TWO New Ingredients


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I used anchovies and liver in the same meal. I feel like I won the dinner contest last night, it felt like quite the endeavor.

I made Spaghetti con Pane, Acciughe e Olive (spaghetti with breadcrumbs, anchovies, and olives), Pollo in Salsa di Fegato (chicken in liver sauce), and green string beans from the neighbors. (The neighbors are a community of recovered drug addicts who play drums and sing and apparently grow very tasty beans in abundance.) I put an egg and lemon sauce on them and people seemed ok with that. Next time I’ll add less lemon, I think. It’s interesting- this was the meal about which I was most stressed, most harried, and most unimpressed with by the end. It also ended up being the meal I think Professor Calleo liked the most.

Something weird is happening to me while I cook. At the beginning of the process everything tastes rich and I can sense minute olfactory differences in the food. In the end, while I’m sitting down to eat the food I’ve just prepared, I can barely taste it. For example, the pasta last night was apparently delicious but I couldn’t tell, it just tasted like pasta with crunchy things coating it. The chicken didn’t seem like anything special, but everyone ate the liver sauce with gusto. The beans seemed all wrong to me while I was eating them, but I got Butt-in-Chair Wiggling from people around the table and some Pleasant Hums from the professor. Those are my favorite, because they’re rare, rather Eyore-like (in tone and pitch), and convey his happiness with the simple pleasures that come so easily when eating good food.

I haven’t been very good about taking pictures of the food, since serving it is always so rushed. I didn’t get a shot of the chicken last night, but I can assure you it looked pretty gross, like chicken thighs smeared with brown goo (the liver sauce). I did get a shot of the beans and the pasta, so that’s what’s in the picture.

I cleaned the kitchen this morning, top to bottom (literally; I dusted the tops of cupboards and mopped the floor, scrubbing everything in between). Since it looked so nice I thought I’d take a picture of the house and put it here so you guys can see where I live my life. It’s quite small, as you can see. It’s really hard to cook three things at once, which is why last night’s meal was difficult. The chicken was being fricaseed, the water needed to boil for pasta, the beans needed to sautée in butter, and the liver sauce needed to be heated up to go on the chicken when it was done. So I required four burners. This was basically impossible without positioning half the enormous frying pan with the chicken in it over the front right burner, balancing the handle on the clean mugs to the right of the stove so that although only half the pan was on the burner, it still had enough surface area to cook the chicken without having to divide it into two pans. As it was, the pan for the beans had to be small to fit between the pasta pot and the chicken pan, so I ended up steaming the beans instead of sautéing them because they were all on top of each other. I really wish I could transport the range from my boyfriend’s house here. Their stove is amazing and I wouldn’t run into the same problems with it as I do here. Also, the oven here refuses to work unless the timer is on, which the Tired-and-Stressed Me always forgets.

The other pictures are of the English garden, the dining room (which is set for nothing in the picture), and the living room. The gardeners are working hard to weed whack the whole property, rake up debris, and collect the softball sized pinecones that seem to come from nowhere but definitely fall in excess. There’s a constant battle with the fountains and their water supply here as well, made more complicated by the fact that the cistern system is shared by three properties, each with different ideas of how things should be run.

Tonight I made Carbonara, baked eggplant (one less burner I needed to use!) and some pork loin. Everything came out really well, and I even had enough time before dinner to photograph things properly. Whenever I make carbonara, which is the recipe I know the best, I feel like I know what’s going on. Already I know I’ve learned a lot about how to prepare a meal. It’s funny; having to make a dress a salad is still the most stressful thing for me.

Tonight the boys are going out, minus Giacomo and Dean, and I am staying in with a Headache. I’m exhausted from a lack of sleep and an expended amount of energy. I hope tomorrow will be sunny again so I can nap on the beach!

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