Taking you back

I had no internet access when I was in Italy, but I wrote anyway, in hopes that the signal would find it’s way to town eventually; like when you invite say, Jamie Oliver to dinner. If he shows up, FANTASTIC! If not, well why would he?

From my first week:

It was Don, a nuclear physicist from Idaho who pointed out the fly resting on the door frame to me, posing as a bee.
“You can tell” he said, “because it has only two wings and a bee has four. Though the body is the shape of a bee, and striped like a bee, there is no stinger and the head is the head of fly.”
Who knew that in Mercatale di Cortona where everything appears exactly as it is, a fly would try to fake it. There is no lo cal ice cream or turkey dogs. Dinner in Italy does not suffer from an identity crisis. We are having pork chops on the bone, grilled over a wood fire with thick slices of artichoke sauteed in the pan. Over each, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and pour of olive oil so good you could drink it.

From my second week:

I changed my name to Sugar Delicious. Who wouldn’t once you knew it was an option? Kay started talking about her friend Sugar at breakfast and I said, if there is such a name as Sugar, I’m just going to have to change my name.” Before we drove off to Montevarchi, where Prada and sugar is available in all its glory, we roasted ourselves a chicken stuffed with lemon, mascarpone, rosemary and garlic. The trick is to tie, season and sear the whole bird first, one side a time to a deep dark golden brown. Push sprigs of sage, rosemary and thyme into the bird with a half a lemon and a whole head of garlic, cut in half. Under the skin, all over the bird, gently slide in a mixture of mascarpone, minced fresh rosemary, and minced fresh garlic, seasoned with freshly ground black pepper and salt. Roast at 350 degrees until a small sharp knife inserted into the thickest part between the leg and the thigh comes out hot to the touch. Serve with a pile of string beans and handmade gnocchi tossed with butter, garlic and parmesan. Finish with a clean green salad, taggiasche olives and chunky croutons dressed with parsley leaves, olive oil and lemon. It’s hard to drive after such a big lunch, but we managed, and walked through olive groves, shopped for Prada shoes and gel, witnessed a thousand cakes being made from a near 60 year old mother batch starter and sat outside in the Bonci garden for dinner. Oh happy day.

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