vacation

Dinner on Lake Como

 

IMG_0980

I recently spent a week in a villa on Lake Como in the Italian Alps. On our last night we had a local chef come in to cook us dinner. He was the brother of the villa’s owner and worked for a restaurant in Bellagio. He suggested a menu made up of local foods and, with a few adjustments to our group, we eagerly agreed.

IMG_1879

Lake Como is in the Lombardy region of Italy and is known for its risottos and polentas. They boast a wide variety of cheeses and the fish in the lake is abundant. We watched people fishing just outside our villa and it took them less than a minute to catch something. Normally fish would have been on our menu but some in our group couldn’t eat it.

IMG_1892

We started with a typical Antipasto of meats and cheeses including mortadella, salami, mushroom pate and local cheeses accompanied by a local white wine “Le Calderine” from the Angelinetta Winery in Domaso.

 

 

IMG_1912

 

 

The next course, we were told, was a local peasant dish called Pizzocheri. It was a pasta made with buckwheat flour. The chef and his sister hand rolled it into fat wormlike noodles. These were boiled and finished with cream, herbs, walnuts, and cheese. This was the dish we all liked the least. It was heavy and a bit sour. We all thought it might have been better if it was cooked a bit longer but having nothing to compare it to, we couldn’t be sure. Most of us could not finish it.

IMG_1913

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our main course was roast pork shank with porcini mushrooms and a polenta cake. The pork was magnificent. It fell off the bone and melted in your mouth and the mushrooms were the perfect accent to the dish. We asked if the mushrooms were fresh, they were so delicious, but were told they were not in season. They had been preserved locally in jars. A “ca del Mot” red wine from the same local winery accompanied this dish.

IMG_1920

For dessert we had frittelle stuffed with apples and raisins. These are deep fat fried yeast risen pancakes similar to a doughnut and sometimes called Venetian Doughnuts. The frittelle were served hot, dusted with sugar and cocoa and drizzled with honey. They were quite good but kind of heavy on top of a heavy dinner.

 

 

 

IMG_1924

 

The grand finale was the Grolla. It originated in a region to the west of Lombardy also on the Swiss border, the Valle d’Aosta. It is a drink that requires a special container, or Grolla, the cup of friendship. It is carved out of one piece of wood and has openings for each person at the table to drink out of. The saying goes that the people who drink from the same Grolla will be united in eternal friendship but everybody must drink from their own opening and the entire contents must be finished.

The traditional recipe is one cup coffee and one cup hot grappa and a spoonful of sugar per person, add an orange peel, a lemon peel and light. When the flame burns out, let it cool a bit and start drinking.  I’m not sure this recipe was followed exactly but the drink was delicious and we enjoyed it very much.

Shopping

Whenever I landed in the USA after being away for a while, I would have a lot of trouble shopping.  I would go into a store like Target or Safeway and there were so many things and so many different kinds of the same item, that I would end up with sensory overload unable to process it and I would just stand in the middle of the store, frozen.

 

Seriously how do you decide what kind of tinned tomatoes you should buy?  Does it make any difference?  Is one better?  Which one?

 

 

Or orange juice?  Pulp, no pulp, calcium, extra pulp, from Florida…. and on and on….

After a while I would leave without buying anything.

To this day, if I am not focused and have a specific list of things I need and am able to find them quickly, I can drift around one of those stores for an hour or more.  Just fascinated by all the things you can buy that I don’t need or have any use for.

And the mall!  OMG!  All those stores luring you in, promising to give you all kinds of satisfaction.  I find I am usually disappointed.  I am always searching for the perfect practical item that will be functional and yet eclectic and unique.  Ha!

I read recently that TCK’s (Third Culture Kids) are not materialistic.  People and friendships are more important than having a lot of things.  It is certainly true in my case.  The less stuff I have, the better.  Who needs the luggage?  It’s a backpack for me!