I earnestly thought that this day was never going to come. And then, just like that, I flipped the page of my planner and there it is, a scribbled note on November 28th reminding me that yes, the day has indeed finally come: US Publication Day. I can hardly believe it. It was a long sailing, I know it was. Those of you who had to wait so long to put your hands on a copy: I can’t thank you enough for your patience. I hope you think it was worth the wait.
In earnest, I didn’t know what it was going to feel like. Dispatching a book into the world, I mean. I thought, perhaps, that it was going to feel like a piece of you leaving your body and starting a life of its own – as if one day your arm decided to stop responding to your commands and became a thinking entity. And, in part, that’s how it felt. But it also felt like the gnome in the movie Amélie. Have you seen it? If you have, you might remember how, at one point, the gnome starts sending Polaroids from the places he visits. It’s funny, but that’s what the book did to me, too. Not only did it breach into the world, it also began to send me postcards from places like Milan, London, Zürich, Venice, Paris.
This, of course, is all thanks to you. It is you who send me pictures of Veneto in your kitchen, in bookshops, in cafés and any other place in which a book feels at home. It is you who turn it into a living thing – by using it, splattering it, reading it and, hopefully, loving it. So thank you for this, from the depth of my heart. Thank you for buying the book and for filling my heart with warm pride. Thank you also for the many sweet notes, emails, messages. I am beyond humbled and so, so glad you are enjoying reading and cooking from it. Please keep them coming, please keep sharing. It truly means the world.
One of my favourite long essays from the book tells the story of a food stall in Padova.
Parked in one of the central piazzas from mid-afternoon until dark, ready to sort out your pre-dinner snack, La Folperia (this the telling name of the stall) dishes out plate after plate of folpetti – boiled baby octopus droused in emerald-green salsa verde. This is not all it offers, mind. Max and Barbara, the affable stall ownders, can also sort out some seafood salad if you like. But it’s certain that octopus is the main point of attraction for both regulars and newcomers. Or, at least, I know it was for me.
I paid this stall a number of visits during my University years, always for folpetti, and always with a glass of white wine in hand. On these occasions I had the chance to observe the habits and behaviours, manners and hydiosincrasies, of the patrons gathering around this stall. But also to ask a few casual questions – how it’s the octopus cooked, for how long – and record them for future use. For I had never had octopus so tended before. And, to tell you the truth, I rerely have afterwards.
I am coming to you today as an old friend you don’t see for a while would: I’m full of things to tell you. The excitement is such that I might speak quickly and jump from one thing to the next without much of a connection. But I’d rather be overflowing than forgetful. So please stick with me, and we’ll get to the recipe before you know it.
First and foremost, I meant to tell you about Veneto, my cookbook, which will be released this Thursday. I feel like I’ve talked about it for so long now, that I’m struggling to fathom how fast time has passed. One week and those of you who preordered it in Europe will have a copy at their doorstep. I’m excited and terrified. Most of all, though, I just can’t wait for you to see it. It’s time.
On the meditative properties of pea podding I could write a pamphlet. Instead, I wrote this short post, which is much shorter than a pamphlet, and thank goodness for that, for no one would read it otherwise.
Perhaps you share in this sentiment: perhaps the sight of a bag of peas in their pod gets you every time, too. It’s a form of seduction that transcends the five senses, and that breaches into the emotional. It’s their promise of peacefulness I deeply cherish. As I picture the tender spheres rubbing shoulders inside their green zip coats, all I can think of is the silence that will follow – the ritual, and the patience it summons.