Back to cooking and Spaghetti allo Scammaro

Back to cooking and Spaghetti allo Scammaro

This blog post is part of the #DolceVitaBloggers link up from Mamma Prada, Italian at Heart and Questa Dolce Vita. Each month they pick a topic and open it up to all bloggers to join in. The topic for September is a favourite Italian recipe.

I went through a really long adjustment period during the move to Italy, starting from when we first started packing up our flat in London in September 2017 and ending sometime during the spring. I was overwhelmed by these big changes and I lost all interest in cooking and I couldn’t taste or enjoy food. It’s not that I turned anorexic and didn’t want to eat. I ate everything, but I didn’t care about eating like I normally did. I was numb.

But now things have been getting better. In April we moved to Forio, on the west side of the island, into a little yellow house with a garden. The house was furnished, but the kitchen just had the basics, so the first thing me and Marituccio did was put together the kitchen. We mounted shelves and bars to hang up our pots and pans and tools. We added a sideboard table and put a cutting board on top of the small fridge to add some more counter space.

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I had a kitchen again and I started to cook. At first, I made a few simple dishes and rotated them during the week, slowly getting into it. Then in July, I went up to the Venice and got the rest of our stuff out of storage and shipped everything to Ischia. That meant our move was finally complete and home felt like home. Then I really started cooking the way I used to. Reading about food, trying new recipes and getting inspired. The days were long and hot with the cicadas booming, the door was always open with the cats coming in and out of the garden and I listened to podcasts and music while cooking. And the supermarket was down the road so I could do a daily shop picking up just what I needed for the day. And then Marituccio would come home from work and it would still be light out so we’d walk to the beach to watch the sunset. And then we’d come back and sit and eat.

I cooked and made all sorts of things this summer, trying new things and letting my mind lead me to wherever it wanted to go: A tomato tart, roasted aubergines, cantuccini, and zucchini flower pancakes. Grilled peaches with goat cheese and walnuts, red chilli compote with chillies from the garden and fish tacos. Steak pizzaiola, prosciutto and melon, gallons of gazpacho, and a spinach frittata in a cream of chickpeas. Fresh mayonnaise in tomato sandwiches, pea risotto, and roasted tomatoes.  I was chewing on the heart of summer, getting the most I could out of it.

Such a different feeling from all those months feeling numb and lost craving burgers, fries and hot dogs. Reading about food and looking through cookbooks and recipes online made me feel happy and settled again and I had a kitchen full of light where I could keep my cookbooks and hang up pictures and postcards. Of course the cats coming in and brushing against my leg or threatening to jump on the counter made it fun too. And the church bells ringing Ave Maria at 8 pm every night.

One of my favourite dishes that I made this summer is a dish we ate every Christmas Eve while I was growing up. You would think that during those hot humid days I would avoid eating anything that would remind me of the winter, but this sweet and salty pasta dish made of olives, raisins and pine nuts felt like the perfect thing to eat. Growing up the dish didn’t have a name and I never saw any of my other aunts and uncles eat it, so it just seemed like it was our thing. But one day when the craving hit me, I googled the ingredients and I found Spaghetti allo Scammaro.

It’s actually a 19th century Neapolitan recipe back when Napoli was under Bourbon control. The Duke of Buonvicino, Ippolito Cavalcanti, first prepared this dish for the fasting monks during Lent and the other fasting days (called in Italian i giorni magri -skinny days). The recipe was added to his book Cucina Teorico-Pratica in 1837 and it quickly became part of the Neapolitan cucina povera.  It’s nice to know that we were following an old Neapolitan tradition after all by making this on Christmas Eve.

The Neapolitan word scammaro originates from the monks in the monasteries. During Lent, the monks who were unwell and were permitted to eat meat ate their meals in their rooms (cammere in dialect) so as not to disturb the other fasting monks. So the word cammerare (to eat inside your room) became synonymous with eating heavy fatty carnivorous meals while scammerare (to eat outside of your room) meant eating light vegetarian or fish-based meals.

I guess it made sense getting this craving over the summer when it was too hot to cammerare. It’s a quick easy light dish and goes great with a glass of white wine from the fridge and a peach or fig for dessert.

 

spaghetti allo scammaro and cooking
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Spaghetti allo Scammaro

Quick light pasta dish for your 'giorni di magro'.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 2

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • 2 tsp capers
  • 20 gr pine nuts
  • half handful gaeta olives
  • 1 anchovy in oil
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • chopped parsley
  • grated parmigiano (optional)
  • 160 g spaghetti

Instructions

  1. Leave the raisins to soak in a bowl with warm water. Remove the pits from the olives and roughly chop. Toast the pine nuts in a pan over a low flame for under a minute. Watch closely and don’t let them burn. Once toasted, set aside.

  2. Add oil to the pan. Add the anchovy and once it dissolves add a crushed garlic clove.

  3. Add the olives, raisins and capers and cook until soft and covered in oil. Add in the toasted pine nuts. Remove from heat.

  4. In the meantime, add the spaghetti to the boiling water. You’ll want this to be al dente so remove two minutes before the suggested cooking time on the packet. Reserve some cooking water.

  5. Add the pasta and a ladle of cooking water to the pan with the sauce and put it on a low flame and mix until the sauce becomes rich and creamy and sticks to the pasta.

  6. Add chopped parsley and grated parmigiano if desired.

Recipe Notes

Note: Most of the ingredients in this dish are salty so it would be easy to make this dish too salty. Play around with the measurements. I add more raisins to balance the saltiness and I put just a bit of salt in the water before I throw in the pasta.

I’ve seen some posts online where this recipe is taken to the next level in which breadcrumbs are added and it is fried so it becomes a frittata without the eggs. Crazers! The frittata could be a great vegan dish (if you leave out the anchovies and cheese) to bring to a party or picnic.spaghetti allo scammaro and cooking

spaghetti allo scammaro and cooking

spaghetti allo scammaro and cooking

 

Enjoy!

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Ischia, our new home

Ischia, our new home

We arrived in Ischia here two weeks ago and it’s been strange, surreal and beautiful. People have been so helpful and kind here, willing to give us advice and help us get started. The bar downstairs from our flat is our hang out spot and we’ve have met lots of locals there. Our landlords are the best and just the other day, they brought us a fresh fish they had caught and some oranges and lemons from their garden.

It takes awhile settling in a new place and some days are better than others, but we’re pushing through it. Moving is a  psychological upheaval, whether you’re moving to a new neighbourhood, city or country, so I’m just trying to be kind to myself and sit and breathe when things feel lonely, sad and difficult. Going for walks helps a lot! Here are some pictures from our first two weeks here:

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Ischia Ponte
This is our neighbourhood

 

Hanging laundry, Ischia Ponte
Me having fun doing chores

 

Marituccio exploring the seaside in Ischia Ponte with the Castello Aragonese in the background
Marituccio resting on some rocks in Ischia Ponte with the Castello Aragonese in the background
Hanging laundry at the Spiaggia di Pescatori, Ischia Ponte
Hanging laundry at the Spiaggia di Pescatori in Ischia Ponte

 

Typical courtyard in Ischia Ponte
Typical courtyard in Ischia Ponte

 

Orange trees, Corso Vittoria Colonna, Ischia Ponte
Orange trees!

 

Christmas lights at Ischia Ponte
Christmas lights at Ischia Ponte

Thanks for reading and see you soon!

Part 1: Step by step process of getting a Permesso di Soggiorno for a spouse of an Italian/EU citizen (motivi familiari)

Part 1: Step by step process of getting a Permesso di Soggiorno for a spouse of an Italian/EU citizen (motivi familiari)

I had a difficult time getting the exact information of the kind of PdS I needed and how to apply for one and I needed to search tons of websites online in both English and Italian in order to get the correct information. I still didn’t get it all correct as I couldn’t find a complete list of the documents that I needed and I had to go to the Questura twice in order to get it fully processed.

So I thought I’d write it out here in case it would be useful to others in the same shoes.

What is the Permesso di Soggiorno?

One of the very first things one needs to do when arriving in Italy for a long-term stay is apply for the Permesso di Soggiorno, also known as the PdS. This is the Italian residency permit and all non-EU citizens need to apply for one if they are going to stay in Italy (or anywhere else in the EU) for longer than 90 days.

There are a number of different kinds of PdS one can apply for including: study, work, family reasons, minors, medical care, adoption, voluntary work, elective residency, and more.

Continue reading “Part 1: Step by step process of getting a Permesso di Soggiorno for a spouse of an Italian/EU citizen (motivi familiari)”

How to get a Pds for the spouse of an Italian citizen

This is called Permesso di Soggiorno per coesione familiare (family unification).

Step 1: Entry Visa into Italy or Residency Permit if you are moving to Italy from another EU country

If you’re entering Italy from outside of the EU, you’ll need an entry visa for family reasons and will need to apply through the Italian consulate.

If you live within the EU and already have a residency permit for that country, you do not need a visa. As I am American that lived in London and have a residency permit for the UK, I didn’t need to get a visa. (I wasn’t entirely sure, so I went to the Italian consulate in London just to double check and they reassured me it wasn’t necessary.)

Step 2: Go to the Questura and bring the necessary documents

Once you arrive in Italy, you need to apply to the Questura in the zone where your partner is resident. As both me and D moved from London, he registered his residency at the town hall as soon as we arrived so he could get his certificate of residency.

As a spouse of an Italian citizen, you don’t need to apply with the PdS application through the post office. You can show up at the Questura with your spouse without an appointment and without an application. It seems unreal, but we did it and it worked.

You need to bring with you the following documents:

  • Marca da bollo of €16 (available at any tabaccaio)
  • 4 photos
  • Your passport and photocopy of every page with stamps and visas (no need to photocopy the empty pages)
  • PdS (if you already have one, i.e. you were already in Italy on a different type of PdS and you got married)
  • Marriage certificate and photocopy – if married abroad, marriage certificate must be translated. Both the translation and marriage certificate must each have an apostille for the documents to be valid.
  • Passport or identity card of Italian spouse and photocopy
  • If spouse is an EU citizen, you must have a document to prove that the spouse has been registered at the Anagrafe (registry office)
  • Certificate of residence of the spouse
  • Declaration of hospitality validated by the local Police Department (document signed by owner of the property where you’re staying that declares that you have permission to live there)

If you were married outside of Italy, and you can do it, try to get the marriage certificate and translation both apostilled while you’re within the country of origin. It’s much easier and more cost-effective to do it there. For me, I did it during my last two weeks in London and managed to get the documents certified with an apostille within 10 days.

The first time we went to the Questura of Venezia, I thought I had all of the documents, but I was missing one thing so had to get it and then go back. The administrator gave me a list of the documents that I needed which I’ll show you here. This is like gold to me! I couldn’t find this listed on any of the sites that I looked at in both English and in Italian so I’ll add it for you here.

List of documents for the Permesso di Soggiorno for the spouse of an Italian citizen

I was missing the declaration of hospitality, so I downloaded the form from the town hall website and then went to get it signed by the local police. Unfortunately, our town no longer has a physical police building, but officers have an office set up at the weekly market. We went there to get it signed and had a nice chat with them about life and they wished us luck.

Questura – my experience

I’ve lived in Italy before and had to apply for a PdS at both the Questura di Roma and Napoli, so I was familiar with the bureaucratic confusing hell of the immigration progress and endless waiting at the Questura. The Questura di Venezia wasn’t as bad as the one in Rome, but I was afraid of going there without an appointment. In the end it was okay. We waited a half hour in a queue outside to get in and I left my passport with the guard and was told to wait inside. We waited about 2.5 hours before we saw someone and then they completed the application for me and I signed the papers and then waited some more to get my fingerprints taken. After that, I received a temporary paper version of the PdS that’s valid for three months. I have to go back in February to get the official version, but in the meantime this will let me sign up in the registry office, get residency, and get an ID card.

As comparison, when I moved to Italy back in 2009, I applied for my PdS at the post office in July, got called to the Questura to hand in my paperwork and do my fingerprints in November and picked up my PdS in January 2010. I wasn’t able to get residency until July 2010 (for other bureaucratic reasons that’s too boring to tell here).

UPDATE (29 July 2018) – Read Part 2 of my timeline experience of getting the permesso from start to finish.

I wish you all who are going through this the best of luck and to have a lot of patience. Bring snacks, a book and crossword puzzle with you to your appointment and some tissues in case you need to use the bathroom and there’s no toilet paper.

 

Getting Italian Citizenship Through Marriage

Getting Italian Citizenship Through Marriage

UPDATED: *16 Oct 2017

I’ve recently applied for my Italian citizenship. (Thank you, Marituccio!) And while my application was accepted and I had my appointment at the Italian consulate in London, I now have to sit and wait for maximum of two years to get my letter that says I’m officially Italian.

For those of you who have to go through the same thing, I’m going to tell you how to do it.

  1. Collect the documents (see below)
  2. Prepare yourself to spend some cash on translations, certifications, fingerprints, and apostilles.
  3. Submit your application and upload your documents online at the Ministero dell’Interno website (also known as ALI).
  4. The consulate will view your application and either accept it, deny it, or accept it with reservations (which happened to me because I uploaded the documents in the wrong way. Make sure when you upload, keep the documents — such as criminal records – state, FBI, and translations, all in one pdf)
  5. Once the consulate accepts your application you will be called in for an interview to hand in your documents, sign the application and pay for the certifications of the photocopies of you and your spouse’s passports and translation of the UK police certificate.
  6. The consulate will send your documents to the Ministero dell’Interno where they will then process it and then inform the consulate. You will then get a letter that you are officially an Italian citizen.

Time frame – I applied online in Dec 2016 and didn’t get my appointment at the consulate until Oct 2017. In the meantime, I wrote to the consulate numerous times and only when I told them that I was moving back to Italy that I got a response — first they looked at my application online and then they called me for an interview. The consulate has been swamped since Brexit as everyone and their mother in the UK that’s eligible for citizenship is applying and there are only two (TWO) people processing citizenship applications. I feel for them and understand that people in the consulates across the world are overworked. So, be prepared to wait.

If you apply for citizenship within Italy, the process can be a lot faster. Once we move to Italy, I may hear from the Italian government sooner as the answer will no longer have to go through the consulate, but I’m preparing myself for the worst and maybe I’ll be presently surprised.

(While Italian bureacracy is a soul-crushing bitch, after seeing what other friends and family members have gone through, this isn’t as complicated as getting British citizenship or a US greencard.)

Continue reading “Getting Italian Citizenship Through Marriage”

Italian Citizenship through Marriage — documents you need

If you are married to an Italian citizen, you are eligible for citizenship after being 2 years of marriage if you reside in Italy and 3 years if you live abroad. (You can apply after 18 months no matter where you are if you have a child together). If you reside abroad, your spouse must be registered with l’AIRE (l’Anagrafe degli Italiani Residenti all’Estero) at the nearest Italian Consulate where you live. When we decided to get married, I was like to D, “Dood, you gotta do it.” Otherwise anything that he wanted to do he would have to go to Italy (get a new ID card, renew passport, register marriage, etc).

Since I’m an American from New York that resides in the UK, I’m going to tell you what I need to specifically get. Substitute your country and state where applicable.

Documents You Need

  • Unsigned application.
  • Estratto per riassunto dell’atto di matrimonio. This is a document issued by the Italian municipality where the Italian spouse is registered and has had the marriage registered. Since me and D registered our marriage at the Consulate in London, we don’t need this form since they already have us on record. *So they say on the website. But they also say to call just to make sure.
  • Full birth certificate. I was born in New York, so I needed to get this through the New York State Department of Health. (Not through the town hall where you were born as I first thought) This needs to be translated and certified in New York State. I also need to get an apostille through the New York State government. More info about the apostille can be found here.
  • Certificate of no criminal records from your country. For those who are from the US, you will need one from the FBI and one from every state that you have lived in since you were 14 years old. So that means for me one from the FBI and one from NY State. (If I had gone to university or lived in another state, I would have to get forms from those states, too.) Each of these documents needs to be translated, certified, and with an apostille. Here are links to the FBI and NY State Criminal sites. You need to get the apostille from the US government for the FBI certificate and they apostille from New York State for the NY police records. These documents are valid for only 6 months, so make sure you don’t get them too far in advance.
  • Certificate of no criminal records from the UK. More info on the certificate is here. This also needs to be translated,  certified, and be legalised. The London Consulate says that they can certify this on the spot when I come in for the citizenship appointment. More info on the British apostille can be found here. Again, this document is valid for only 6 months. The consulate advises you to get this done after you make the appointment.
  • Copy of the applicant’s passport and photocopy of the title page.
  • Copy of the applicant’s UK resident permit (if applicable). The original and photocopy of the title page.
  • Italian spouse’s passport and photocopy of the main pages.
  • 200 Euros.

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The Fiascos of Moving to Italy – My Story

The Fiascos of Moving to Italy – My Story

“But if your parents are Italian, that means  you can get citizenship, right?”

If only it were that easy! That’s what I thought while growing up. That everyone was just too lazy to haul ass to the Consulate in New York and get me my passport. By the time I finally made it when I was 21, they told me that I was too late. The laws had changed.

“Just marry an Italian,” the officer told me. “It’ll be easier.” I was crushed and wanted to slap him across the face with a sword for denying me my birthright.

The law is that you can claim Italian citizenship through your ancestors as long as the tie has not been broken. But my parents were naturalised as US citizens in the 70s right before I was born. Back then, they had to give up their Italian citizenship in order to become American. So technically, I wasn’t born to Italian parents and couldn’t claim citizenship. But my siblings could because they were born when Mom and Papa were still Italian. And that means that their children can get it and their children’s children can and their children’s children children can. But I couldn’t.

Continue reading “The Fiascos of Moving to Italy – My Story”

This was a huge blow to me because all I wanted to do in my life was live in Italy. I spent my turbulent twenties traveling, teaching English and coming up with strategies, hitting walls, dealing with dejection and depression. I tried living in Mexico City, New York City, and Paris, but all of those places pissed me off for not being Italy.

Finally, in 2008, I said to myself, “Grow some balls, Giovan! Do it right!”

So I decided to do a masters in London and use that to get to Italy. I went to London, wrote my dissertation on an Italian artist in Rome, and then moved there a year later to work with him. Through the Consulate in London (which was much friendlier than the one in New York and at the time much smaller and more personable as there were less Italians living in the UK during those years) I got an elective residency visa which meant that I was able to live in Italy, but not work there. It wasn’t the greatest, but it did make me legal and I got my papers in order. I still worked though and got paid in cash teaching private English lessons and translating for the artist. I wasn’t happy about it and I felt like a drug dealer paying for everything in cash. It let me live though and I thought I could try to figure out another way to stay. After a year and a half, immigration laws across Europe were changing again and with no other prospects, I decided to move back to London just before they got rid of the post-study work visa which lets you work in the UK for two years.

It was a really hard decision to make because I loved Italy and Rome so much despite my heartbreak over love, intense solitude, and the soul crushing bureaucracy of Italian life and immigration issues. I was so close, but there was still a wall. I know that there are lots of expats that stick it out in Italy, but I was so afraid that if I gave up that life-raft of a UK visa that eventually I would have had to go back to New York, back to square one. And New York was even farther from Italy than London. So I went to London in order to figure out how to get back to Italy.

I got a job in London at a big company and when it came close to my visa expiring they told me that they couldn’t sponsor me for a new visa because the laws had changed again!

“Is there anything I can do from my end?” I asked HR.

“Do you have a boyfriend? Can you get married?,” she asked.

I wanted to slide down the chair until the floor and cry my guts out. I sucked at love.

So the only other thing to do other than go back to New York was study again. So I got into another masters programme (I’m so smart now) and got myself a student visa and got some more time to think.

UNTIL three weeks before I was due to start the programme, the university announced that they had been denied by the government to sponsor international students and that I as well as the other 4500 international students had to find another university that would accept them or go home.

What’s amazing about all of this is that during this fiasco that gave me three months of the puke syndrome and insomnia, I met Davide, my Marituccio, a sweet man from Italy that lived in London. And despite my freakouts and puking episodes and emotional storms, he liked me and wanted to hang around.

I was like, “O really? You might have to marry me.”

And he was like, “Sure.”

Which made me freak out a bit because I didn’t want a visa wedding. So I went back to school, calmed down, and two years later we got married.

Yay!
Yay!

In the end, I did what the jerk at the Italian Consulate in New York told me to do a million years ago. I married an Italian.

But HAH! You think that’s the end of it, but it’s not!

Because three years after we got married, Brexit happened. And suddenly my EU family member residency permit didn’t look so stable anymore. In fact, everything was up in the air about what was going to happen to EU citizens in the UK. No one was rushing to kick us out, but we were sad and disappointed and I was back to the familiar feeling of uncertainty over my immigration status and sense of home, we both said, ‘Hey, isn’t this the best reason to move back to Italy?’

So in November 2017, we packed up our things and got a van to drive our stuff to Italy and we moved to Ischia, a small island in the bay of Naples, where we both work now. It’s taken me 10 years to get to this point, but I finally feel like I’m allowed to make this place my home.