On Thursday night Mr. Pea and I returned from our first trip to Europe. We spent ten days (well, nine, technically) in Italy. I have an uncle who lives there and who repeatedly has requested visits, so we finally took him up on his offer and flew out last week. If you’ve never been to Italy, I’d highly recommend it. The beauty about having family there, besides the free room, was that we were able to learn more about the country than simply the tourist destinations. While we visited Rome and Florence for several days, we were also fixtures in my uncle’s tiny mountain village. We attended the community dinner a few nights before the Italian national holiday of Ferrogosto, and spent the evening of the holiday itself attending a procession in the village center, on top of the old medieval wall. How cool is that?
My uncle and his partner have also become extremely talented cooks of local fare. We feasted while we stayed there. I know most people say to go to Italy for the food in restaurants, but we only went to those a couple of times because my family has become quite adept at preparing traditional Italian dishes. They’d go to the butcher and veggie shops in the morning, and we’d have sumptious pasta dishes, delicious sausages and steaks, and fresh tomatoes and basil from their gardens. De-li-cious. Tonight I’m going to try to prepare what my uncle made us the first day we were there, I having been awake over thirty consecutive hours and Mr. Pea only a few less. It’s Pasta Amatriciana, and I’m going to make it with pancetta and canned tomatoes. As such, it might be tasty, but likely a pale imitation of that we had in Italy with fresh garden plum tomatoes and guanciale, the salt-cured cheek of a pig. Now I know you’re probably grimacing right now, and when he first told me what he was making I was a little grossed out at the thought, but I have to tell you–don’t knock pig cheek until you’ve had it. It puts bacon to shame!
Anyway, we’re still in recovery mode here–we were both wide awake at 4:30 yesterday and 5:30 today, as we haven’t yet adjusted to eastern time again. But who wants to really let go of that last bit of vacation, anyway?