26 February 2009

Last steps in the snow

video

Who said Italy was all about sun? Since I moved here in October of last year, I have never seen so much rain, or never slept under so many blankets. Yet for a person born below sea level and used to endless horizons, this winter is/was a special one, mostly spent at 700 meters above sea level. There are the mountains of the Abruzzo National Park, always, when I look out the window. On top of that, the massive Velino ready around the corner to take my breath away: a big, big stone, 2486 meters high . I climbed it this summer and am still in awe (and not just of my own achievement...). It taught me that the best use of sun rays is mountain glow.


Some work I did


December, January and February were thus mostly spent indoors, also because I started my new job as a translator for INRAN, the Italian National Institute for Research on Food and Nutrition. I translate (Italian-English), amongst other things, the Institute's website and their Guidelines for a Healthy Nutrition. A great job, especially as I work at home! The picture shows the view from my window and also the "cat tv", a place from which the cat guards the little square and keeps me company at the same time.

Some things I ate

Yet who said Italy is a lot about food is right - partially, though, since like everywhere, it is what one makes of it. Just that here, the stuff to make something out of it seems a lot better. The emphasis lies on simple, ingredients go over compositions; perfect for a soul like me. When something tastes good by itself, why spoil it by adding things?

Some favorites, clockwise:

* topinambur, or Jerusalem artichoke: the cooking water turns green after a while! (Probably a chemical reaction to the pan's metals)

* olives and fresh mozzarella di bufala: cliché, but what can I say?

* puntarelle: bitter, but as all green vegetables taste good with oil and salt!

* minestrine: just water, tiny pasta, salt, parmigiano and some olive oil to make me happy!

Some places I visited

A trip was made earlier this month, to the Puglian town Martina Franca. Three days of being stuffed with specialties as stracciatella, orecchiette, salad of raw artichoke marinated in lemon, and many fresh oranges. All locally produced, of course. I am now unsure whether I prefer Sicily or Puglia, food-wise...


Martina Franca is a town to literally get lost in, but I was brave and found interesting things in the tiny white streets, where my photographic eye seemed to be on the lookout for details. On the way back to Central Italy, we visited the area around the Basilicata town Matera and were once again treated with stunning landscapes and our beloved cruschi (crunchy-fried sweet peppers).



I went to Rome many times, to the Netherlands to celebrate my 30th birthday and sometimes I even (!) made it to join Bruno on his ventures in 'his' Abruzzo mountains. This week, I went with him to the National Park, one hour from our home. Goal: "I want to see a fox" We left at 5.30 in the dark cold morning to look for them. Some dead foxes and glimpses of foxes in the streets of Berlin apart, I had never really seen a fox and knew that they are a beautiful mix between a dog and a cat (leaning more towards the cat side, fortunately) and not too shy. High up in the Park, there were stretches of meadows covered with snow where many foxes had been spotted. We managed to see four that day and I even got to see the humble spectacle of a fox jumping snout-first in the snow to catch a mouse - twice! (New goal: wolf)


(picture by Bruno, and thanks to him my pics are now looking better!)


Some thoughts I have

Knee-deep snow, maybe the last of this season for me? For sure I am looking forward to spring: reading books and planting plants on the huge roof terrace; smelling Rome in spring the first time in 12 years; learning more about wild edible plants; eating licorice ice cream in Tagliacozzo; going out on the bike to the countryside; climbing to "Croce" on the hill behind my house more often and of course eating the food that season brings.