Monthly Archives: December 2008

Scenic

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Top Pop Songs

If you come to Italy any time soon, you like me, will have the pleasure of hearing this song many, many, many times. Paul and I call it “The Wheat Song”  and once you see the clip, you’ll understand our clever naming convention. For the record, it’s actually titled Il Mio Pensiero (“My Thought”) and the singer is Ligabue, aka The Italian Bruce Springstein.

Also popular with the Romans: Beyonce’s If I Were a Boy (most played grocery store song, ever) and of course Viva la Vida. This is Europe after all, so Coldplay needs to be on the air all the time. (And just when you thought you couldn’t hear any more CP, a new single has come out. Yay, twice the fun.)

For more Roman rock news, check out Italian MTV’s top 20 countdown. No. 1 is called Alla Mia Eta, which means “At My Age”. Sadly, I don’t understand any of the other lyrics.

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Bruschetta

Pronounced “broo-ske-ta”. (Dear Webster, don’t worry.) It’s a simple dish, think garlic bread, usually a snack or starter before dinner. Recipes vary but you can never go wrong with a fresh tomato and herb version that Paul and I learned a couple of years ago during a cooking class in Tuscany. My interpretation of the recipe follows. *Note: whether you weirdly pose simultaneously as Ryan and I have is up to you. Either way, enjoy!

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Ingredients:

  • 4-6 ripe cherry tomatoes or 2-3 plum tomatoes finely diced (big tomatoes would work — they just need to be sweet and ready)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic diced
  • 4-5 fresh basil leaves torn or cut into small pieces
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 nice loaf of bread (baguette, ciabatta, etc.), sliced and toasted in the oven with a little olive oil on both sides
  • Pineapple platter belonging to Italian bachelor landlord, optional

The ingredients above will make about 8 toasts, which is good for 3 people. The exact amount of each is up to you, but the ratio should follow the order above. Mostly tomatoes, then olive oil… Once everything is cut up into fine pieces, combine all ingredients in a bowl and let sit for about 20 minutes (or longer) so flavors can marry and integrate. Now this is important: the secret of the toast is rubbing it with a clove of raw garlic just after it’s out of the oven, before you add the tomato combo. After you do, heap on the tomotoes, as much as you can fit on each one. There will surely be juice leftover in the bottom of the bowl; don’t discard. Either drizzle over the toasts or put in a small bowl for dipping. You’ll be happy.

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“Prego” the all-purpose word…

Due to a nasty little cold, things are phlegmy here and I haven’t been out much. So, I’ll share a great lesson from Frommer’s Irreverent Guide to Rome :

You don’t actually need to know Italian to get by in Rome but the language is fun, and the locals, unlike the French, are charmed by even your most pathetic stabs at basic phrases like “thank you” (grazie–pronounced graht-see-eh, not “grodzy” or “gracias” as most Americans believe), “good morning or good day ” (buon giorno; before 2pm) and “good evening” (buona sera; after 2pm). Mammi mia can be used all the time to express frustration, incredulity, shock, relief, even glee. Prego (literally, “I pray”) is perhaps the most useful word of all: It can mean “You’re welcome,” “Please go ahead of me,” “May I take your order?” or in some cases, “I didn’t understand what the hell you just said in your garbled American accent; please repeat.”

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Grand

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Anatomy of an Italian Apartment

Exhibit A: Drying rack above the sink, but behind cupboard doors. Genius.

(And pay no attention to the clutter, etc. This is our temporary apartment. The perma place will be much more chic. Maybe. Ok, at least it’ll be full of our gorgeous new wedding china instead of an Italian bachelor’s hand-me-downs. But back to the topic at hand…)

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Exhibit B: Washing machine is located in the bathroom, or kitchen, and either way takes more than 2 hours to complete a cycle. There is no dryer.

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Exhibit C: Men do a lot of housework in Italy. Molto bene!

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Epic

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An Ex-Pat Thanksgiving

What happens when you combine 10 adults, 5 children and 2 turkeys overseas? The ultimate ex-pat Thanksgiving, plus a little poultry rivalry. Dan and Amy (hosts of the fiesta just two weeks before) graciously supervised an amazing spread. Highlights:

  • The best stuffing I’ve ever had (sorry Mom and Grandma) was prepared by a Swiss friend living here in Rome. It turns out that any lack of American know-how can be completely remedied by adding TWO kinds of bacon. Eat your heart out pilgrims.
  • Our pumpkin pies were prepared by a Californian, living in Moscow, visiting Rome for the week. The best part: she had to use an actual pumpkin. There is no Libby’s pie filling in Italy.
  • My contribution included roasted carrots, green beans with lemon and garlic and potatoes. The original request was “mashed potatoes” but since we don’t have a masher in our temporary apartment I went with “smashed potatoes“…but no one believed me that it was a real recipe. Guess they don’t have the Food Network here.
Eric, Melissa and Amy in the kitchen

Eric, Melissa and Amy in the kitchen

Dan and Scott

Men at work: Dan and Scott

Max's first Thanksgiving (Dan and Amy's son)

Max's first Thanksgiving (Dan and Amy's son)

Turkey anyone?

Turkey anyone?

Just kidding

Just kidding

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Dramatic

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The 99 Euro Scarf

We didn’t realize.

But look at how warm he is!

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