Posts filed under ‘Italy’

Pumpkins and devils and Poncherello! Oh my!!

Ciao Bloggisti!

 

Just got back from a party with 20 preschoolers inside a cramped pub. And yes, that was the SCARIEST Hallowe’en I’ve ever had! But at least the kids had great time. Hallowe’en is relatively new to Italy but I’ve noticed that every year it’s growing in popularity. My son actually went trick-or-treating tonight. And to top it all off, some teenagers poured flour all over our gate and entrance because I didn’t open the door. Nice. How did they know I love to bake?

 

 

But not everyone here is in the spooky spirit. A girl in my daughter’s class didn’t attend her pumpkin and witch-themed birthday party because their family “doesn’t celebrate Hallowe’en”. Her mother explained to me how their priest is against this American celebration of witchcraft and all things evil. Then the other day the girl told my daughter that people who like Hallowe’en love the devil. What in the what?!? I almost did a spit take when I heard that!

Who knew that a simple holiday could cause so much pain and suffering? And yet this got me thinking about my own Hallowe’en agony. It happened many years ago and it’s something I haven’t shared but I think I’m ready now. I need… closure.

Picture it: Scarborough, circa 1984. I was super excited about the Girl Guides Hallowe’en party that evening. Even if I only had one stinking badge and feathered hair, I was going to wow them all with my amazing costume. I thought about something made out of a cardboard box, like a giant Rubik’s cube or a package of Kraft Dinner. It was going to be ironic and it was going to be AWESOME. That morning over breakfast I gave my father detailed instructions about what I wanted and how he could make the greatest Hallowe’en costume the Metropolitan Toronto area has ever seen. I could see his mind working and I was positive that I was going to be the corrugated belle of the ball.

I practically ran home from school to get ready for the party and, of course, to see my costume. When I walked in the door and didn’t see it waiting for me in all it’s boxy glory the living room I felt a sort of pang. I couldn’t quite place it, but something didn’t feel right. I called out to my father, asking him where my costume was. He came down the creaky stairs slowly, carrying something that looked unlike anything I’d ever seen before. Would that I could have unseen it! But, oh lord, it was too late!! He held in his hands my little brother’s CHiPs helmet with what seemed to be a paper beak, eyes and feathers glued to it. “Dad! What… is … that? And where’s my costume?!?” He proceeded to tell me that there was no boring Rubik’s cube for me. Oh no! He made his darling daughter a one-of-a-kind, 100% certified original “POLICE BIRD” costume. “WHAT THE HECK IS A POLICE BIRD?!?!?” He then started to explain how he didn’t have any boxes nor time to go out and get one. So he got the brilliant idea to make something so absurd, so nonsensical even Lady Gaga would be embarrassed to wear it. I mean, what kind of sick mind would morph Erik Estrada with a winged beast. Seriously, it was that awful. And I was going to walk into the Girl Guide party with that “thing” on my head. I was going to answer the many “What are you supposed to be?/Are you mental?” questions that were bound to come my way. Yes, I was a pariah and eventually had to leave the GTA (ok, the continent) to find a man. But it’s true what they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And this “police bird” flew like an eagle, baby!

 

Hope you all had an awesome Hallowe’en!!

 

1 November 2011 at 2:55 am 2 comments

Happy Birthday to a Crazy Old Broad!!

And no I’m not talking about Betty White. The signora in question is Italy and she’s 150 years young. Today the entire country (except those mean green Leghisti) is waving the green white and red to celebrate Italian unification.

Patriotism has never been an easy sentiment for Italians. They feel more kinship to their own town or region than to their country. This is natural for a relatively new nation with such a fractured past. And these days, most Italians weren’t even in the mood to celebrate the anniversary, what with all the political, economic and cultural turmoil. Up until recently, everyone from politicians to business leaders were debating whether or not March 17 should be declared a national holiday. This was a bit shocking to me even if chronic existential crises over national unity is nothing new to a Canadian.

But in the end hatchets were buried and schools and offices will be closed all over Italy. I tried to get my kids interested in the occasion and taught my daughter the national anthem (as I’m pretty sure they don’t do it at school anymore). The kids also came home with tricolore flags and were very proud when I hung them outside. We also inadvertently celebrated over dinner this evening. Bellie and Diggy insisted on having both tomato sauce and pesto with their gnocchi, because tomato sauce alone would have been just too healthy an option. After I finished serving I noticed that their dishes were in keeping with the patriotic theme.

Then I asked my husband to briefly explain the Risorgimento to the kids but they were more interested in wolfing down taleggio cheese and singing, or rather, screaming the national anthem than hearing about Garibaldi and Mazzini.

Perhaps I’ll let them watch Roberto Benigni’s subdued rendition of the Inno di Mameli from this year’s San Remo festival. It conveys all the strength, elegance and emotion that unites all the citizens of this maddeningly wonderful country.

Viva l’Italia!!

17 March 2011 at 2:43 am 3 comments

Time!

Ciao Bloggisti!

I never thought I’d quote Steve Miller (the bane of my university years) but “time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future”. I can’t believe it’s already November and that my little girl is already two months old and my “big” girl just turned seven!

For the last few weeks “time” has been on my mind: the lack of, the speed of, the wasting of, the quality of, etc.

I’ve also been pondering how best to reconcile my need to write with my überbusy existence). Yes, I’m getting used to life with three kiddos but I still have the urge to create things other than babies and clutter. I’d also like to communicate in some way with the outside world because I’m cooped up at home most of the time. But how to do it in between feedings, laundry and sleeping?

The only thing I could think of that would best fit my schedule is a point-form list of what I’m doing, thinking about, reading, etc., because world wants to know! Ideally I’d like to post one every day but, come on, we all know how prolific a writer I’ve been lately 😉 I’m also going to write traditional posts (god willing!) from time to time so this new system isn’t set in stone.

Ok, here we go!

What I’m watching: My current obsession is the American version of The Office. I can’t get enough of it and I’m trying to control how many episodes I watch per day because I don’t want it to end! I have Seasons 1-5 (thanks Sue!). I was a huge fan of the UK Office and was doubtful I’d enjoy the US version but I was so wrong. The writers and actors have done a superb job with each and every one of the characters. Maybe in some twisted way it reminds me of work and is a way for me to “escape” to the office every day.

Music of the day: yesterday I enforced a No TV day and played CDs instead. A little bit of Schubert and Vivaldi but my favourite was The Beatles White Album. Perfect for a rainy day, or any day for that matter. That time spent in Rishikesh did them good. It has a bit of everything and will never let you down (well, except for Yoko’s screaming in Revolution #9. It scared the baby.).

Best read of the day: this is actually from a few days ago but I happened to read it now. I had no idea the Japanese were this crazy for doughnuts. They sound like my kind of people!

What I’m eating: I just polished off a heaping plate of spaghetti with sugo di stufato d’asino. That’s just a fancy way of saying “stewed donkey meat sauce”. I know, it doesn’t sound as good in English but let me assure you, it was yum. Oh, and last night the hubster made a divine risotto alla zucca, or pumpkin risotto. He also cooked his famous frittata, this time with turnip tops (cime di rapa). And thank god I can have a glass of wine from time to time because tonight we’re going to open up a bottle of San Colombano, the only DOC wine produced in the province of Milan.

Best moment of the day: Baby and Diggy “talking” to each other. She was even laughing a little bit. So sweet!

Worst moment of the day: My kids overhearing the expression “bunga bunga” and giddily repeating it over and over again. Cringe cringe cringe.

Well, this turned out to be longer than I thought. But it was fun!

Will I keep up with it? Only time will tell.

2 November 2010 at 3:53 pm 3 comments

Too Upset to Write!

So I’ll just post this link to Cathal Kelly’s article published in today’s Toronto Star which says it all.

And there won’t be a sexy ugly list right now. Just two pictures of the man who we should have seen more of on the pitch (and not because he’s easy on the eyes): Fabio Quagliarella

24 June 2010 at 11:56 pm 2 comments

Sorry, eh!

Ciao Bloggisti,

Yeah, it’s been a while. But I have a really good excuse. I’m working on a certain project which has temporarily diverted all my creativity into another worthy outlet. I can’t go into details right now but I’ll let you know soon enough ;).

But can I let something off my chest right now? WOOO HOOOO!!!! Here’s to my home and native land that did a SUPER job hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics!!

There were some weather issues, technical problems and tragedies. But Canada managed to overcome it all with characteristic hard work, spirit and sense of humour (did you see those inflatable beavers?). And we Owned the Gold, including the top spot in the hockey firmament! Because of Sid Crosby, Obama now owes Prime Minister Harper a case of beer. Hee hee! But our neighbours to the south did very well for themselves despite yesterday’s loss, earning 37 medals. The Russians, on the other hand, were still smarting from their less than stellar results when they bid Vancouver a “classy” farewell in this Pravda article: “Doesn’t it feel great to slam the door behind you as you walk out, stick up the middle finger using the palm of the left hand on the upper right forearm for extra leverage and blow a giant raspberry? That is exactly how it feels as Russia leaves Vancouver after disappointing Games with a question, was the Canadian ice hockey team on drugs?” Um, no, but perhaps the Editorial Staff of Pravda was.

But enough about them. What’s more tragic is the fact I missed my date with Clive Owen!! Well, I didn’t actually have a “date” date but he was in Milan over the weekend for Fashion Week and I had no idea till a few minutes ago when I read this! Does that man know how to wear a suit or what? And just look at those EYES! And where was I? Lying on the sofa watching the Canada vs. US hockey game in German. It was worth it in the end but “scheiße”!

What else is new in my corner of the world? It’s been a pretty busy year so far but we took a much-needed break over the Carnival period. We travelled to Liguria, the south of France and the mountains of Limone Piemonte where Bellie had her first skiing lessons. She was reluctant at first but was speeding down the slopes like a pro in no time. And here’s Diggy climbing his own personal Everest.

Limone Piemonte

So that’s what’s been going around here and in my mind. And what about you? I’d love to find out how your year has been so far and what you thought of the Olympics (or Clive Owen in a suit!).

Ciao ciao

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1 March 2010 at 10:50 pm 1 comment

Sant’Ambrogio Winterlude

Ciao Bloggisti!

Back from my self-imposed hiatus. I’ve been busy with the usual but I’ve also decided to relax more in the evenings and do things to help me wind down after a long day. So instead of blogging I’ve been obsessively watching  episodes of 30 Rock and reading books. Just finished The Namesake. Great up until the first half but the ending was a slight disappointment. Not that I didn’t feel guilty about not writing. Every evening I thought about it but you know, I decided not to get stressed about something that is essentially a hobby. I knew that when the moment was right, I’d start posting again.

So, it’s a good thing I got sick and am at home today. It means I can finally write! So without further ado, let me tell you about my recent mini holiday in Lombard Alps.

While the Milan area may not be as romantic and exciting as living in Rome or the Amalfi Coast, we do have one perk that makes us the “envy” of the Bel Paese: il ponte di Sant’Ambrogio, or the long weekend in commemoration of the St. Ambrose, the patron saint of Milan. What makes this holiday extra-special is that not only do we get St. Ambrose Day off (on December 7, also the traditional opening of the season at La Scala), the next day is the feast of the Immaculate Conception, which just so happens to be a national holiday in Italy. And this year we were extra lucky because December 7 and 8 fell on a Monday and Tuesday. So we basically had a four-day weekend!!

We decided to make the most of it and take the kids to the mountains, in the Valsassina and Valchiavenna valleys, to be precise. The little ‘uns were thrilled because the day before we left it had snowed in the area. Us big ‘uns were thrilled because we slept lots and ate even more! Here’s the photographic evidence:

Mountains in Valsassina

A December afternoon in the lovely town of Chiavenna

A selection of local coldmeats, including Valtellina's world-famous bresaola

Two different types of pizzoccheri, a "light" pasta dish made cooked with different types of cheeses, potatoes, swiss chard or cabbage, garlic, sage and butter. The pizzoccheri on the left are made with traditional buckwheat tagliatelle while the ones on the right are made with a type of gnocchi from the Chiavenna area.

Lombards on ice! A skating rink in Chiavenna.

After our lovely holiday we were still hungry for more, so I baked cupcakes. First time ever!

So that’s how we spent our first long weekend of the season. Now I’m desperately trying to book a hotel in Val d’Aosta for New Year’s but it’s not looking promising. So if we don’t get lucky, it means that I’ll be ringing in 2010 with the in-laws. Can someone please help me? Anyone?!?

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16 December 2009 at 11:59 pm 4 comments

Hard Act to Follow?

Ciao Bloggisti!

By now you’ve all heard about Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Boy, was that a surprise! Not that the man didn’t deserve it. Just wasn’t expecting it, is all. Am looking forward to seeing what the folks at SNL are going to make of the whole thing.

But I had an even bigger surprise a couple weeks ago. While on my way to work, listening to the fantabulous Luca Bottura on Radio Capital, I had the shock of my (relatively) young life. Bottura announced that (gasp, horror!) there was an official committee to promote the nomination of Silvio Berlusconi for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. And it was no joke! There’s an official site and everything, in Italian and Itanglish, where you can find out how to make donations to “back Silvio Berlusconi’s candidady (huh?!? Is that like becoming his sugar daddy??? Eww, no grazie!). You can also find out  why Silvio is on a par with Jimmy Carter, Muhammad Yunus and Al Gore. Truly thrilling science fiction.

But it gets more awesome. There’s even an official song/anthem, called La Pace Può (Peace Can). Are you ready for it, kids?? (warning: children, expectant mothers and diabetics are advised against watching this masterpiece)

Now be honest, did you throw up in your mouth just a little?

For those of you who don’t know Italian and couldn’t grasp the pure poetry of Loriana Lana’s lyrics, here’s an approximate translation of the first verse. Barf bags ready?

Peace can,
I will repeat
these words endlessly.
And the wind will be the one to spread it
and the world shall listen.
Peace can,
see for yourself
Abruzzo wakes up in disbelief.
Snow and sun
that meet,
and your hand is here.
There is a President
always present
that will accompany us.

He put his hand where?!? Now, how can our Silvio win the Nobel Peace Prize with lyrics like that? At least Obama had Michael Franti. Berluska clearly needs our help. Let’s come up with something better so that the great man at least has  a fighting chance. Am very much looking forward to your suggestions (anche in Italiano se volete)!

11 October 2009 at 12:56 am 6 comments

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