Day 10 – It’s not a vacation until someone gets sick

It was bound to happen.  We came prepared.  But still, when Sophia’s skin turned so hot to the touch that it seemed her pajamas gave off steam, it was a serious disappointment and just plain sucked.  So she and I spent the day at home; her on the couch watching Tom and Jerry and Looney Tunes cartoons on DVD, and me outside writing in the garden and doing endless loads of laundry.  It would all be sort of pathetic if not for the grape vines surrounding my “desk” and scent of basil, thyme, rosemary and lemons drifting through the air.  There are worse ways to spend the day in Italy.

Isabel and Corey did all the shopping at the market in town and later at the grocery store in order to restock the house.  Here’s what we’ve learned so far about Italian supermarkets.  First of all you weigh and tag all of your produce yourself.  The girls LOVED this.  You put your veggies or fruits on the scale punch in the unique code written on the little price sign and out come your label with the weight and price on it.  You slap it on the bag and off you go.  Another thing we’ve learned is that it’s very hard to find fresh, refrigerated milk.  The Italians much prefer the shelf-stable kind.  When you do stumble upon the cold milk its only sold by the liter which is a very small amount for a family that eats cereal every morning and has kids that actually drink glasses of milk.   We also can’t find mustard anywhere.

My sister in-law hired a private chef to cook at their villa last week.  She asked him why the bread in Italy was so bad.  That’s right – it’s bad.  It has no flavor; it’s all very white, floury and unsatisfying.  The chef told her that Italians don’t add salt to their bread because they always top it with such salty mixtures – cheeses, fish, olives, vegetables marinated in olive oil and salt.  That makes sense, I guess, but in the end the pasta is so amazing practically everywhere you go that it makes up for the lousy bread.  Or you can go ahead and order crostini and relish the topping that is supposed to be the star anyway.

Needless to say we’ve been eating well.   Having such fresh ingredients and herbs from the garden makes it a pleasure to cook.  It’s also a treat to cook in a beautiful, well-designed kitchen with the door open to the garden and the sun shining through teh screen door while you cook.  I feel like I’ve been finding my cooking chops again.  I had definitely fallen into a rut at home even with all of the fantastic food stores near our apartment.

Being in a new place with different stores and new food experiences, fresh cheeses and pastas, good wine, its fun to try some new combinations and just mess around in the kitchen and see what turns out.  Plus, we’ve been eating together as a family every night, which is something we only do once or twice a week at home since the girls go to bed so early.  They usually eat around 5:30 and we eat closer to 8:00 after they’ve gone to sleep.  Since we’ve been in Italy we’ve kept the girls up later, around 8:30, and we all eat together at about 7:00.   Not a practice we’ll keep up at home when they have camp everyday and come home starving like they haven’t eaten in months demanding dinner the second they get off the bus. But for now it’s a really nice addition to the family vacation.

penne with spicy tomato sauce, squid and langoustines.  meat filled mezze luna with sage butter sauce.  roasted cherry tomato focccia

penne with spicy tomato sauce, squid and langoustines. meat filled mezze luna with sage butter sauce. roasted cherry tomato focaccia

This is an orginal beccarama.com post

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