Torta Pasqualina, my mum’s spinach and ricotta pie. Just like coming back home

aprile 22, 2014

Torta Pasqualina Spinach and ricotta pie

When you drive to teach a cookery course your mind is focused on the goal, you go over again your recipes, you rethink your makeup clothes and hair. Hopefully you have tucked into the car tank all the necessary ingredients and above all you did not forget any essential tool. Like, have you ever made a Florentine arista without a butchers’ twine to tie the meat? No? Well, don’t do that.

When you have a goal to reach, you are focused on the road, you hope not to meet a hitch, you don’t want to lose yourself, you cannot. Every obstacle, a tractor in the countryside, a level crossing, a wrong turn, takes you away from reaching your goal. You have to respect schedules and commitments already fixed.

Coming back home is different. You can often afford to look around yourself, you can enjoy the view. There’s a specific moment that charms me every time, those few minutes before dark, when the sky fades into the blue of the evening. You are in the car alone with your thoughts, you turn on the radio and search for a song to bring you home from station to station, to sing out loud even if you’re out of tune. I always find myself looking at the silhouette of the trees that stand out against the pale sky, you think about your day, you foretaste the feeling of dropping all your bags at the first step into your house.

In this moment I am usually taken by a strange feeling, a sense of calmness due to have done what I was supposed to do. This is the time for me, the time to be back home .

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What does summer taste like? Arancine di riso. Fried rice balls from Sicily.

aprile 18, 2014

Arancine di riso. Fried rice balls from SicilyWhat does summer taste like? I can think of several flavours, changing like the sea waves. Lately I would say pasta with fried eggplants, the most vivid memory of last summer that we spent on a beautiful house just on the beach in Maremma. As a child I would have said watermelon, rosemary focaccia and fried doughnuts. During university my summer had for a short time the taste of Sicilian arancine, the scent of jasmine and the sun bleached colours of a holiday in Pachino, the southernmost tip of Sicily.

In the following years I rejoiced many times in those little perfect moments of a holiday spent with friends. We would scorch ourself at the beach during the hottest hours of the day, as befits four young people who did not understand anything about the timing of the day. We were constantly bathing as tea bags to find some refreshment, then we would come back in the late afternoon to Pachino, perched atop a hill not far from the seaside. We found a little café, Bar Ciclope, and we adopted it. We would stop there before dinner every day, spending at least one hour sitting at its tables underneath the trees in the main square of the village. It was time for a hearty snack. The food tastes just better when your hair is still soaked with salt and your skin is still brackish, when you lay on the chair feeling a deep and relaxed tiredness that only a day spent in the water can give you.

As usual we would order one cannolo, one granita and one arancina. Each. You know, you have to sustain yourself with food when you have such an active beach life. The late afternoon snack would invariable become a happy hour, then we would run to Laura’s grandma to have a typical Sicilian dinner. How to say no .

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Chocolate and semolina tart to celebrate Easter and a new book I’m working on!

aprile 16, 2014

Chocolate and semolina tart

I got off at the right stop of the metro, I walked for a while along that unknown street in Milan and I started thinking that maybe I had taken the wrong direction. She told me that I would have recognized the tower, but I couldn’t see it, just many big office buildings. I spied in every lobby I met along the way, hoping to recognize a logo, to find a sign telling me that I was in the right place. Eventually I found it, I went in in a blaze of emotion, I gave my name and they gave me back a visitor badge. “Cross the courtyard and go up to the eleventh floor”. Well, I think it was the eleventh floor, but it could have been the seventieth, I was blinded by my emotion.

I went out and I saw it, there it was the RCS tower, a skyscraper that intimidated me and at the same time made ​​me feel proud to be there. The elevator arrived and a group of people joined me in. They asked me “Which floor?” and at that moment I felt like I was in a movie. When the elevator door opened to my floor I found everything you can imagine when you think of a newsroom. Books, books and more books, people working behind their desk, colours, notes, more books. I was stepping inside BUR publisher.

One hour later I left, I had a step so light that I felt like I could fly. I picked up the phone and when I called the first four people I screamed without even waiting for a reply: I’m making a book! So now I can do the same with you: I’m writing a cookbook with BUR Rizzoli!

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