“A tavola non si invecchia”. - Italian proverb (At the table with good friends and family you do not become old).

Sharing authentic Italian recipes entrusted upon me through the privilege of being invited into many Italian homes and kitchen’s abroad. I travel, cook, eat, share, learn and photograph my experiences, a truly soul enriching journey. There are now over 100 recipes on this blog to search from. I am a Melbourne born girl who now resides in Pietrasanta, Italy. Sharing my love for food and all things Italian with you. I am not a professionally trained chef, just a person that really loves cooking and has made my passion my reality! Through talent and drive I now work as a private chef in some of the most prestigious private villa`s here in Tuscany, Italy!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Hello from Italy- Ciao da Italia!

Here I go, where do I start? It has been a while since I have put my fingers to the keyboard, or as we used to say 'pen to paper'(I am now showing my age). What do you say when you are speechless? Or what do you say when life has taken you by surprise?

Today I decided to bite the bullet and finally write. The reason for abandoning the joy I find in writing is the anguish I have had over what to write about. Every day, every moment in Italy has in some way has inspired me, and in turn I have wanted to share these observations with you. However I have been overwhelmed with so many sincere and wonderful experiences, I have been battling on a daily basis where to start. One thing for sure is that these experiences have generally revolved around food. From the moment I arrived (actually from the moment I sat next to an Italian man on my one-way flight, Alessio), I was reminded how much Italian's are connected to food- how could I forget? Not in a glutinous way I think that is sometimes connected to a relationship with food in my home country. More a respectful and resourceful relationship with knowing seasonal produce, and appreciating the limited availability of these ingredients throughout the year. Also, the way in which most Italian's will always offer the 'best' part of a dish to a guest in honour of wanting to share the goodness with you.
I arrived in Italy over two month's ago and I have been inundated with so many food topics to write about. In fact in the brief time I was absent from Italy, I seem to have built a 'semi-famous' status from the success of this blog (or the illusion of it's success). Which on my return has resulted in having had many invitations to try the cuisine at restaurants, prepare local dishes with my friends, being welcomed into peoples homes, celebrating a friends Grandmother's 100th birthday in Calabria and a family offering to slaughter their pig to make various cured cuts. I think the motive is secretly for them to somehow acquire notoriety for being written about on this blog (actually some people have blatantly asked to be written about, bless). However I do feel that there is just a general sincerity and care for wanting to share their knowledge with me. I have been taken aback with people's generosity in sharing and their support.

For a strange reason I have felt almost a little 'fake' and in-turn embarrassed to write. I have felt that my experiences and what I have gained can not be translated correctly to you. Here I am an Australian woman living in Italy trying to write about Italian food and in some-way for a short period I felt like a phony. I think this has also been a reason for my apprehension to commence. Although I do believe now after hosting a few dinner parties and sharing my food with Italian's I have proven myself to be a good cook and feel confident once again in sharing with you. Believe it or not, a few of my first cooking attempts were a flop which definitely bruised my pride a (damn that new oven)! Why do we humans plague ourselves with such destructive thoughts, such as self doubt? I know I am a great cook, but in someway I have needed to seek approval to justify this- could this be called being humble (or just plain crazy)? I think some of the nervousness comes from the fact that Italian's are particularly critical about food. So I guess in a sense being complimented by them is one huge pat on the back.

It has also baffled me that during this lack of communicating with you, you have continued to support me. For this I am grateful and humbled. This blog still continues to receive approximately 100 searches per day. In fact, I have received several messages from concerned readers- one from a popular restaurant. I promise now that I have finally published my first post from Italy, soon to follow will be many food recipes. Within  24 hours of arriving I had already encountered several gastronomic experiences. I thought it would be simply inappropriate to publish my first post from Italy as a recipe. To me, it deserved so much more.

Viareggio is a relatively small sea-side 'glitzy' town in Tuscany. A place that I like but not particularly. In my opinion the ancient Cities that are of close proximity offer aspects more to my palate such as art galleries, concert halls, museums, and controversial fashion. Viareggio does not really host any of these attributes, especially in winter.  I find the architecture to lack inspiration almost on a daily basis (although it is not too shabby waking up to a view of the Mediterranean sea every day- or watching the breathtaking sunset from my balcony)! However for some reason this place feels like home to me. I know that one of the major factors that attribute to my current happy state of mind are the people I have meet here and now consider to be my friends. This time I feel like I have truly settled in, and resumed a  somewhat 'normal' existence. On my return I felt as though Italy gave me one big invisible hug welcoming me back and the wind whispered that everything would be ok. It is so wonderful finally living in an apartment that although temporary, is mine. To most I think this conventional style of living is taken for granted, but as I have not lived in my own space for such a long time, I am truly appreciative of this. My life for a while has been almost nomad like, in that I have not felt settled.  My days in Viareggio have been filled by riding my bike, going to local markets, inviting friends over for coffee- which seem to overlap into lunch, hosting a few parties, teaching English and cooking classes, and travelling a little. I think some of this contentment must go to my flatmate, Cristian. In fact, many of my great food experiences yet simplest have been shared with him around our table. His generosity and ability to cook wonderful food continues to amaze me (I know he will be embarrassed reading this).

I am happy that I fought with the snickering in my head and got the goggles rolling for there are only 10 more days until Christmas. There are many traditional recipes I really want to share with you. We saw our first glimpse of snow on the weekend and the cold streets are lined with Christmas lights. You can smell the excitement of Christmas in the air (I posted my letter to Santa). As I have spent the last 10  years in Europe during this period, the smell of Christmas to me is that of cloves, cinnamon, oranges and mulled wine. I don't know where I will be this Christmas, who I will be with or what will be on my pate.  All I know is that I am looking forward to celebrating this time of year with my friends, some who like me who do not have their families close. 
Sharing my love for people in the best way I know how to- cooking! 
'Buona Domenica'- Good Sunday lunch at a friends house
Mayor of Polisenta in Calabria pays his respect at a 100th birthday party
yes, they are whole chillies on the pizza- Calabria 
fresh tomatoes and whole balls of buffalo mozzarella- Positano

a man cuts a slice of peach and offers me the best piece  
literally sun-drying chillies on a roof top in Tropea- Calabria
having lunch with a friend at my house

a doughnut waiting for me at 5:30am in the morning, for my road trip 

Climbing the local Alps in Tuscany "Apuane Alps"-searching for........... 
.......picking mushrooms, eating figs straight of the tree, and finding chestnuts
'aperitivo' at my house with friends 
Hitting the local Italian 'discoteca' with my girlfriends 

singing traditional songs in Calabria 
a selection of cheeses at a small local market in Calabria 
100 year old Grandma offers cakes to young children from her front door
Catarina slicing 100 bread rolls- literally 

'snacking' on my terrace
getting ready for a party at my house- bike stacked and loaded

still enjoying lunch during a flood

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