Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Why Italy?

On my list of 100 Things I Want to Do, Italy figures in prominently, with visiting Tuscany and watching some olive oil harvesting among the things to do.

I love to cook. More than that, I love to eat.

Italian cooking - real Italian cuisine - is so earthy and delicious and soul stirring. For some reason though, these past few months, I've not been as inspired as I've been before. I've had more time to cook, more inclination, but no inspiration.

That post I wrote about how we made Jamie Oliver's Leeks and Papardelle pasta (for which Google seems to send lots of people this way) was the last time I felt all taste buds light up with glee. We even made it a couple of months later, and for some reason, although it was quite delicious, it wasn't quite the same.

This happens to me often when I try a new recipe. When it's completed and sitting on the table, ready to eat, there's the surprise and the delight in seeing it all come together, the anticipation of eating it.

And I think it's the combination that jolts my taste buds into overdrive.

But one thing never fails to disappoint for some reason, and that's good olive oil.

While on vacation last year in San Francisco, we happened by the Stonehouse Olive Oil stall at the Ferry Building one Saturday.

The oils they offered for tasting were a riot of flavors and tastes, from garlic olive oil to first-press. Some were potent, with the olive flavor bursting forth. With others, there was the merest hint at the oil's provenance.

We shipped several bottles home for ourselves and for gifts. And later I was thrilled to find the Olio Santo at my grocery store.

I'm fascinated by the processes and inspiration behind things that are beautiful or delicious.

Heck, I must be some sort of process junkie because I can appreciate nearly anything more if I know about all the work that goes into it.

Throw in rolling hills and beautiful, tree-lined vistas dotted with old stone farmhouses that have stood for hundreds of years and I'm in heaven.

So Italy, being both beautiful and a bounty of deliciousness, looks to be a double whammy.

Have you been to Italy? What was your favorite part?


fishwithoutbicycle said...

I've been to Rome and Milan, so only a taste of Italian city life for me, although I would love to drive the Amalfi coast someday

Spandrel Studios said...

Hi, Fish! At least you've been to Rome and Milan - those would be on my itinerary, as well. And the Amalfi Coast, that would be dreamy... a friend of mine recently went to Lake Como and had an extraordinary vacation, eating fresh figs from the garden of the flat they'd rented.

Seems like the whole country really knows how to live!

Kitty said...


I wouldn't mind being in Italy right now. Geez.

I lived in Italy for a summer during college. It was amazing and I wish I'd stayed longer. I was in Tuscany and made a trek to Rome through all these hill towns.

Mark and I need a vacation!
Hope you try your recipes again soon!

Spandrel Studios said...

Your semester in Italy sounds like a dream, Kitty! I bet the scenery in those hill towns was pretty spectacular, the kind of vistas that imprint themselves on your memory forever.

Every time I speak to a college student considering a semester abroad, I urge them to go. It's one thing I regret not having done!

bob c said...

aaaah - Italia! Non c'e male! Like Kitty I did the semester abroad thing in italy as well. Spring in Firenze - a great home base for visiting a plethora of small towns in Tuscany on the weekends. Naturally I prefer Tuscany over Rome or the coast or Venice but all of those have their great qualities as well. I sometimes dream of people-watching & wandering the streets (my favorite ways to visit a place) of Florence or any of the nearby hill towns and swear it was real when I wake up.
The smells (from the restaurants to the raised armpits on the quattordici bus to the gardens to the leather in the market), the way the women walk across the piazas in what seems to be slow motion, the sounds of vendors dragging their carts down the cobblestone streets at 5am, the breathtaking interiors of the cathedrals, the sounds of pigeons being chased by children, the ooohs and aahs as people get their first glimpse of David or the Florence Baptistry doors or Sistine Chapel or the oculus in the Pantheon, the sharing of vino, food & laughter that overcomes a group of newly-acquainted strangers in a way-too-hot train car stuck on a train that hasn't moved for 1/2 an hour for no reason etc. It's all oh-so-good!

Spandrel Studios said...

OK, Bob, this proves it: you need to start a blog!

Your descriptions of Italy are amazing - feels like I just took a little vacation!