My happy moments from 2014, New Year’s resolutions and snow

The Snow Queen Milla.

The Snow Queen Milla.

It’s snowing from yesterday. Italy, the land of the sun around here looks pretty much like Winterfell, but I’m not Arya Stark even though I got her short hair and her surly attitude.

town hall square in Campobasso, Molise, Italy

Town hall square in Campobasso, Molise, Italy.

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Quite a lot of snow I would say.

Milla, my 9 year old cocker spaniel is snoring at my feet enjoying her cozy blanket. I guess in a perfect wintery scenario the only things that are missing in the picture are the sound of crackling fire and a hot chocolate with marshmallow. Too bad I don’t have either of them, but I can fake it with the virtual fireplace sound on a 5 hour long youtube video and a Nutella jar.

Usually the end of December leads to make new resolutions for the next year, but they almost never work, at least for me, like the classic losing weight, or spending less money on unnecessary stuff. Because let’s face it, these two are the hardest promises to keep for a woman, am I right?

The last couple of months have been really tough on both G and I, so there’s not as much enthusiasm to start a new year as the previous New Year’s Eves. However, I feel it’s necessary not to give up to negativity, so the one and only resolution I am making for 2015 and my future as well, is to work really hard on myself in order to start finding happiness in every little thing.

2015 will be a year of change and I know it for sure. It’s not just the holidays’ atmosphere to do the talking, but the recent circumstances that are pushing me to do something, more like a make it or break it kind of situation.

I like to keep this blog as a drama free place, so I want to start my important resolution from here.

As you might have previously read on The Weird Frittata, every month I like to write a chart/bucket list of products/places I loved and recommend. This time it’s different, because I’m going to write what made me happy during 2014 even what it looks like to be negative, because I want to believe there is a bright side in everything.

So, here it is:

  • The early months of 2014 spent at home in Italy with my family. Even the unemployment has its own bright side, because I could treasure every moment with my parents and relatives (you know, Italian families are quite big). I had the wonderful experience of reconnecting with my family and enjoy my Nonna’s cooking, which I tried to recreate and practice as much as I could. Needless to say that her special recipes will always be in my heart for ever.
  • Moving back to the UK. This time I discovered London from a new perspective experimenting with ethnic restaurants, discovering new recipes and hipster places, just what I needed after a long Italian winter. This rediscovery made me realise how much I love food and the industry that gravitates around it, to the point that I would like to blend in and be part of it. Even though I’m thankful to London for each life experience I had, my love-hate relationship with this city keeps going on, and I’m afraid it’s not going to last that long. It’s like when you get back with your ex and you know that after the initial happiness the old problems will rise again. In fact, here I am again in a “It’s not you, it’s me”, kind of phase and I am grateful for that, because I know that I need to look for something else in my life. Rather than something, it’s somewhere.
  • House sharing again, Thank you London rental prices! Seriously how could this be positive? You might ask, but I’m now more convinced than before of what I want for 2015. Respect is the first answer and I could go on, but anyone who has shared a property knows, for example, how hard it is to keep it clean without ending up in an argument with the other flatmates.
  • All the job interviews gone wrong. You can learn from your mistakes, they say and I’m sure to have learned something about myself and how to deal with these kind of situations. Luckily, it’s not all about me. There are lot of jerks who think they are entitled to treat applicants like trash, because they are in a position of power. I am thankful I don’t have to deal with them on daily basis.
  • Now something not about me. G. finally entered the career field he chased for a long time and I’m happy for him to have found his own path. It’s just the beginning and will be difficult but seeing the person I love being happy makes me want to work hard as well and pay him back with the same positivity he gives me every day.

I saw on Pinterest something called resolution jar and I believe it’s a nice idea to keep the positive mood throughout the year. What you have to do is just fill an empty jar with notes about all the good moments you have during the year and then, around the end of December, you can empty the jar and go through all of your notes to remember those positive moments that we tend to forget in favour of the negative ones.

Now for all of you lazy people out there (including me), this is a lovely idea but also a commitment as well, so find whatever works best for you: a notebook, a board, a calendar or just an app on your smartphone, but never stop staying positive!

I’ll try my best, you should too.


Happy New Year, guys!

Sunday pastries, an Italian classic

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Memories come back unannounced, unexpectedly, leaving us amazed at how daily routine distracts us.

I was in Norwich, packing my suitcase to fly back home in Italy the next day, but I desperately needed a padlock, because some nice guy at Rome airport cut the one I had, apparently to do some security checks. Just to clarify, I wasn’t smuggling anything else than Parmigiano.

So while I was looking for a suitable padlock at the hardware store, I started talking to the owner who was happy to help someone who – you could definitely tell – was not in her usual context. He asked me where I was going to and as soon as I said I was going back home in Italy, he said: “Well then bring me back some Sunday pastries, that’s how they’re called, right?” Sunday pastries? Bam! epiphany! and I’m back to my childhood again.

Sunday pastries are all those desserts, namely pastries or monoportion cakes that are covered and/or filled with cream, custard or fruit just to name a few. These pastries are usually eaten after the Sunday lunch with the entire family and represent a childhood memory common to many Italians. Well, at least until metabolism or diabetes strikes.

I remember I couldn’t wait for the priest to pronounce the end of the Mass, so we could go straightaway to our most trusted Pasticceria (patisserie) where the ritual could get started and my senses awaken. First, as I opened the door I could smell the reassuring fragrance of sugar and vanilla, a promise of what was going to happen next. Then I used to spend a couple of minutes staring at all the types of pastries because I was fascinated by their shapes and their bright colours, as I couldn’t believe they were handmade only using simple ingredients. I didn’t give much thought at this at the time, but maybe that’s how my passion for baking started.

My mother knew I loved that moment, so she allowed me to chose and indicate to the nice lady what pastries we wanted to end the meal with: cannolo for me, millefeuille for my father, my mother’s favourite sfogliatella (shell shaped pastries filled with sweetened ricotta) and a fruit tart for Nonna.

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Without any doubt, every child like myself waited patiently the end of the lunch, to finally tear up the wrapping paper around the cardboard tray and then resume the ritual of the senses that was suspended in Pasticceria. I used to take my cannolo and then enjoy the sound of puff pastry cracking under the fork and followed by the eruption of sweetened ricotta. The actual taste of the pastry was of course excellent, but it was the whole experience that made it special.

Unfortunately, growing up and leaving home changes the daily life, so moments become memories buried in some hidden angle of our minds until someone or something makes us remember. There we are, again, older and nostalgic but with our bellies always full.

Enjoy your Sunday.

And now in Italian.

I ricordi tornano senza preavviso, inaspettatamente, e ci lasciano stupiti di quanto siamo distratti dalla routine della vita quotidiana.

Mi ricordo che ero a Norwich e stavo preparando la valigia per tornare a casa in Italia il giorno dopo. Avevo un disperato bisogno di un lucchetto, perché prima del viaggio di andata, qualche addetto alla sicurezza dell’aeroporto di Roma ha tranciato quello che avevo, apparentemente per fare alcuni controlli di sicurezza. C’è da dire, però, che non stavo contrabbando altro che del Parmigiano.

Così, mentre cercavo un lucchetto adatto alla mia valigia, ho iniziato a parlare con il proprietario della ferramenta, che era felice di darmi una mano, anche perché si vedeva che ero come un pesce fuor d’acqua. Mi ha chiesto dove stessi andando e appena gli ho risposto che sarei andata a casa in Italia, mi ha subito risposto: “Beh, allora quando torni portami le paste della domenica. Si chiamano così, giusto?” Paste della domenica? Bam! che ricordo! ed eccomi di nuovo bambina.

Non vedevo l’ora che il prete pronunciasse: “La messa è finita, andate in pace.”,per andare subito alla nostra pasticceria di fiducia, così che il rituale potesse iniziare e coinvolgere tutti i sensi. Per prima cosa, una volta aperta la porta della pasticceria già il solo profumo rassicurante di zucchero e vaniglia mi rendeva felice, perché era una promessa di ciò che stava per accadere. Poi stavo lì un paio di minuti, a fissare tutti i tipi di paste, perché ero affascinata dalle loro forme i loro colori vivaci. Non potevo credere che fossero fatte a mano utilizzando pochi semplici ingredienti. Non ci ho dato molto peso a quel tempo, ma forse è così che è nata la mia passione per la pasticceria.

Mia madre sapeva che amavo quel momento, così lei mi faceva scegliere e indicare alla simpatica pasticciera quali fossero le paste che volevo consumare con la mia famiglia: un cannolo per me, la diplomatica per mio padre, la sfogliatella per mamma, e una crostatina con crema e frutta per Nonna.

Senza alcun dubbio, ogni bambino come me attendeva pazientemente la fine del pranzo, per strappare finalmente la carta che avvolgeva il vassoio, e quindi per riprendere il rituale dei sensi che era stato sospeso dal pasto domenicale. Ricordo che prendevo il mio cannolo e mi godevo il suono della sfoglia croccante a contatto con la forchetta, seguito da un’eruzione di ricotta zuccherata. Il sapore vero e proprio della pasta era ovviamente eccellente, ma era tutta l’esperienza che rendeva speciale il momento.

Purtroppo, crescere e andare via di casa cambia la vita quotidiana, così i momenti preziosi diventano ricordi sepolti in qualche angolo nascosto della nostra mente, fino a quando qualcuno o qualcosa ci fa ricordare. E all’improvviso torniamo indietro nel tempo, ma più vecchi, più nostalgici e con la pancia sempre piena.
Buona Domenica.

Memories and thoughts about snacks for children

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I often tell my friends about my childhood and some particular food connected with good memories. For me it was “Pane e Pomodoro”, a slice of bread rubbed with ripe tomatoes and finished with salt and olive oil. During summer, I used to go to my grandparents’ house near the sea, and I remember my mum giving me my pane e pomodoro after swimming in the afternoon. I also remember other kids asking  their parents for some ice cream as their afternoon snack, while I was so happy devouring my pane e pomodoro. Simple but amazing at the same time. Don’t get me wrong, I would have loved ice cream too, but my parents tried to feed me the healthiest options they could, so I was not really allowed to eat ice cream everyday as my young peers did.

Then we grow up, unfortunately, and we just go on, distracted by daily life. We don’t really think about these memories until one day, when something occurs and we start to remember about our past and think about our current habits. One winter afternoon of 2010, I was on the bus heading to Trafalgar Square when my attention was caught by a grandfather with his 6-7 year old grandson. The kid was hungry, so his grandfather gave him a Mars bar, which was devoured in literally three seconds, and after that the kid was fed a Milky Way bar. At that point the bus arrived at my stop and I got off, but I kept wondering if that kid had a third chocolate bar. It’s not just that episode that made me think, as I often see toddlers eating MacDonald’s in their strollers. Now, it goes without saying that allowing young children to frequently eat junk food is equivalent to give them wrong eating habits, which are likely to cause significant health repercussions.

I can only base my opinions on my personal experience and on what I see when travelling around the world, so it would be interesting to find out about how snacking habits change in each country. For example, I noticed that English native speakers tend to snack on chocolate or cake while Asians children are less likely to consume the same amount of sweet goods.

Let’s be clear, I don’t have a healthy food obsession, as sometimes I indulge myself in snacks I should not eat, but I am proud to say I have good eating habits thanks to my parents and the way they raised me. I am not really sure about what happens in other countries, but the increase in childhood obesity makes me think that parents should put more efforts in raising their children in order to become responsible adults.

I think I’m definitely going to have pane e pomodoro for dinner tonight.

Image Credits here.
And now in Italian

Spesso racconto ai miei amici di com’è stata la mia infanzia e di alcuni ricordi legati ad un cibo in particolare. Per me è la merenda con Pane e Pomodoro. Durante le vacanze estive, andavo spesso a casa dei miei nonni al mare, e ricordo che ogni pomeriggio, mia mamma mi preparava pane e pomodoro al ritorno dalla spiaggia. Un sapore semplicissimo, ma era così buono! Mi ricordo anche che, mentre io divoravo felicemente il mio pane e pomodoro, gli altri bambini chiedevano ai loro genitori di poter fare merenda con il gelato. Anche io avrei voluto mangiarlo, ma i miei genitori hanno sempre preferito scelte più sane per la mia alimentazione, ecco perché non mi era permesso mangiare quotidianamente il gelato come facevano i miei coetanei.

Poi cresciamo, sfortunatamente, e ci facciamo distrarre dalla vita di tutti giorni. Non facciamo più caso a questi ricordi, fino a che un giorno qualcosa ci fa improvvisamente pensare al nostro passato e alle nostre abitudini attuali. Un pomeriggio d’inverno del 2010 ero sull’autobus che andava a Trafalgar Square, quando la mia attenzione è stata attirata da un nonno e suo nipote di 6 o 7 anni. Il bambino aveva fame e il nonno aveva prontamente scartato una barretta di Mars, che era stata divorata in pochissimo tempo. Qualche secondo dopo al bambino era stata data un’altra barretta, stavolta una Milky Way. A quel punto ero arrivata alla mia fermata, ma ricordo di essermi chiesta se quel nonno avesse fatto dato a suo nipote una terza barretta di cioccolato. Non è stato solo quell’episodio a farmi riflettere, perché vedo spesso bambini piccoli che mangiano MacDonald’s nei loro passeggini. Ora, è chiaro che permettere ai bambini di consumare frequentemente del cibo spazzatura equivale a dare loro delle cattive abitudini alimentari, che potrebbero avere delle notevoli ripercussioni sulla salute.

Le mie opinioni si basano solo sulla mia esperienza personale o su quello che mi circonda quando viaggio, perciò mi piacerebbe sapere come si fa merenda negli altri paesi. Per esempio, ho notato che i bambini di origine anglofona mangiano moltissima cioccolata o torte, mentre gli asiatici consumano molti meno dolci.

Giusto per essere chiari, non sono una persona ossessionata da cibi sani, anche perché molte volte mi concedo degli snack che non dovrei mangiare, ma sono orgogliosa delle abitudini alimentari che i miei genitori mi hanno trasmesso. Non so cosa accada di preciso negli altri paesi, ma a giudicare dall’alto tasso di obesità infantile, penso che i genitori debbano impegnarsi notevolmente per far sì che i loro bambini diventino degli adulti responsabili.

Penso proprio che mangerò pane e pomodoro per cena.

Image Credits here.