Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I heart gazzosa


Not your ordinary Italian soda.

I love gazzosa.

Distinctly and intensely flavoured with the limone dfusato dio amalfi, this is indeed a national treasure and as such has been designated as a Slow Food Presidia (Biodivesity). Does it make it taste any better? For me, definitely. Because I know the protection afforded to these lemons by the Foundation means that they will be available for many years of enjoyment in the future.

The chinotto is also very tasty.

More bits (in Italian) on Lurisia Gazzosa and Chinotto here.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

San Giorgio


This is San Giorgio (Saint George). The Saintly reason we've traveled to San Giorgio Morgeto in late July is because the Feast of this patron Saint and San Giacomo is typically held on the last Sunday of the month. Last year was different and it was moved to the 15th of August to run consecutively with that holiday.


The day (or in this case, evening) starts with a mass and a procession where the statues of the Saints are paraded around town. Not so simple considering that these Saintly statues are HEAVY and the town is on a fair incline. After 6pm mass, it was well after dark when San Giorgio made his second pass of the fontana.

If you've been to Italy in the summer months, you know all about the local festivals. If you haven't actually been to one, you've likely heard it. No Italian city, town or commune would dream of a festival without fireworks.

As luck would have it, we also enjoyed the local music festival and the Medieval Festival. The former celebrating local performers and few from overseas and the latter celebrating the Medieval history of the city and the culture, food, traditions and pastimes of that era.

More on the Medieval festival later..

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lighting a fire

I love cooking with gas, over an open fire or (bliss!) a wood fired oven. However, regardless of the fuel source, I still need to light a flame.

Lighting a fire in Italy requires a bit of memory work for a visitor. I'd forgotten this until I was reminded by a friend also in San Giorgio Morgeto for the Festival.. but stopping at a tabaccheria or tabacchaio as well as the supermarket, butchershop, cheese shop or salumeria and possibly baker (if your bread isn't delivered to your door) isn't something your average Canadian would be familiar with, that is, if you're a non-smoker.

Why?

You just can't buy matches anywhere in Italy. The Italian state has a monopoly (and a website if you're interested) on tobbacco and everything associated with the use of it, including, but not limited to, fiammiferi (matches).

A tabaccheria also sells a various assortment of other seemingly odd bedfellows. Most importantly for a tourist: phonecards (recharge prepaid cellphones), bus/transport tickets, souvenirs, postcards and stamps. Snacks and drinks are also common. If you're staying awhile or permanently, it's useful to know that your local may also carry salt, newspapers/magazines, lotto tickets, tax and vehicle stamps. It is also possible you will find playing cards, shaving soap, toothpaste and sometimes videopoker/slot machines/pokies.

A much better explanation is available here courtesy of An Expatriate in Ripallo.

Grazie EiR.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

chiave

That sense of place exists for many Canadians of Italian descent.  I think none more so than those who are a son or daughter of the many who left later in life and still maintain their traditions on this side of the pond.  If you left Calabria when you were very young or were born in Canada to Calabrese immigrants, it is a distinct and unmistakable feeling of home when that plane lands in Lamezia and you enter the terminal to the arms of waiting relatives.

I think it exists for many people who make that decision (or have it essentially made for them) to leave home for 'something better'.  I have it when that plane lands in Nova Scotia or New Brunswick and I step out of the airport to the smell of the sea.  And although I've been away, my blood is still a little saltier than most, I know the damp sweet scent of the Atlantic Maritime forest first hand and I've spent many a summer birthday at the beach shrouded in a near record breaking 19th straight day of fog.. And while my passport might confuse you, am I a Maritimer?

You bet.

So while nothing in the deep South of Italy might be familiar for me (except the proximity to the ocean and the wonderful abundance of fresh fish), my husband and his family are at home thousands of miles away from where they live, work and spend their days. You can see it as plain as if it were the sun on their faces.


Zia's house (photo above) isn't where we'd normally stay. But with the passing a few years ago of the last remaining single Uncle, the old family homestead is closed and Zia had graciously opened her door to us. Setting our cases down on the terrazzo, opening the ancient brass sliding latches on the windows and looking out the surrounding gardens of fruit trees, grape vines and tomatoestomatoestomatoes, makes even the most sentimental Italian hungry!

Ok, thirsty too.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Siamo arrivato!

Like I remembered, southern Italy even smells warm. With the window down, warm warm air and sun in my face, we left Lamezia Terme and made our way south.

Inhaling the smell of sunshine and of a place that doesn't see a serious winter, the sunbaked earth, rock, never distant ocean and fields of growing things give Calabria its intoxicating perfume. This year, all was green thanks to an abundance of rain and the tomatoes, among so many other things, were ready.

This dish is one of ease and simple flavours. Hour old potatoes, garden warm eggplant (aubergine), peppers, onion, garlic, tomatoes and herbs dressed in fragrant, buttery Calabrese olive oil make for a great fry up. Some homemade salami and fresh bread complete the meal.

Pass the cirĂ²!