Italian Seasonal Fruit far from Krögers.

 

 

“Un kilo di fichi per favore!”

Voreei  un etto di more, e un melone intero!”

“Magari, se aggiunga un’ po’ di uva non sarebbe male!”

Seasonal fruit varies from region to region, and obviously place to place. A wonderful thing to point out is that after being able to comprehend a “Kilo is a kilogram.“, and that a pound does not amount much in weight. The humble, Italian signora tending to her fruit stand, selling fresh products, is also able to teach you a vast amount of valuable information on how to choose the correct type of locally grown fruit.  Like a sage, she can guide you on how to use your senses of smell, touch, and sight, so you can become a master on how to choose correctly the perfectly riped fruit for the current period of the year. With September about to arrive, and this being the time of prickly pears. Prickly pears, known as fichi d’india, are flourishing, ready to be eaten. Deriving  from the southern areas of the country like Sicily, Sardegna, and Puglia. They are quite common to find in shops, and on stands in huge quantities. Now that we are in the time of year in which we are able to find a rich selection of fruits, my Italian neighbors, and I are lucky to find shops plenty of  figs, melons, apples, grapes, and incoming pears to stuff ourselves!

 “La Frutta Di Stagione di Septembre” Mini Vocabulary:

Take note to follow the farmer’s advice pick the riping fruits by the end of September under a waning moon. Make sure to read up what fruits are ready for attention in relation to your area.

Un grappolo di uva - A bunch of grapes

Un melone - A melon

Le more - The blackberries

Un figo - A fig

Un ficho d'india - A prickly pear

Una mela - An apple

So that being said.

What does Seasonal Italian Fruit have anything to do with Krögers?

Good question, let us keep moving on.

Tonio Kröger,

a 1903 novel of self-reflection by Thomas Mann.

Having won the nobel peace prize, this particular book’s main character was Tonio. The character, essentially  who felt constantly torn between two worlds was one of a complex personality. Partaining from two distinct nationalities, and what one could superficially believe two diverse social clichés. Was the son of a rigidly bourgeois, German Consul, and a lively, artsy mother from Brazil. The man finds his sensitive nature, attracted to the arts, and the intellectual life constantly under self-relfection. The book’s starts when the man was just a child of fourteen years. Feeling like an outsider, and not similar to other children, Tonio, had a name so unique. Unlike his beloved friend Hans, who through horseback riding, and athletics gained him popularity amognst his peers. Kroger felt separated from the rest preferring poetry, and letterature. This causing him to have a difficult time being able to relate with others, specifically to his dear friend that he loved. Tonio returning back to Lübeck,a city in Germany, after many years as an adult decides to embark on a  journey of reminiscence to see his father’s home in quest for understanding, and to connect to his roots. Finding his home to be clearly altered, this detail, among many others is a clear use of symbolisim used by Mann’s part to represent a deep-seated  meaning. The character, also risking to be arrested along his journey towards Denmarks, finds himself going deeper, pondering his dear friends to understand his need to resolve his personal dilemma.

“Art is not a handicraft, it is the transmission of feeling the artist has experienced. ” Tolstoy

 

What do you think? Do you like peaches or pears?

Vivid Grey, The Duomo of Milano, and Hip, High Fashion.

 

 

Being far from humble, Milan is somewhat discreet behind the vivid grey atmosphere that pertains to the city’s unique charm. Just as one arrives to Milano Centrale, the center train station, a visitor finds themselfves in the second most largest station of Europe, a focal point, connecting Northern Italy to various surrounding destinations. One should not be confounded when being drawn in, welcomed by the multitude of passing commuters, as it is the capital of the region of Lombardy. Of immense importance, already in the distant past, Milan, once was called Mediolanum. Conquered by the Romans in 222 a.C from the celtic ethnic group of dubbious origins named the Insubri. The city is now a melting pot of entrepreneurs.  Still currently part of the famous “industrial triangle” once formed with Genoa, and Turin. Today’s formation changed to Milan, Padua, and Bologna. Many Italian imigrates transfer themselfves from all parts of the country to this city in hope of  a better future.

Not a suprise, the city defined as one of the “Big Four” High Fashion Capitals across the globe along with Paris, New York, and London. Milan, to the newcomer may seem like a gigantic, open shopping mall. Where on every corner there is a business of some sort. Difficult to comprend for the non-adaptable, make shure to be hip, and up-to-date like the locals with Google Maps in your cellphone, on hand to guide you around. Milan is similar to  a labyrinth.

It took many centuries to complete the well-known, gothic cathedral of “Basilica cattedrale di Santa Maria Nascente”, known simply as The Duomo. The cathedral’s large dimensions of size far passes that of St. Peter’s Basilica of The Vatican City. Under the guide of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, Milan’s first duke of Pavia. His desire to build a house of worship was inspired by the innovating European architectural modes of that time. Starting a quest to build the cathedral in the style called the Rayonnant Gothic, this style, pertaining to French architecture of the mid 1200s, and 1300s was new at that time. The cathedral was built with many other diverse designs in the course of ages, making it a historical landmark of a bizzare kind. You may wonder, how does it feel to be in the prescene of such piece of history? To be truthful, it bewildered me with the divine variety of detail of its “decor”. A person, like myself finding herself infront of such view could not help, and not succumb to a moment, resting speechless,  allowing myself to feel pleasantly ignorant.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, just near Piazza Duomo was my preferred place when visiting Milan. The structure built in 1867, representing within the context of imagination the era to perfection, had me dreaming to be an elegant contessa of the era walking, fashionably dress underneathe the tunnels. Now, being the location, of many bars, and restaurants whoes focus are clearly directed towards tourists. The historical library called Libreria Bocca, with a story dating back to 1775 is one of the oldest of Italy. It’s first location being in Torino opened by two brothers named Giovanni Antonio Sebastiano, and Secondo Bocca. I was glad to find myself casually in that place. The librarian, and the various client’s friendly manners, along with the shop’s creative interior design could not help cause me to have a smile on my face. Every writer would dream to sell a book in there!

Of course, like the majority of places you require more than a day of to be able to see it, and a life-time to know just a part. What I can state from a personal prespective, it is not difficult to become distracted by the shops when visiting Milan. Tempted by the many colors that contrast the vivid grey hues of the city, it is easy to forget to visit the historical monuments. So be hip, when in Milan do what the Milanesi do, in which I can truthfully say I have no clue.

Heaviness of Being? Opt for a Cappuccino parlando Italiano.

 

At times its best to opt for a cappuccino, and leave the book left closed on the shelf where it has been found. Let us take into account what happened to myself in two separate, and distinct occasions. Walking, in a humble coffee shop in Rome one day, a long while back, there it was, a teal blue book on a shelf. The shelf, where a sign stated that “the books are free to good home”, obviously written in the Italian not using the same form of words, had many reads that awaited for their possibility to be taken, and to then be read like any decent book should. Despite feeling genuinely enticed to choose the book. I decided to stick to what I was doing, by asking

“Buongiorno, voreei un cappuccino.” to the waiter who served me.

A quickside note:

How to order a Cappuccino in Italiano 101:

The equivalent phrase of

“Buongiorno, vorrei un cappuccino.”

is “Goodmorning, I would like a cappuccino.”

A cappuccino is an long expresso shot, diluted by warm, steamed, milk foam. They are common to find, and available in every normal bar throughout Italy. You will be asked if you would like some cocoa powder, and/or cannella sprinkled on top.

So be not suprised after ordering a cup, if the server will ask politely:

“Vuole un po’ di cacao?”; it is rare that they will ask if you want cinnamon too. So remember, to keep that in mind. Either way, you know the cappuccino is well made if they are able to make a cocao heart right on top of the milk foam. Which I adore! ❤

The Unbearable Lightness of Being written by Milan Kundera.

The second encounter with the same book was in another unpretentious coffee shop near Milan. In need of what I personally consider to be my beloved elixir, this time as I entered, saying  “Buonasera.” my attention, as it would habitually do. Begain wandering about, guided by the sight of the “free used book” shelf in that coffee shop. A teal book, the same novel of the one of about a year ago was there, laying faced down. Left to be read for any curious soul like myself. Observing the book within the palm of my hand, there I instantly was able to remember to have seen that book before, so this time I decided to give the book a chance, taking it home with me.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being is an novel written in 1984 by the naturalized French, Czech author of the name Milan Kundera. Based on four characters, and a dog of the name Karenin. The canine’s name, inspired by Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, of course, was used to represent a profound overall meaning. Two men, and two women, are the subjects in which Kundera’s philosophical point of views where speculated on. Bringing up matters in relation to various schools of thought, it was undeniable that he had a message to give. As the characters shared a common thread of trying to understand their freedom through their sexuality, the book goes through a series of events in which the characters grasped on each other, untruthfully with themselfves, and their actions in a consistent search of a “lightness of being”. Struggling, within their self limitations, and making choices based on some sort of personal need to escape. The Soviet occupation of Prague, in that famous year of 1968 obviously could not be the most bearable of situations.  Being a painful experience for anyone.  Reading the book, I found it to be quite un-enjoyable for myself personally, by the heaviness of the stories. While each persona played the “perfect role” representing the artsy, intellectual of that time, looking at it from the contemporary world’s perspective it felt rather a cliché.  While I did not have a character that I liked.  I did somewhat admired Tereza, for being the sweet, fotographer she was. Doing photojournalisim durring the Occupation of Prague, Tereza must have been strong hearted. Making me comprend that she had much strength in tolerating the “imperfect” world around her.

That being said, despite that I will never read this wonderful novel again. I will take note what it has taught me. Which are the following; three major points, be truthful with yourself, be respectful,  and be happy with wonderful cappuccino! ❤

(Scheda del mio Libro: L’insostenibile leggerezza dell’essere, Milan Kundera,  Adelfi, 1985)

 

Da Padova to Venezia, a Way Of Life.

 

 

Padova, and Venezia, two jewels, in a rich, popular region of the name Veneto are cities that resides on the north east of the Italian peninsula. This irresistible region, with its vast range of culture is an ancient focal point for the humanities. Also being one of the most popular regions of Italy as a vacation destination, its cultural identity remains intact despite of the many business locales for tourisim like fastfood, and so forth. As read, legends says that the Venetians seem to be linked far back to the the Fall of Troy,  also connecting their far past to Anatolia, or like other historians believe, even to the Celts. They, the Venetians, where called “People of The Wind”, which is not much of a suprise as this region is situated on the fascinating Mar Adriactico (an area of Mare Nostrum). Venice, in particular was one of the richest maritime republics in the world. An important point of exchange, even today with it’s many tourists you can still feel a residue of the past.

The heartfelt trip, started with its first stop in the city of Padua. Padova, as written in Italian, was, and still is a spectator of important artistical influences. The Tuscan, Giotto at the Cappella degli Scrovegni, with his elevated art of the 13th century, and the various mix between gothic, Romanic/Byzantine, influences of the Basilica di Sant’Antonio, they are just few of the many evidences of such history. My hotel in an ideal spot was right beside of the Basilica di Sant’Antonio. I had the chance to spend much time observing the sacred works that belonged to the Basilica of the Saint from Lisbon. The majestic reliquies, the green interior gardens,  and the many symbols on the walls where fascinating. After having spent the rest of that quick stay, roaming the streets of Padova’s center eating ice cream at Venchi, and having a glass of Gewurztraminer (Alto Adige Doc) at the well known, elegant Caffè Pedrocchi. I headed down to what is said to be the second largest piazza of Europe called Prato della Valle where a festival was being held that night to celebrate Ferie Augustae. Being another very important place, the delightful location, had 78 statues of important men of various sciences along with obélisques that held high along with the much adored statue of Dante.

Not expecting that Padova was such a short trip by train to Venice. It amazed me to find myself so arriving so quickly. Everything ancient, and luxurious it was also very welcoming with it’s old mannerisims. Right as I took foot, I wanted to stay. Many tourists flooded the steets, dragging each other along full of excitement. The city bursting with liveliness, one could not help feel as if there was a gigantic celebration taking place. I was staying at a hostel, in the area of Giudecca. Perfect for someone like myself who prefers silent, and intimate places without too many people around. Giudecca, being one of the eight minute islands. Just residing at the south of Venice, without much proof, it was hypothesised that it’s name derived from two Sinagoghes that currently do not exist as they where destroyed durring the 16th century. With another theory stating that it’s name derives from past activities of “concia”, which is the tanning of leather. Who knows the truth? The historians may. All I can tell you that now it is a suggestive residential neighborhood.

It was easy to get lost in Venice. I enjoyed wandering around without a map just allowing myself to be there. With such a little stay, time fleeted, and as I walked around gazing at awe what needed to be seen.  I passed by San Marco Square reminding me of “Crooner” the first story part of Ishiguro’s Nocturnes a recent read of mine. Prefering, to eat berries at the dock, chatting to the locals with the company of cappucino, and snacking on little yellow lupini while walking down alleys to see the sights. I found much peace. My best moment was taking a two hour boat-ferry at night while listening to waves, and the cooling air around the islands. That being said, it was a wonderful trip, and if there is still so much to learn about Antonio Canova, Giovanni Bellini, and many other masters that had influenced this grand city. I have learned alot durring the way.

 

Local Goodies, The Distant Tahiti, and Elle Italia.

 

 

What is in common between the magazine Elle Italia, a bowl of local grown nightshades, and Monoi De Tahiti? Not, much unless you have a vivid imagination to figure it out, but if you do happen to have one let us wonder one moment. Elle magazine originates from France of the 1940s. The ambigous fruit, Solanum lycopersicum, also nicknamed “The Apple of Love” by Queen Elizabeth I, derives from a distant time, and place. Monoi a product from Tahiti, a sacred oil, used by the French Polynesians. Happens to be a pleasantly scented oil, a product now you may find in many profumerie throughout Italy. Per fortuna!

So where are the connections? There are many, but lets save our rational thinking for other topics, like science, and go back to simplicity just to point one thing out.

That is the fine detail.

The fine details are the minute things, that for many can go unnoticed. They are the types of profumes we wear, the colors we prefer, that special coffee we enjoy drinking daily. They are the little things that many may not note as important, but in the sum reveal to us who we really are. Diverse people may go all their lives unaware the of the profound shape of words, the intonation of emotions, and the senses’ reaction to the vast enviroment in which we are emerged in. Yet, there are others, on the other hand that can feel through it to their own various degrees of personal perspective. Some can see the details of a dress, they can take notice of the interchanging values tween belief, and true worth. Then there are also some so keen, they are even capable to feel it in the food they eat.

Fine details are many, they are everywhere, just like the hue of the light that shatters from a light source. It is bound to affect you. Mine? The fine details that I intentionally  implement in my daily routine is a long list, because of the simple complexity of my nature. Along with reading Elle, and having a bowl of local veggies set like flowers on a table. My favorite detail is Monoi De Tahiti. It’s scent of Gardenia Tahitensis, the flower of the tropics, can easily take a person afar, and having myself yearn of distant lands. To imagine the flowers being freshly picked to then have wrap around one’s head for a lovely crown is a lovely imagery to dream about. It’s minute detail after a refreshing bath is a happy reminder of the beautiful details of life.

Visions of Amaruka, a Centuria D’Amore.

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The poetry book Centuria D’Amore, adapted from Meghadūta, Amarusátaka, Caurapâñcâśikâis under the care of the Italian, Indology linguist, Daniela Sagramoso Rossella, and with the introduction of Giuliano Boccali is more than just a translated poetry book exclusive to love.  The captivating tale behind it’s creation is one mystery. That mystery being of the life of Amaru, a man whoes dead body was said to be entered by Adi Shankara.

Shankara, an Indian philosopher and theologian of the 8th century, as a celebist; in hopes to learn all about the subject of eroticisim spent 100 nights within the deceased Amaru’s body. In hopes to get a better understanding. To believe, or not to believe would be question of debate. There is not much information available. This piece of Sanskrit history is a collection filled with many vivid tales of passion, intrigues, fidelity, and so forth.

Of all books, this is a book I will forever keep. The reason is that my deepest, and most sincere memories of love comes from pondering, and contemplating this selection of poems. While I wish I could write more, as it being an interesting topic to be delve into. I will keep my personal thoughts simple, because obviously I am not an expert to type much.

( Book’s scheda: Diretto da Giuliano Boccali, Il Gange, 1989, Marsilio Editori Venezia, traduzione Sanskrito da Daniela Sagramoso Rossella)

Afrodita: When Bread is So Good.

 

It is so typical of people to refrain from bread. In a calorie counting crazed society, who would not be? To be truthful I never keep it around, and the same goes with the pasta.

So untypical for an Italian-American, I know.

Yet, there is this vision of mine similar like a personal wish. That wish is to have always fragrant, freshly baked bread at home, and to have a kitchen constantly running. The kitchen, a place of peace. A place, where people can learn to share a space. A place to master the senses, and refine that one most important quality called “patience”. Like a classroom of a school, a classroom as a kitchen, you do not necessarily need books to learn everything.

“Real soup is to the body what peace is to the soul.” – Isabel Allende

Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses, was written from a mature woman’s perspective of love, passion, and intimacy. Isabel Allende a well affirmed author, and journalist from Chile with many creations published, gave us this treasure of a book. The title dedicated to history’s most adored, goddess of the name Aphrodite. Who could not feel the attraction? The book contains the concoction of many things, as it expresses itself in a way to take it’s readers to many different scenarios, and wild places in the realms of love”making”. Obviously, one can not think a better way of making something as that of  making bread.

Not to be judgemental (it is not my intention), certain points of the book did seem to become slightly dull, and various ingredients are not explained well into depth. What saves me from not being distracted away from the book is the sense of how Isabel Allende transmits what I consider to be of foremost importance. The heart. The heart when it comes to making love, with making food, with eating, and so on. Her connection to her roots is immensely touching to make a person ponder. Love, food, and roots these three words can not help, but remind me of what is the most important things in life.

The book also have many quotes of poetry, so delightful, and uplifting each dedicated to that spicy subject. My favorite of Srngarakarika, Kumaradadatta in which if you want to read the exact poem you must do so by the book. This is not a place for spoilers. Containing a wide selection of recipes, many recipes, in which a person should try. The ones I did came out to perfection. My favorite recipe section is the part for salses.

That being said. Lets rejoyce ourself to food, and drip our bread into fountains of olive oil the same way we abbandon ourselfves to sincere passion. Food is precious, and with it the world is a better place.

I would like to thank the gentle woman from Chile that gave me this book. She knew I needed to read it. ❤