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12 May 2010

vivid abruzzo

there is no place like home, right? i always thought this inappropriate, i identified with other 'home is not where you live, but where they understand you - 'home is wherever you find yourself' quotes best. by living an itinerant existence, they seemed more coherent with my lifestyle and gave me the illusion  of not suffering from not having a permanent home.

then i moved here to trieste and didn't go back often, partly because of the huge conflict with my parents. even though i was used to living away for long periods of time, and travelling extensively, this is the longest ever and it started to weight on me. i started to feel the nostalgia without feeling guilty for that. before, admitting this always caused shame, like if i was inflicting weakness in a wanderer and a perfect wandere never misses anything he leaves behind. now i know that there's nothing wrong in missing the place you grew up dreaming to go away. and i'm not changing my mind if i'm growing old wanting to go back to it.

i still think i don't like to live there for the rest of my life. by being nomadic i gained wisdom  from observation in ways that could not have been possible by remaining in my hometown. rthere're always more pros than cons. but i want to go now. i'm glad i finally sorted out my personal conflicts and are not ashamed to say how much i miss abruzzo and its people. and i want to cry it loud so that everybody knows. boy, opening up feels soooo good! :)

the thing i miss more is the people. i had the first real conversation with a foreigner today, and it wasn't with a local. it was with a turkish guy. in about 20 minutes i got to know more of him than of anyone i've been meeting here daily for the last 3 years.

it delights me, but it also makes me think. i believe that some races are more friendly than others in the first place. it's in their genes and they can't help. i shouldn't take it personally, it's just like that. on the other hand, it's pretty annoying. i've always reputed myself to be very tolerant and in no need of others, i always believed i could sustain myself. now i know it's still true, but that if someone is friendly, it helps. it certainly cheers your mood. and i'm not weak if i admit this. (oh yes, imy strict side always prevails!)

this all leads to the basilar fact that there's a difference between northern and southern italians. i don't want to generalize but, yeah, life is more relaxed in the south and people are more expansive. and i miss that. i miss walking in the streets and knowing there could be familiarity, if i needed it. take last week in palmanova. i met an acquaitance at the local ikea. we just said hello and that's it. in the south, that would have been an event, with long chats and coffee together and maybe even the debut of a friendship. not here. here it's just coincidence. see you tomorrow in school, and goodbye!

anna is in the middle, the others (clockwise) are: dimitri, marco, maria, natasha, rosamaria, stefania, francesca, caterina, diego, cristiano, stefano and giovanni.

you guys rock! i miss you xxx

and then there're the landscapes. i found out they're part of me and that i always try to look for a resemblance in the places i settle. in this particular place here, i feel sovenia for this reason. the abundant olive trees of the coast, its gentle hills and relaxed people do remind me of abruzzo a lot.  i miss waking up to the amazing view of the majella mountain, the olive trees everywhere. this pic taken by my friend chiara (thanks, babes!) reminds me of the colors, plans and atmosphere of my childhood. this is how  abruzzo is to my eyes.

the food is another story and deserves a special chapter. oh my, that one is definitely a huge gap. it makes me feel i keep eating for surviving her, not for pleasure. nothing is as tasty as food in abruzzo. and i'm not being patriotic here. it's just that our cuisine has got personality. yes, that's right, because we've very simple ingredients, but we flavor them with peperoncino (red hot pepper), aromatic saffron and fruity olive oil, so that each course is a glorious feast.

take pastries, for instance. they tend to be unsophisticated, olive oil is often used instead of butter, but nuts or dried fruits provide bulk and flavor.  and sheep's milk ricotta, a favorite in central italy, shows up in many fritters and sweet cakes. the ones i miss more are the very traditional taralli (celli ripieni in dialect, which means filled birds), made with chestnuts, almonds, walnuts and orange jam, and the yummy bocconotti (small bites). the traditional are filled with jam, but my favorites are the ones with almond chocolate filling, though my mother bakes a cocoa filling which is a heavenly treat.

but let me start from the beginning. this post is in honor to my beloved (rediscovered and reappreciated) region, so i want to write it right. among the first courses, the food i miss more are the spaghetti alla chitarra (guitar spaghetti). i can buy them here too, but it's nothing compared to the fresh pasta made with 'lu maccarunar', the flat rolling pin on a wooden box with strings (hence the name guitar) used to cut the dough.

what i can't definitely buy, instead, are the sagnitelle, because they're typical of the place and can't be exported. they can be eaten alone in a tomato soup or enriched with beans (sagnitelle e fasul).

had i been in abruzzo last month, i could have eaten rivers of sagnitelle, because on april 27 and 28 there's the feast in honor of saint vitale, the patron of the city of san salvo. on that occasion, the women prepare the sagnitelle in the square (wide flat pasta) and then cook them in copper boilers and offer them to the people, like they do in this video.

obviously, the guy is very funny and they're joking that he's the only man baking sagnitelle among all those women. he speaks in a very strong dialect.  

many families still raise their own pigs in abruzzo. i know this sounds horrible to vegetarians, but every winter there're succulent hams, salamis and sausages, which are special second course delicatessen. my favorites are la ventricina, la porchetta and of course the mythical specialty, the arrosticini. ventricina is pork salami spiced with chili and wil fennel, aged 3 months at least. i prefer the one made in guilmi.

porchetta is roast pork, heavily salted and stuffed with garlic, rosemary and other hearbs. the most traditional way to eat it is between two halves of bread. this is the thing i'm starving for at the moment :)

arrosticini are made with meat of high quality because they have to be cooked for a ong time. the meat is cut in chunks of different sizes, it's lamb alternated with pieces of ovine fat. this mixture provides more tenderness and a more pleasant smell.  this plate originates from the food consumed by shepherds and inhabitans of the mountainous areas of the region. arrosticini originate from the food consumed by shepherds and other inhabitants of the mountainous areas of the region.

shepherds produced lots of cheese too, of course. among these, scamorza is the best. it's pear-shaped plastic curd cheese (same family as mozzarella) made from cow's milk,. it's buttery and delicate, it is meant to be eaten within 3 days of production. the smoked version is usually grilled or spit-roasted.

the wine that accompanies these plates is the magic montepulciano, our most important red, which is plummy and velvety. we also have a delicate and dry white, il trebbiano.

well, all these pics made me hungry, i better go and eat something now. but i do that a pizza can do instead of these delicatesen! argh!


  1. Oh, I´d love to eat some of the delicious meals of your region, they all look so yummy! Love to read and now more about your home town.

  2. Molto bello!! Complimenti!! hai visto? finalmente sono riuscita a creare l'account google...... ma devo commentare in inglese?? :)

  3. no rosa, puoi liberamente scegliere la lingua che vuoi, anche se sarebbe carino nei confronti del pubblico scrivere in inglese si.


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