Four Neapolitan Pastas for My Brilliant Friend

Four Neapolitan Pastas for My Brilliant Friend

Tonight the first two episodes of My Brilliant Friend will air on Rai1. I’ve been counting the days and everyone in Ischia is super excited to watch tonight especially because they filmed some scenes here in the late spring this year.

A few weeks ago, I came across an article on Food52 ‘10 Perfect Pastas for My Brilliant Friend Premier’. The recipes look delicious, but I thought wouldn’t it be even better if the pasta dishes were Neapolitan. So in celebration, I am sharing 4 Neapolitan pasta dishes to celebrate the four nights that Rai will air the episodes of My Brilliant Friend.

Continue reading “Four Neapolitan Pastas for My Brilliant Friend”

Enjoy!

Pasta alla Genovese

click on the title for the recipe

(Recipe by the lovely Rachel Roddy from her column in The Guardian)

Pasta alla Genovese via The Guardian, Rachel Roddy’s A Kitchen in Rome column

Don’t confuse this with pesto al genevose, which is the rich basil pesto that most are familiar with that comes from the Genoa region. Despite the name, this is a Neapolitan dish whose name comes from a family named Genovese that created the dish. This is basically a meat sauce made with minced meat, onions, carrots and celery with just a spoonful of tomato puree to make it a bit red. Serve the sauce with a large tubular pasta such as paccheri or rigatoni with this hearty sauce.

Lina and Lenu would have eaten this for a Sunday lunch or some kind of holiday.

Pasta con cozze e pecorino – Pasta with mussels and pecorino

click on the title for the recipe

(Recipe by Tina Ciccio from her blog Our Edible Italy)

Pasta con Cozze e Pecorino From Our Edible Italy

There is the general known Italian rule that you never serve cheese with fish, but that rule is broken with this classic dish served on the island of Ischia. You mix with mussels with a bit of pecorino cheese, not too much or else it will overpower the mussels, and serve with paccherri or mezza paccheri. I would even add some lemon zest to the sauce to get a citrusy, salty seafood pasta dish.

Lila and Lenu could have eaten this when they were on holiday in Ischia.

Frittata di Spaghetti – aka Spaghetti Pizza

click on the title for the recipe

(Recipe by Jaime Oliver and Gennaro Contaldo)

Pasta Frittata from JaimeOliver.com

If you’ve accidentally made too much pasta and have some leftovers, you can mix it with some eggs and cheese and fry it on the stove in a deep dish pan to make a spaghetti frittata. This is a classic Neapolitan dish that I grew up on. You can add all kinds of things to this like chopped dried sausage, mozzarella, a spicy provolone or whatever. You can serve it at room temperature or cold from the fridge (my favourite).

Perhaps Lila and Lenu would have eaten this as a picnic food for Easter Monday or would have brought it with them to the beach.

Spaghetti allo Scammaro

click on the title for the recipe

 (my own family recipe)

spaghetti allo scammaro and cooking
My family recipe of spaghetti allo scammaro

This is a Neapolitan dish that is typically made during Lent or any other fasting periods throughout the Catholic year. However, you can eat this year round since it’s a really light, cheap and easy dinner. This is one of my favourite pasta dishes and something we ate every Christmas Eve while growing up.

Lila and Lenu could have eaten this on Fridays as Fridays were generally fasting days and one didn’t eat meat.

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Enjoy!

Our First Year in Italy

Our First Year in Italy

Hello everyone! It’s a year ago today that me and Marituccio said goodbye to London and boarded a plane to Italy with 4 suitcases and a Christmas cactus.

Looking back on this time last year, I remember being so so so scared with this big decision to move to Italy. It was hard for me to figure out whether it was intuition that was trying to stop or just fear of jumping into the unknown. I didn’t have this same kind of terror when I had moved to Mexico City, London and Rome. Maybe because I was older? Maybe because there was nowhere else to go if this didn’t work out? It was so strong that I almost didn’t feel any excitement at all. I was numb. Continue reading “Our First Year in Italy”

Gatwick Airport, 25 November 2017, Moving back to Italy

Honestly, the first 6 months were difficult. Not for any of the usually bureaucratic difficulties of setting into life in Italy nor the  baggage that comes with trying to navigate a new country in a different language. It was more psychological than that.  I thought in the beginning that I was going to be punished for moving to Italy. I could hear all these voices from family members in the past who had always made me feel like I was too dumb or too young or too naive to realise how bad life in Italy really was. These voices of the past were always on my shoulder and I could feel them angry with me for trying to live here. Last Christmas I made Neapolitan rococo, using my Nonna’s recipe, and they came out bad with a terrible bitter taste. I thought I had messed up the recipe and overdid the spices. I felt like Nonna was trying to tell me that she was angry with me, for daring to make her cookies in Ischia, the place where life had been so difficult for her. (Later I found out that the flour I used for the cookies was rancid and had nothing to do with my grandmother being pissed off in the clouds.)

My batch of roccoco that came out disgusting (thanks to that bag of flour)

But once I realised that I was giving weight to voices that didn’t exist anymore and that it was futile to imagine how they would think and what they would say based on faded memories that were at least 20 years old, I felt better. Really, if they were still alive today and lived and had grown as people for another 20 years, they might have thought that I was really brave and awesome for doing this. In any case, I wasn’t living this new life here for them, continuing their own story, this was for me. My life. My story.

Things that I expected to happen that didn’t:

– Extreme culture shock moving from a major metropolis to a tiny island

I thought it would be a lot harder, I thought it would take a long time to get used to the slower pace of life and to not have so many things available to you 24 hours a day as is in a city, to not have so many events to go to, friends to see, places to walk to. I seemed to adjust to this part of life in Italy quite quickly. It’s amazing to be able to go for walks along the beach and into town, to see the sky full of stars, to breath clean air and not deal with the noise and traffic of city life. I also feel less anonymous here, people seem closer to life and more aware of life and death. There are processions and festivals to mark the holidays and saint days, announcements to mark births and funerals and people are always ready to talk to you in the shops and on the streets.

The garden waiting for the dinner party to start
Everything closed during the winter off season with no one in the streets

Hah! It’s true it gets quieter during the off season and quite a few restaurants and hotels close. But there are 70,000 full-time residents on the island and tourists still come here all year round. There are lots of events going on – concerts, book signings, talks, festivals and markets. And the neighbourhoods are lively.

Winter Lemons
– Feeling isolated and claustrophobic from living on an island

When I was preparing for the move, I would get scared thinking about how I was going to be on an island being surrounded by a very powerful sea. Even if you needed a break, you wouldn’t be able to just drive your car for an hour to go someplace new. But Ischia has 6 towns and isn’t as small as it seemed to me before I left. Each town has its own character and you can just go to another town for a walk or an icecream and it feels like a change in scene.

Spiaggia Cava dell’isola, Forio
– It would take a long time to make friends

It always takes a long time to develop friendships, especially when living in a community in a different country, and I was prepared to spend a lot of time alone. But I’ve found that it was pretty easy to become friends with my neighbours and landlords, to be invited to birthday parties and Sunday lunches, to go out after work with Martiuccio’s colleagues and generally be included in people’s lives here. I’ve lived in cities for most of my adult life and got used to being anonymous going about in my everyday life, so here it’s nice to go for a walk and say hello, stop for a coffee, and have a little chat. There’s a nice community of artists and writers on the island and I got to know other bloggers here in particular Isabella Marino of Qui Ischia and Laura Mattera Iacono of Al Tavolo di Amalia that have helped me learn about what life in Ischia is really like.

– It would be difficult for Marituccio to find a job

I kept my London job and work remotely from Italy, but Marituccio, a massage therapist, wanted to find work in a hotel spa. Some people were discouraging and said that finding work would be really hard as there wasn’t a large turnover in staff in the various hotels and that people kept their jobs season after season. But he didn’t let that put him down and he started visiting various hotels, stopping in saying hello and dropping off his CV. We weren’t sure if it was going to work out for this season, but he eventually was hired as a therapist in a hotel in Ischia Porto, it was first for the summer season but he’s now working into the holiday season. Which means we’ll spend our first Christmas in Ischia this year. Yay!

House on via soronzaro, Ischia Ponte

Things that I didn’t expect to happen:

  • Losing the pleasure to cook and eat as I adjusted to this new life
  • How damp things can be in the wintertime like the sheets on your bed
  • How weather can affect the ability to travel, especially if you need to get to the mainland so you can go to the airport.
  • Getting seasick even for a short ride on a small boat
  • How working in English during the day makes it difficult for me to speak with friends in Italian after work, my tongue takes a longer time to warm up and I’m more uncertain when speaking and mispronounce things
  • A whole new cat family showing up at my doorstop all wanting to live with me
My children

Overall, this first year in Italy has been a great surprise and I’m so happy to have moved here. Life is still uncertain and a bit precarious, but also really lovely. This feels like home.