular Sorrento; and my beloved open market street in my town, Portici.

Slip into my videos and live Italian for a precious few!

 

Mara at the Gardens of San Giorgio a Cremano

So, I’m on a video roll, what can I say. Well, I had filmed a ‘couple’ of things in my travels and professional events, and I wanted to share with you, my dearest readers.  This one is a little particular in the sense that the beginning…didn’t happen.  By some unfortunate glick fabricated by the mind of my digital camera, even though I introduced the video, meticulously explaining where I was, that fundamental part disappeared!  Pazienza. But I can write about it, no?  In this video I’m in the charming town of San Giorgio a Cremano, next door to Portici (Italy, of course), a lively community at the foothills of the Vesuvius.  On this picture-perfect mid-October afternoon, I visited – thanks to the kindness of a local friend – two stunning aristocratic villas, originally built in the 18th century.  The first one is called Villa Vannucchi, and it was abandoned and partially buried for a couple of centuries.  In the 1980’s, it was restored to its full glory, following the original blueprints found in the ruins.  It was the summer residence of a very wealthy noble family, and, I’m told, the site of quite a few ‘wild’ and opulent parties. The gardens are gorgeous and the setting serene and elegant.  Now it is the home of Italy’s first online university, Università Telematica Pegaso, offering courses in law and humanities.  This brief video starts in the gardens, since, as I explained, the segment taped inside the palace at the beginning, was mysteriously deleted.  From Villa Vannucchi, I walk a few hundred meters to another villa cum park, Villa Bruno, also a stunning place from that era, where you can also find an outdoor theater that, in the summer, offers live performances.  Tucked in the back, we also find an adorable, picturesque bar, calledGoethe Café, in honor of the great German writer who was enamored of all of Southern Italy, especially the Naples area, and spent some time at this villa.  Here local writers gather to this day to read and discuss their pieces.  What an extraordinary coincidence, no?  I suppose I’m home now.

The Market Street in Portici

It hasn’t changed much from my childhood days.  Okay, so my family in Italy tells me sure it has a bit, certo, non ti ricordi i venditori ambulanti…?  Perhaps, but the feeling is the same.  The sounds in my beloved Neapolitan dialect, the glorious visual – bright  red cherry tomatoes, deep-orange squashes and the sizzling emerald of the “friarielli”, the greens of my childhood, similar to broccoli di rape, but not quite, a specialty of the countryside around Naples, super-delicious with sausages – the scents of brioscine and cornetti fresh out of the oven, bursting with custard or jam.  The piles of adorable dish towels, aprons, tablecloths for hardly anything (we’re talking about 1 euro or less, seriously), the silky tunics for 5 Euros, delicate espresso cups for next-to-nothing, and of course the traditional statuettes of Neapolitan mascot Pulcinella… My childhood and adolescence live on the market street in Portici, crazy/wild/absurd/much-loved Via Marconi, traffic jams and all.  Take a look at the past that is also the present, life on a stage, melancholy, regret, heartache, love, joy, all that we are… Video-taped this October by yours truly.

Red Wine and Rosemary Cake: A Taste of the Renaissance

So, what can I tell you, even though is nearly 90 degrees, I felt like baking.  I turned on the oven (and the air conditioner) and got quickly to work on the making of cake and video.  This is a lovely, aromatic, pretty cake that combines savory ingredients flawlessly into a sweet and light batter.  Delightful for breakfast (always my favorite way), or with coffee or tea.  I created this recipe after I heard someone talking about this Renaissance-type cake on a radio cooking show many years ago.  Thus, with a little investigating of ingredients, a photo in a catalog and the help of my extensive cookbook collection, I worked out this little gem with an ancient taste and a pleasantly rustic appearance.  Here is the recipe!