January’s favourites: 5 cheer-myself-up foods and drinks

Time, whatever happens it passes and doesn’t care if you’re late, you can call it bastard, but in the meantime it’s gone already.” says my rough translations of a song from the famous Italian songwriter Lorenzo Jovanotti. Time flies, it ridiculously does, and while I’m trying to figure out the important changes that are occurring in my life at moment, I suddenly find myself realising that an entire month is gone since my last post. It’s been stressful so far, considering everything is going on with my family, so keeping my 2015 resolution to stay positive has been likewise difficult, but I like to think I’m stronger than that, therefore fingers crossed because I don’t want to snap.

What I really like about myself, together with few other personal characteristics, is that my eating habits are not affected at all from the various everyday life circumstances. Even in the darkest of my days I never thought for one second to skip meals, because food is extremely important for me and if I don’t eat, neither my body nor my mood would cooperate to brighten the atmosphere.

During this month I kept myself up with these fabulous foods and drinks that I’d like to share with you guys. Who knows, if they worked for me they could do the same for you.

Almond milk. Ok it’s not technically milk, but more of a drink that resembles milk. Lately I’m having problems with regular English milk (yes, as weird as it sounds, the one I have in Italy is totally fine) so I thought giving almond milk a go, after I found out the soy one and I don’t really get along. I like the toasted flavour that matches my Illy coffee blend, but still, it’s not milk. That’s what, sometimes this January, has led me directly to point n.2.

Credits: Michael Kwan

Matcha latte. The Japanese famous bitter green tea powder exceptionally  combined with warm frothy milk by the skilful Timberyard baristas. A comforting treat which takes me back to the friendly atmosphere of Tokyo’s cafés.

Fresh mango with full fat greek yogurt and desiccated coconut. Ok this breakfast/afternoon snack came up by throwing in a bowl some stuff I had in the fridge, together with that desiccated coconut that was sitting in my pantry for too long. Thick rich yogurt for the creamy texture, coconut adds crunch and mango for a tropical sweet touch.

Talking about ‘Nduja here.

‘Nduja. The Calabrian spreadable spicy salami you can enjoy on your bruschetta or to revive your pasta sauce, or even better, you can melt it on your pizza to give that fiery Southern Italy kick. I also use to add it to soups, because it completely enhances the overall flavour.

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My last visit at Tonkotsu East.

Tsukemen: it was love at first bite when the waitress at Rokurinsha, Tokyo, brought me a big bowl of these thick noodles to dip in their rich pork broth. I never had the chance to eat them since that moment, almost three years ago. However London is always full of wonders, so when I found out that Tonkotsu East was serving tsukemen I had no choice but go trying them. What a joy it was! Perfect homemade noodles with the right porous texture that allows to absorb the broth. I won’t disclose any more details guys, as I’m preparing a review with an another article about my personal ranking of ramen bars in London.

So these are my January’s favourite foods and drinks, but I’m always looking for something new to cheer myself up with, so I can’t wait to hear about your suggestions.

Let me know, guys!

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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!

A day in Naples and the best pizza in the world. Gino Sorbillo’s review.

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Vesuvius volcano.

Naples is like a lioness, beautiful, haughty and arduous to tame. The collective consciousness about the third city of Italy is made up of diehard preconceptions: a poor, anarchic and at times dirty urban centre on the slopes of a volcano. I’m not here to say this is just not true, because each and every stereotype always has a pinch of accuracy. Also, if the essence of a community remains strong throughout centuries, not necessarily the said people won’t open to change for the needs that modern times demand. What I would like to point out here is that although I come from a region that borders with Campania (the region where Naples is the main centre) and my dialect is strictly similar to the Neapolitan one, due to centuries of Neapolitan domination in the fragmented South, I also had preconceptions. I had them because the last time I visited the city I was about ten, and well, almost 20 years ago the situation was a bit different than it is now. The neglected architecture of the buildings always stays the same, just as some grotesque “personalities” you can find in the narrow alleys that form the map of the city centre. However, this time Naples felt cleaner and safer. It’s true that Christmas is a busy period for the city, because tourists from every part of Italy and the world hit the San Gregorio Armeno alley, to visit the artisan workshops specialised in the creations of nativity scenes. For this reason it would be only logical to consider the hard work of the municipality as something special for the holiday season, but apparently the city is dealing with an actual desire to change, in order to make the ancient capital of southern Italy a modern European city. Some results are already showing, just like the project Stations of Art which is aimed at changing the perspective of the city’s perception by allowing contemporary artist to take over the design and architecture of some underground stations. In fact in 2012 Toledo station was chosen as the most beautiful underground station in Europe

The wonderful mosaic of Toledo underground station in Naples. Project by the Catalan architect Oscar Tusquets Blanca. Credits: The New York Times

Where does food place itself in this context of traditions looking at the future? Exactly in harmony with everything else. Street food is a market that lures young entrepreneurs, because they have the chance to offer the classics of Neapolitan gastronomy in a new light by enhancing the traditional preparation methods, using quality Italian products and social networks to promote their business in the quickest way to the public. This is just what happened with the famous Gino Sorbillo’s pizza that I finally had the chance to try. Gino Sorbillo for whom pizza making runs in the family, is a young talented chef. His passion for the traditional Neapolitan pizza motivated him to improve it by researching and experimenting with mother dough, different organic flour blends and ingredients in order to find an excellent and easy to digest recipe. Gino Sorbillo’s research never stops, in fact it seems that he is trying to create a dough specifically for coeliac disease affected people with the same texture, taste and digestibility of the regular one used in his 3 pizzerias. The ingredients used as toppings are all the best Italian products the country can offer, with their origin and traceability stated on the menu. In other words, Quality. Yes, with capital Q.

Now let’s talk about the experience: image10 The location. You’ll recognise it from afar even though you’ve never been there before, because there’s always a queue that looks endless. You have to be patient, because sometimes it’s necessary to wait hours to get a taste of the best pizza in Italy (and the world in my opinion). My advice is to go either at the opening around 12 or after lunch time at 3. This doesn’t mean you will not queue at all, because as I said the place is always packed with people, but the wait is more “human”. image3 The pizzeria is an ancient two storey house, property of Esterina, Gino’s beloved aunt who passed the passion for pizza on to him. The decor is minimal because all the attention is concentrated on the product. Anyway, in my opinion it wouldn’t harm to modernise the retro style of the place, but retro is not to be intended as the vintage design that is so trendy right now. I am talking about 90’s Italian, so last century!

The service is very fast even though the waitresses aren’t smiley or chatty. I would have certainly appreciated some more courtesy, but I understand that heavy shifts and dealing with every kind of people at a fast pace can get easily on everyone’s nerves. For this reason, there’s no tablecloth on the table and glasses are disposable, just like their napkins. When customers are ready to leave, a waitress comes and cleans the table in a few seconds, so it’s ready for the next group of people.

The pizza. The base is light and soft but doesn’t tear up. This is the result of working the dough and stretching it by hand only, because Sorbillo refuses to use industrial machineries. To those who are not familiar with Neapolitan pizza the dough will taste as still raw, but believe me, it’s not. You will realise it immediately, because after eating you pizza you will not feel full and bloated. As I mentioned before, high-digestibility.

My Osvaldo pizza.

My Osvaldo pizza.

I got an Osvaldo pizza which is made with cherry tomatoes, smoked mixed buffalo&cow’s milk provola cheese, mixed buffalo&cow’s milk mozzarella, extravirgin olive oil and fresh basil. Only 5€.

Vittorio pizza.

Vittorio pizza.

G got Vittorio, an amazing mix of Apulian tuna, Taggiasca olives, Mount Saro’s wild oregano, Italian organic passata and mixed buffalo&cow’s milk mozzarella. Price was 7.50€.

My vote is 9. Sorbillo’s pizza is extraordinary, the best I’ve ever had, because it is a combination of harmonic quality ingredients with a digestible dough, basically the dream. I can’t give more than 9, because some aspects of the overall experience can definitely be improved, but of course I recommend you to try Sorbillo’s amazing pizza because, I can assure you, nothing will ever be the same after that.

Gino Sorbillo, Via dei Tribunali, 32, 80138 Naples.

Does colour influence the taste and flavour perception of food?

Last Saturday I found myself staring at my partner’s cheeseburger questioning his choice of cheese: Red Leicester.

Red Leicester cheese @Neal’s Yard Dairy. The one in the burger was unnaturally brighter.

Last Saturday I found myself staring at my partner’s cheeseburger questioning his choice of cheese: Red Leicester. I had never tried it before last week, because that bright orange colour sincerely put me off every time I considered buying that cheese. The fact that it’s coloured with annatto, a natural extract of the Archiote tree’s fruit, still doesn’t convince me entirely. I’m not sure why, maybe it’s just an irrational instinct, but that colour in a cheese still feels unnatural to me. Never judge a book by its cover, right? So even though I had preconceived ideas, this was the right time to finally have a bite of that intensely bright orange cheese and prove myself I was just having unreasonable biases. A little bite full of expectations, I would say, but then a sense of confusion mixed with disappointment hit me hard: Red Leicester tasted just as regular Cheddar. (Forgive me, cheese purists!) Why was I experiencing that negative feeling? I kept wondering, until I suddenly got the answer: my brain and eyes just fooled me. Even though being surprised and, at the same time, fascinated by this phenomenon, I rationally tried to give myself an acceptable explanation: my brain did an association with a familiar cheese based on that bright colour. Red Leicester should have tasted nutty and sharp, just like my beloved Molisan Provolone Cheese when is aged for a couple of year and gets a warm golden shade. It’s not news that food companies add colourings to their products in order to alter their appearance, making them look fresher and more appealing for customers. It’s an effective technique that bears its fruits because we always “eat with our eyes” first. We start making choices about favourite colours since childhood and try to apply them to various aspects of our daily life. Neuroscientists claim that this is due to an early association of a positive feedback to a certain colour, so during our life we tend to recreate that comforting feeling by choosing the same colour, which often becomes our favourite one. Kids love coloured food because they can associate an exact colour with their favourite toy, or cartoon character. For example, It’s not rare, during the Italian summer, to witness children happily devouring a “Smurf  gelato”, which is nothing other than a blued dyed vanilla ice cream. Less happily their mothers will struggle to remove those stubborn blue stains from clothes, but this is another story. Anyway, sorry mum!

Gelato Puffo or Smurf Ice cream. @foodspotting

We are the same children, who grow up and change their eating habits for healthier and “more natural” options. We learn the importance of colour in foods as an essential characteristic to judge the freshness of a product, for example we experience the consequences of eating a steak that turned green, and painfully regret we didn’t toss it. Literally. In the meantime, the society we live in has shaped a stable idea about the food we eat, its wide range of colours and the flavour we associate with each one of those shades. In other words we develop a precise idea of what a certain food should taste like based on its appearance in our own cultural context. This is why we are confused, and at times disappointed, when this matching does not happen. Now, try to picture a young woman being tricked by her friends into drinking what looked like a blood orange smoothie. Then imagine her wide-eyed expression when, in a fraction of a second, her tastebuds rapidly experienced the strong sour and salty flavour of Gazpacho.  Yes, that woman shouting at her friends was me.

Yellow watermelon on hungryforchange.tv

Sometimes it can also be fun to see our cultural certainties crumble, like the first time I tried the yellow watermelon. I was visiting a nice Japanese lady in Tokyo, when she brought a beautiful blue ceramic plate with some precisely cut slices of yellow watermelon. Yellow? Thank God, she “couldn’t read my poker face”, but I was seriously puzzled inside. “That melon would have been sour, like every unripe fruit.” My stream of consciousness kept flowing in the few seconds necessary to thank my host and take a slice. A first bite and within a moment I felt so stupid! Because it was even sweeter than the common watermelon I crave every summer. I am sure that without this experience I would have never bought that fruit because of a preconceived idea. The mental association between the colour of a food and the assumption we have about its taste is a field that neuroscientists are still exploring, but recent experiments have revealed some remarkably interesting results. For example, an experiment conducted by the Ohio State University showed how using a red colouring in white wine led the unaware participants to describe the aroma and the flavour of the drink with adjectives belonging to the semantic field of red wine. Colours influence our daily life and even the choice of the food we eat. I am fascinated by the way our brain works, leading us to pick a specific coloured food over another simply because it gives us pleasure. However sometimes the same brain tricks itself and that’s when a new memorable colour related experience is created, whether it is positive or negative. What do you guys think about the influence of colours in the choice of our food? Please let me know in a comment below.

May favourites: 5 Italian food idioms that will make you smile

It’s over, my long months spent at home in Italy are coming to an end, and I will be finally moving back to London in a couple of weeks, with mixed feelings and few quids in my pocket. Right now I have too many worries that won’t leave me alone and, consequently, I rapidly find myself stuck on ideas about what to write about. I tried everything, but I still haven’t found a method to overcome creative block, because apparently nothing seems to turn my brain off, the real culprit of the self censorship I apply on my “stream of consciousness”.

While thinking about not to think I accidentally dropped a bottle of water and my mom sarcastically told me: “your hands are made of ricotta”. I laughed first, but then I thought it would be interesting to share with non-Italian speakers my favourite Italian idioms about food. Oh and by the way, hands made of ricotta is the equivalent in English of being a butterfingers.

  • “Friggere con l’acqua”, literally “frying with water”, means trying to achieve something without the necessary economic means, being stingy but still attempting at doing something that would require money. It often happened to me to be invited to dinner and compliment the host on their food and hear: “Well, thanks, we do not fry with water”, meaning they prepared everything without cutting corners.
  • “Essere come il prezzemolo”, literally “to be like parsley”, meaning to be everywhere considering that parsley is the most used herb in the kitchen. Lately this expression is often referred to “celebrities” or even better to people from reality shows who don’t have any particular skills but are constantly on television, newspapers and/or the internet.
  • “Preso con le mani nella marmellata”, literally “to be caught with the hands in the marmalade jar”, meaning to be caught doing something wrong or forbidden. This expression originated from the love that kids have for sweet food and when, back in the day, they didn’t have nutella or oreos, they used to snack on bread with marmalade, but not too much. So they were tempted to steal the marmalade and often caught with their hands in the jar, doing exactly what they were forbidden to do.
  • “Cercare il pelo nell’uovo”, literally “to look for a piece of hair inside an egg”, meaning to be a fussy, meticulous person who always looks for imperfections in every single situation. The expression comes from the impossibility of finding a piece of hair inside an egg.
  • “Gallina vecchia fa buon brodo”, literally “the old hen makes a good broth”. This idiom refers to a woman who is no longer young but has acquired wisdom over the years. Something tells that I’ll use this for myself in the future, distant distant distant future.

These are my 5 favourite Italian idioms about food, but there are many more as in any other culture, which I’m curious to know, so please leave me a comment to quench my thirst for knowledge.

Hope to get rid of creative block as soon as I can.

 

And now in Italian.

E’ quasi finita, i miei lunghi mesi passati a casa in Italia stanno arrivando al termine visto che fra qualche settimana mi trasferirò di nuovo a Londra con sentimenti contrastanti e poche sterline in tasca. In questo momento ho troppi pensieri che non mi lasciano in pace e, di conseguenza, mi ritrovo senza idee su cosa scrivere. Ho provato di tutto, ma non ho ancora trovato un metodo per superare questo blocco, perché a quanto pare nulla sembra riuscire ad azzittire il mio cervello, che poi è il vero e unico colpevole della censura che ferma il mio ” flusso di coscienza”.

Mentre pensavo a come smettere di pensare, mi è caduta una bottiglia d’acqua dalle mani e mia mamma mi ha subito detto: “hai le mani di ricotta“. A parte la risata iniziale, ho pensato che sarebbe stato interessante condividere con i lettori non italiani i miei 5 modi dire preferiti riguardo il cibo.

  • Friggere con l’ acqua: significa cercare di ottenere un risultato pur non avendo i mezzi economici necessari. Spesso mi è successo di essere invitata a cena e di complimentarmi con i padroni di casa per la bontà delle portate preparate. Quasi sempre mi è stato risposto: “Grazie, mica friggiamo con l’acqua”, cioè tutto è stato preparato come si deve.
  • Essere come il prezzemolo, cioè essere ovunque visto che il prezzemolo è l’erba aromatica più utilizzata in cucina. Ultimamente questa espressione è spesso usata per descrivere varie “celebrità” o meglio (peggio?) ancora partecipanti di vari reality show che non hanno alcuna abilità particolare, ma sono costantemente in televisione, sui giornali e / o su Internet .
  • Essere presi con le mani nella marmellata, nel senso di essere sorpresi a fare qualcosa di sbagliato o vietato. Questa espressione è nata dall’amore che i bambini hanno per i dolci e quando non c’erano le merendine, l’unico dolce che ci si poteva concedere era pane e marmellata, ma ovviamente non troppo. Quindi la tentazione più grande era quella di rubare la marmellata ma spesso si veniva colti sul fatto.
  • Cercare il pelo nell’uovo, descrive una persona meticolosa ed esigente che cerca sempre di imperfezioni in ogni situazione. L’espressione deriva dall’impossibilità di trovare un pelo nell’uovo, visto che niente potrebbe penetrare il suo guscio.
  • Gallina vecchia fa buon brodo. Questa espressione si riferisce a una donna che non è più giovane, ma ha acquisito esperienza e saggezza nel corso degli anni. Qualcosa dice che userò questo modo di dire in un lontano, lontano, lontano futuro.

Questi sono i miei cinque modi di dire preferiti sul cibo, ma ce ne sono molti di più sia in nella cultura italiana, sia nelle altre. Se ne conoscete qualcuno, lasciatemi un commento.
Spero davvero di sbloccare le mie idee prima possibile.

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.

Why Nutella Bar at Eataly NYC is just a hype

This morning I opened my twitter and I noticed that the trending topic among the majority US food lovers I follow was the Nutella Bar that just opened at Eataly in New York City. A Nutella Bar?(click here for pics )

So, apparently dreams do come true, I thought. Well, at least as soon as I saw the menu,  and my expectations were smashed to smithereens.

  • Pane e Nutella: so… how is this supposed to be different from the bread and Nutella spread I usually have at home? Eataly special bread, you say? I bet NYC is overflowing with special bakeries (organic, kosher, vegan, hipster?). So if you buy your favourite loaf and a Nutella jar, the entire cost would cover a lot of pane e Nutella slices and you wouldn’t even have to leave your own kitchen.
  • Brioche or Saccottino: same thing as above. You can either buy your brioche or make it at home a fill them with Nutella.
  • Muffin: the menu says it’s just a muffin with Nutella spread on top. Again nothing special. I believe everybody can take their knife, dip it into a Nutella jar and spread it onto a muffin.
  • Tart: maybe the only thing that is worth ordering, but only if the the shortbread is excellent.
  • Crepe: nothing unusual or complicated, but I definitely wouldn’t judge a sudden Nutella crepe craving.
  • Bacio di Dama: or, as Eataly website states, hazelnut cookies sandwiched together with Nutella. Nothing I can’t do with my favourite or homemade cookies.

I am really surprised that people waited in line for 45 minutes to have snacks that they could have easily had at home, maybe spending less bucks.

Ok, hold on! It may be argued that Eataly’s marketing moves are aimed at using Nutella as it is, as a delicious hazelnut spread that improves and enhances everything the product is spread on. Yes, this is unquestionably true, but if I think about a Nutella Bar I imagine a particular and creative menu. For example various Nutella cakes and desserts (Nutella and pears, Nutella and coconut, tiramisù, just name a few), Nutella petit four, gelato and, last but not the least, drinks like smoothies, milkshakes or even cocktails. Can you imagine the hype then? it would be justified and rewarded, in fact I would be the first in line. That should be a Nutella Bar worth of its name.

I’m sorry Eataly marketing team, but I think anyone would have done better.

 

And now in Italian.

Come tutte le mattine, appena sveglia ho aperto il mio twitter e ho notato che l’ argomento di tendenza tra la maggior parte dei foodies americani che seguo era il Nutella Bar che ha appena aperto nella sede di Eataly a New York City. (cliccate qui per le foto)

Esatto, un Nutella Bar. “Ma allora i sogni si avverano!”, ho pensato. Beh, almeno fino a quando ho visto il menù, che ha ridotto le mie aspettative in mille pezzi.

  • Pane e Nutella – E… quindi questo dovrebbe essere diverso dal pane e Nutella che posso prepararmi a casa? “Ma Eataly ha il pane speciale”, potreste argomentare, ma scommetto NYC è piena di panetterie particolari (organic, kosher, vegan, hipster?), perciò se comprassimo il nostro tipo di pane preferito e un barattolo di Nutella, con la somma spesa potremmo preparare decine di fette di pane e Nutella senza lasciare la nostra cucina.
  • Brioche o Saccottino – stessa cosa come sopra. Siete liberi di comprare le vostre brioche preferite o farle in casa e riempirle con la Nutella.
  • Muffin – Secondo il menù, si tratta di un semplice muffin con un po’ di Nutella spalmata sopra. Anche in questo caso niente di speciale, perché credo che tutti possano prendere un coltello, intingerlo in un barattolo di Nutella e spalmare la crema di nocciole su un muffin.
  • Crostatina – forse l’unica cosa che vale la pena di ordinare, ma solo se la frolla è ottima.
  • Crepe – niente di speciale o complicato, ma di sicuro non giudicherò un’improvvisa voglia di crepe alla Nutella.
  • Bacio di Dama –  Il menù parla di un “sandwich” formato da due biscotti alla nocciola, uniti da una cucchiaiata di Nutella. Niente che non si possa fare con i nostri biscotti preferiti o preparati con le nostre manine.

Sono davvero sorpresa che i clienti abbiano aspettato in fila per 45 minuti per avere delle merende che avrebbero potuto facilmente preparare in casa in pochi minuti, magari spendendo meno soldi.

Ok, aspettate, si potrebbe anche sostenere che la strategia di marketing di Eataly miri a promuovere l’uso della Nutella “in purezza”, cioè come una deliziosa crema di nocciole che migliora e valorizza ogni prodotto su cui viene spalmata. Vero, senza ombra di dubbio, ma se penso a un Nutella Bar mi viene in mente un menù particolare e creativo: per esempio vari dessert e torte alla Nutella ( Nutella e pere, Nutella e cocco, tiramisù solo citarne alcuni), piccola pasticceria, gelato e, ultimo ma non meno importante, bevande come frullati, frappè e addirittura cocktail. Potete immaginarne l’hype mediatico e il successo? Secondo me sarebbe giustificato e premiato, e io sarei la prima della fila. Questo sarebbe un Nutella Bar degno di questo nome.

Mi dispiace, team marketing di Eataly, ma chiunque avrebbe potuto fare meglio.