Friday, March 30, 2012

Chinese Tea Eggs

Yes, I know Chinese Tea Eggs have nothing to do with Italy other than the fact that I crave ethnic foods other than Italian sometimes.  This post goes out to my nephew Colin who asked me for this recipe so long ago that I'm sure he's forgotten all about it by now....


6 eggs
5 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
3 black tea bags
4 pieces star anise
1 small stick cinnamon

Put eggs in a medium-sized pot with enough water to cover the eggs. Bring water to boil, then lower heat to simmer for 3 minutes. Remove eggs from heat and allow them to cool a bit before handling (running them under cold water does the trick quickly.) Take the back of a knife and crack eggs evenly all around.

Return eggs to the pot and add the rest of the ingredients. Bring liquid to boil again, then simmer for 1 to 3 hours, longer for a more intense flavor and color, adding water if level gets too low.  I boil mine no less than 3 hours.  Keep in mind you can adjust the amount of each ingredient to your taste.  I'm thinking of using Earl Grey tea bags next time!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Going, going . ...

Amore and I were driving to Lisciano Niccone the other day and on our way we passed this ruin in San Martino.  When I'm in the passenger seat I frequently take the opportunity to pivot my head from left to right and spied this ruin that I hadn't noticed before, although we'd passed this way many times.  It was down the hill a bit and at this time of year when the trees and bushes are almost bare it's easier to spy see everything.  "What's that?" I asked casually.  "We call that La Valle." and then Amore continued on to tell me the story of how 30 years ago his family kept their chickens there because they lived in a house nearby.  This was before his father and his uncle bought an apartment in town (long story for another time) and they moved.  When his sister married 25 years ago and she and her husband were looking to buy a house -- which wasn't immediately after they were married because as all good Italians do they moved in with the father right away -- Amore's father wanted them to buy this property but it was already in negotiations at that time.  They now live in a house they had built in a newer area of Mercatale.  That's what happens with towns here and everywhere I'm sure.  There is the old town with lovely old stone buildings and then slowly slowly the town gets built outwards with newer structures, stores and homes and where was I going with all this?  Oh yes, we passed La Valle and I asked to return and explore when we had time.  A few days later we were walking around the property with Amore yelling at me not to get too close to the house because it was crumbling and I could get hit by a giant falling stone.  There are so many neglected and crumbling houses in Italy that are so stoic and beautiful and yet so sad to me.  It seems like a little piece of history dies with the house.  On the way to La Valle we passed through a group of old stone homes and I noticed a pole with a sign that indicated a telephone.  Amore said that there had been a small grocery store/bar on the street level of one of the homes many years ago.  And another bit of the past just flew by.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Italy Loves George

George Clooney loves Italy and Italy loves George Clooney.  Well, Italy loves George ever since he bought the villa in Lago di Como.  Since then he has done several commercial spots for Italian products such as Martini, Nespresso and currently Fastweb.  My favorite is this ad he did a few years ago for Fiat.  I love George Clooney too, but only to be patriotic.  Ahem.

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

It's All in the Accent

Conversation at the Firenze train station ticket counter which took place in Italian, but I've translated below.

Me:  I would like a one-way ticket to Terontola.

Clerk:  Where?

Me:  Terontola.

Clerk:  Where??

Me: (Enunciating carefully)  Terontola.

Clerk:  Sorry, I don't understand.  

Me: (Writing on a piece of paper the word "Terontola")

Clerk:  Oh, Terontola!

Me: (Thinking silently and quite irritatedly) "ISN'T THAT WHAT I SAID!?!???"

And that, ladies and gentlemen, happens all too frequently.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Summer Wedding

Amore's niece is getting married July 7th and we've been asked to be witnesses at the wedding!  I happily agreed when she asked me but just found out that means I'll have to say confession with the priest who is presiding over the marriage.  Say what!??  "Father, it's been absolutely eons since I've made my last confession.  Regardless, I've no sins to confess!"  Anywho, she and I went dress shopping the other day.  We drove over an hour to a store in Arezzo that she was told had affordably-priced gowns and a wide variety from which to choose.  We found this to be untrue on both counts.  The least expensive dress started at 3,000 euro and there were a total of perhaps 40 dresses, each one more 'not my style' than the next.  I smiled and tried to be helpful and supportive with each excited "What do you think about this one!??" Traditional, they were not.  It's not that I'm traditional, but I find sequins, beads, sashes, flowers and bows in every color from bright pink to scarlett red on a virgin white dress somehow unsettling.  We're going shopping again tomorrow, just the two of us.  Stone by stone, I'm paving my way to the pearly gates.  Did you hear that Father Bruno?