Ciao amici,
Sono tornata dalle vacanze! I'm back from the holidays!

Well, I was back a week ago, only, apparently, I needed more rest. So Nature came to the rescue and gave me a week of Covid. Doppietta! We doubled.
All I can tell you is it was as harsh as the first time but shorter, way shorter.
So anyway, I'm here to relate nice things Italy, although this time there's going to be a short detour since we spent two weeks in Florida and Luca, my husband, had a lot to say...

But Puglia comes first.
We spent our usual Summer week in Taranto, visiting Luca's family. And, as always, it meant pampering, food, and new experiences.

The food that welcomed us when we stopped for lunch in an "agriturismo", farmhouse, on our way was as traditional as you could ask for:
the cracker-like taralli,
Fave e Foglie (broad beans puree served with sauteed greens),
and Troccoli - a local spaghetti-like pasta "all'Ortolana", the gardener's way (fresh tomato, basil, and aged ricotta).
The sights that welcomed us were also familiar, especially during our early morning walks:
the fishers at work,
Taranto's famous mermaids,
and the Città Vecchia offering glimpses of an old-world lifestyle.
The (kind of) earned breakfasts held a couple surprises instead. Like the coffee served with a scoop of coffee granita (I knew the tea with lemon granita, not this version), or a Bocconotto-inspired cornetto filled with (tons of!) crema pasticcera and Amarene (sour cherries). For those of you new to this Apulian delight, Bocconotti (or Pasticciotti) are shortcrust pastry muffins filled with the above - and some variations.
Another surprise came from Luca's mom. For her birthday, she arranged a super cute family gathering: a pool and lunch day at a Trullo (cone-shaped traditional constructions).
The place was magical.
The rooms were furnished with olive wood, somehow shaped by local master artisans, and adorned with ceramics by other, always local, artists.
An arch and a double row of statues guided you to the quiet, dreamy swimming pool surrounded by olive and fig trees. Yes, sometimes life really feels like a movie.
And the lunch was simple and locally sourced: a charcuterie plate to start, "foglie di ulivo", olive leaves shaped pasta seasoned the same, delicious way as the Troccoli, only with the tomatoes grown in the estate and the aged ricotta supplied by a neighbor farmer.
And finally, to impede any attempt at bathing after lunch, a Bocconotto cake! We threw ourselves on the sunbeds and simply chatted until it was time to drive home.
We spent the rest of our vacation lazily sitting at Luca's nonna's kitchen table, chatting with her, bringing her a bouquet of "peperoncini" she can't live without, admiring her memorabilia and questioning her over her new find: Massaie (housewives) Salentine.
My last (gastro) adventure was a night out digging snails out of their shells and indulging, sincerely, more in their condiment (Cacciatora - tomato, rosemary, garlic, and sage) than their actual flavor. But still, I'm all about traditions and loved to see my father-in-law's, his sister's, and her husband's delighted expressions when savoring rustic and honest food from their childhood.
After a week's pause for laundering, we were on a plane to Miami, looking forward to sunrises on the beach (I love jetlag when flying west), pancake breakfasts, walks in Calle Ocho, the best dumplings I've ever had, and a long drive to the Keys, complete with stops to bath, the winds of Idalia, and delicious seafood. Oh, and our first-ever baseball match!
But we are Italiani, and we love not only to eat but to comment on food, wherever we are. So, in a funny, but believe me, totally respectful way, we entertained ourselves by compiling Luca's list of pros, cons, personal preferences, and dislikes of the culinary panorama of the US, of course, limited to our short, geographically spotted, touristy experiences. On that note, please, please go have a laugh watching this lady make fun of American "influencers" becoming experts in everything Italy after their five-day vacation.

Premise to it all: food prices skyrocketed in the US! Wow.
Second premise: feel free to answer and explain to Luca (us) what he might not have caught, what he totally missed, or if you agree on something.
So, without further ado... Luca's list:
  1. Use more olive oil: butter can't be the only option.
  2. Why is meat served in seaside restaurants? He believes if you're at the beach, you must eat fish and/or seafood.
  3. About the fish and seafood: no lemon squeezed (nor spices, spice mix etc) or sprinkled on top; you'll risk missing the flavors gifted from the sea.
  4. Why is wine so expensive in the US? You need a democratization.
  5. Americans are unbeatable masters at cooking corn, potatoes, seafood, hamburgers, and breakfasts.
  6. IPA beers in the US are the best in the whole world.
  7. We spent about an hour debating this: Cappuccino is for breakfast and only breakfast. Occasionally, a mid-morning snack. Not a dessert. And no, you can't compare it to Tiramisù. He's not alone (you might have already seen this video, but just in case). Same fundamentalism applied to pizza toppings: sorry, pineapple.
  8. There's no need to add garlic to absolutely everything.
  9. Wine with ice is a sacrilege.
  10. There's no sense in pasta that is not "al dente".
  11. And pasta is a main dish, not a side dish. Mac and Cheese should be a main, so good it is.
  12. Vegetables must be cooked, not just blanched. - I know you'll answer: neither overcooked.
  13. A dish can be plant-based; give it a chance.
But you know what the truth is? We are so glad each tiny part of the world is different. We are so glad that, by traveling, you couldn't ever get bored, even if you tried. We are so glad that next time we step out of an airplane, train, ferry - whatever - an adventure will be waiting for us at a set table, at a market, during an explorative walk, or by meeting new people. We are glad that we must read more, question more, and observe more. We are glad to be so profoundly ignorant, so needy to learn: so much stuff out there still has the power to surprise us.

That's it for today, belli miei. My favorite season is about to begin, and so is my hunt for the perfect fallen leaf.



authentic cacio e pepe recipe

authentic cacio e pepe recipe from Rome #gourmetproject #italianrecipes #rome
Authentic cacio e pepe recipe for Roman food lovers.

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If you stumbled upon this newsletter for the first time...
My name is Claudia. I am a digital artisan, curator of the Simposio travel cookbook series, maker of Gourmet Project, an Italian food, travel, and culture website, and life-in-Italy narrator through this newsletter.
I live in glorious Rome. I love pasta, "melanzane alla parmigiana," hats, suitcases and airports, Christmas, and books.
Through this weekly correspondence, I aim to share what living in Italy truly feels like. Of course, this is my point of view: the neighborhood where I live, the places I go to, the food I eat, and the trips I take. I try to broaden it by recounting traditions, asking the people I meet, and time-traveling through my memories or those of the Italians around me. Hoping this will be entertaining, informative, and, most important of all, authentic!
Enjoy your read!

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