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Posts tagged ‘vegetarian’

Unexpected

Gates like these dot the countryside in the Valle d'itria. They remind me that doors everywhere are just waiting to be opened.

Gates like these dot the countryside in the Valle d’itria. They remind me that doors everywhere are just waiting to be opened.

A little more than six months have passed since we changed everything about our lives. It’s easy to identify the radical differences—we aren’t working for other people or institutions, we don’t drive everywhere, we’re speaking another language—but the subtle, under-the-radar changes are the ones that sneak up behind us and let us know that this nuova storia isn’t business as usual. And it’s the small things, the unexpected surprises, which have truly changed us. Read more

Comfort Food—A Winter Story

A wintry day at the beach near Ostuni.

A wintry day at the beach near Ostuni.

We’ve been told that January and February are the cruelest months in the Valle d’Itria in Puglia, Italy. If it’s going to snow, it’s likely that it’ll happen during these first two months of the year. If not, a regular schedule of icy winds sent straight from the Russian steppes whip their way through the twisty little streets of our centro storico. So we expected the worst. Read more

Salute

Artichokes are still plentiful in the markets here. They're high in antioxidants, great for the liver and may reduce cell proliferation in some cancers.

Artichokes are still plentiful in the markets here. They’re high in antioxidants, great for the liver and may reduce cell proliferation in some cancers.

Like the rest of the overindulged world, our thoughts have turned to the virtues of simplicity in the wake of Italian holiday season excess. We had a wonderful time during the constant round of parties, friends and multicourse meals, but there was way too much of all of it. While starvation is a daily reality for so many, I just learned that worldwide obesity has doubled since 1980. Stunning. So now we’re moving into a more contemplative moment, trying to figure out how to live with all this exuberance while maintaining some semblance of sanity in terms of our salute (health) and diet. The answer? We’ve turned to the elderly here who are still tied to the old ways that gave rise to the much-heralded Mediterranean Diet. Read more

Firmly Planted, Looking Forward

Life-size saints on a Via Ostuni rooftop looking heavenward for divine inspiration.

Life-size saints on a Via Ostuni rooftop looking heavenward for divine inspiration.

A year ago today we lived in Portland. Oregon, It was raining. Brian was recovering from a severed Achilles tendon and I was working more than 50 hours a week in a soul-sapping job. I had been recruited for the position; it held a great deal of promise that proved to be utterly unfulfilled. We loved Portland, but the weather was starting to wear on us. We felt stuck, seeing little potential for change on the horizon. Then, six months later, we changed everything. Read more

I Cenoni

Logging yet more hours at the holiday table.

Logging yet more hours at the holiday table.

We are knee deep in serious holiday eating. Ever since December 8th (the Feast of the Immacolata), occasions to dive deeply into Pugliese seasonal specialties have piled up relentlessly. We are helpless to resist, if only for research purposes. From table to table, festival to festival and market to market, we are cutting a wide swathe through the culinary repertoire here, with little left untasted. We know that the worst will be over after the last pettola (fritter) is consumed on New Year’s Day, but our energy is starting to flag in direct proportion to the tightness of our belts. Read more

It’s Cold Outside

Ostuni's port, Villanova, is still beautiful in the middle of winter.

Ostuni’s port, Villanova, is just as beautiful in the middle of winter.

On the coldest day since we’ve been in Italy, we went to the beach. No, not to swim, which would be considered certifiably insane at this time of year here. Instead, we wanted to see what the Adriatic Sea looks like up close in winter. We were also looking for a little ambient warmth. Our town is about 1, 500 feet above sea level, so it’s always colder here—a real advantage during the summer. But in the winter, the coast is the place to be for a little relief from the tramontana, the cold north wind that whips through the tiny streets and alleys of our medieval town. Read more

A Winter Palette

The winter fruit and vegetable market in Martina Franca is a revelation.

The winter fruit and vegetable market in Martina Franca is a revelation.

After seventeen years of summertime visits to Martina Franca, we always knew what to expect at the weekly market. In July, the rows and rows of fruit and vegetable stalls are overflowing. Tomatoes of every imaginable variety, slim, tender green beans, bunches of basil as big as a bouquet of flowers and luscious, vibrant stone fruit all shine in the sun. We want to buy it all, then rush home to cook it, overwhelmed by the sheer excess of it all. So when we decided to live here year round, we resigned ourselves to slimmer winter pickings. It gets cold here, after all, and fields must lay fallow waiting for the spring. Instead, we’ve discovered that it is a different, but equally bounteous landscape. We are overcome with the urge to dive deeply into the season. Read more

Dinner all’Americana

Kale used in the dinner all'Americana with Italian friends.

Kale used in the dinner all’Americana with Italian friends.

Not all of our friends here would be thrilled to be invited to our house for a typical American meal. The Italians we know are pretty much united around the notion that American cuisine is a total disaster, regardless of our prowess in many other fields. They’ll give us technology, higher education and marketing, but when it comes to food, Americans are non-starters. Read more

Herbaceous

Wild mentuccia grows abundantly on our property.

Wild mentuccia grows abundantly on our property.

The first time we saw our land in Puglia, we were immediately seduced by its olive trees and the stone walls that contained them. It wasn’t until much later that we came to appreciate its more subtle charms. They were, quite literally, underfoot. Thanks to especially kind local senior citizens and a much younger herbalist friend from nearby Locorotondo, we now know that we are possessed of a spontaneous greengrocer and virtual herbal medicine chest on our five acres. And it’s all for the gathering, almost year round. Read more

A Hot Pasta for a Cold Day

The best cold weather warm-up pasta I know . . . fast, easy and deeply satisfying.

The weather is changing in Martina Franca. While we’re not swimming in flood waters like the unfortunate residents of Venice, our skies are grey and the wind is whipping down our cavernous city streets, prompting a spontaneous show of woolly scarves and winter coats. There’s only one thing to do: make pasta. Read more

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