Thursday, September 29, 2011

Food glamour shots/What I've been up to

So, since the weather here is still fantastic, the beaches empty, and the tourists well behaved, I've had a lot of time to just relax in the afternoons before work. I've cooked Indian (a success might I add, even though I couldn't find spinach and substituted arugula and our house smelled like downtown Bangladesh for four days), improvised a few chicken dishes (here, it's the "other" white meat - no one eats it!), brought a bit of Calabria to Liguria, and taken baby steps into Jewish cuisine (latkes!). This takes time and groceries. The stores here, as I've mentioned, close from 12:30 to 4:30, and that can be a bit of an obstacle planning wise since we usually don't eat lunch until 2. So, Manuel had the idea to call his mother and have her send up some groceries for us one afternoon.
Being a girl seemingly constantly worried about bothering other people or inconveniencing them in any way, I'm next to him as he's on the phone waving "NOOOO!" as he's asking his mom for all sorts of stuff - salami, cheeses, meats, bottled water. Worried, he gets off the phone and I start to ask, obsessively, if she is mad at us, if she thinks I'm lazy for not shopping, and so forth.
Boy did I read that wrong. Italian mom's in Italy are exactly as they are in the U.S.
Her concern was not that I was lazy or we didn't want to go shopping, but,
She sent up enough food for a family of four for a week. No joke. An our tiny Euro-Fridge is now a dangerous death trap of eggplant and peppers. Whenever you open the door, you have to jump back from the assault of falling vegetables.
This attitude of his family carries over to their restaurant as
well. Last night was Wednesday, and the Cantina is closed while the Restaurant is open. We went there at about 9:30, I again worrying we were inconveniencing his family by taking up a table or making
his mom take our order. After the fifth course, we begged his parents (his dad in the kitchen, his mother graciously checking in on tables in the packed restaurant) to stop sending food. It was all delicious, but even 5 small tasting plates make up a pretty hearty meal with wine. Local trill Ligurian style with tomatoes, potatoes, pine nuts and olives, followed by sole stuffed with an eggplant puree and then swordfish with a mint and
basil pesto, fresh plums and arugula. Next came another local white fish with capers and a broccoli cream sauce, then finally, breaded, lightly fried Ligurian swordfish with a red pepper cream
and wilted radicchio reduced with red wine and aged balsamic. I was absolutely stuffed.
Here I am, worried that we're eating when they could be concentrating on other actual
guests, when his father comes out of the kitchen in his chef outfit, annoyed.
"Why don't you want more food?"
His mom, "You hardly ate anything!"
"Have some tiramisu!"
"No?? Ok, then you have to have the homemade frutti di bosco sorbetto - caldo - it's for digestion. What do you mean no? Just a little, just a little. No, no, take it. I'm just going to put it down, eat what you want". (Note: the homemade sorbetto was in a parfait form with some warm, local berry compote, hence the "hot" sorbet).
A scene similar to every dinner I had growing up. It's nice to know that parents, are, well - parents. No matter where you go in the world.

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