Happy new-ish year! Hope you had some lovely, peaceful, restful, glass-clinking, food-filled holidays. Ours were unusual: we spent a big chunk of them at the beach eating avocado on toast in true Aussie spirit while humming Frank Sinatra’s Christmas songs. Surreal.
And now, without even noticing, the holiday season is almonds gone. It was all so understated this year, I barely realised that today is 6th January. In Italy, we celebrated Epifania, the day when the three kings show up on the nativity scene, and also, the day when the Befana – the old witch who used to bring gifts to Italian kids before the whole Santa thing came up – descends into people’s fireplaces to fill up stockings. In my sock, I would find the simplest things –mandarins or clementines, a few sweets, perhaps colour pencils. It wasn’t as big of a deal as Christmas, but we all liked to keep the tradition alive.
A few things have happened since I last wrote here. The biggest news is that we’ve left London for the time being. I’ll be staying at my family home in the Venetian countryside for a little while. Leaving my day job, moving from London back to my village seemed a tad daunting at first, but I’ve been making the most of this newly found spare time by doing all the things that I love doing: cooking and reading, mostly. But also, exploring my home region of Veneto further and deeper, writing, and taking precious notes for projects that are materialising on the horizon.
The garden at our family home is exploding with the best autumnal colours, and with a few edible delights – pomegranates and jujubes. You might have caught sight of a jujube shrub or tree before; for one, they are very widespread in Veneto. Traditionally used as ornamental plants, locals slowly began to appreciate them for their fruits, which they would use to make confectionery and liqueurs.
Last week, I found some punnets of ruby-red, ripe, local strawberries at the market, and I couldn’t help myself being carried away (six punnets? why not). We have been feasting on them ever since – some straight from the bowl, others simply roasted, and others again in form of cake.