I admit it. I love food. I love to cook, too, and I’m told I’m that that not bad it. But I am closet foodie. The only time I think I am a good cook is when I have one of those moments during a meal, in which I’ve forgotten that I was the one who prepared it all. It’s a great feeling when you truly enjoy a meal you’ve prepared, without being critical of yourself.
A prime reason for being in Italy is the excellent selection of fresh, locally sourced, seasonal ingredients. Whether it’s porcini mushrooms, fresh figs, handmade pasta stuffed with seasonal goodness, or well-aged and seasoned prosciutto, anyway you slice it, it’s an ‘all in’ proposition for me.
Moving around as I have done frequently has taught me to make a home wherever I am. One thing I have figured out is that Sunday can be the worst day of the week when you are alone in a new city, far away from home, family and friends. Sunday is the day everything slows down. It is the day for quiet contemplation and reflection. It’s the day I realize I have no company!
Growing up in an Italian family, Sunday was the day our family got together for a decent (often reverent) meal, a nap on the couch and lots of free time to talk about life, the week ahead and the one that had just passed.
Now, lonely Sundays have become a prime motivation for making new friends and forging new relationships. Breaking bread is a lovely way to do this. In my first few days here, I stayed in a quaint bed and breakfast at the edge of the city. Il Torrino is nestled on the border between Fiesole and Florence at the bottom of an olive grove that starts at via Bolognese and ends at the restored farmhouse where my hosts, Letiza and Pier Giuseppe Castrucci, live. I quickly became friends with this handsome couple, both a bit younger than my parents. Soon we were sharing meals and sharing stories, and we’ve stayed in touch even after I found a place to live.
Soon after I settled into my new place, my new friends extended a lovely invitation to lunch. I was craving that Sunday company, and the invitation could not have come at a better time. After a short bus ride and walk, I found myself back in the house where I spent the first night of this, my most recent adventure.
Little did I know that this particular Sunday lunch would be one of the most memorable meals I had in a long while. Luckily, I was able to record some of the preparation and the cooking, and so I can share the little film I made, Domenica. After lunch, we looked at the black and white photos in my friends’ wedding album.
On the ride home, belly filled with good food, I thought about Filippo Brunelleschi and the meals he might have eaten in fourteenth-century Florence. What food was it that helped him live to the ripe old age of 69? That thought led me to a few more famous Florentines, and more precisely, one of the most famous names in Italian culinary history.