Bits of serendipity

by Laura A

It’s March! It’s really a lovely day here, in the high 50s and sunny.  People are out in the piazzas, and we have our balcony doors open for the first time this year.  Bob is home again from the US. We went to church and then went out to lunch again at the bistro that I wrote about a few weeks back. This time we helped translate an order for some British consultants. On the other side of us were three couples speaking a combination of French and Italian.

Sarie may have a part in a low-budget movie, but I’ll tell more details about that later, after she’s done some of it.  Meanwhile, we are making plans for all of us to go to back to Georgia and New York this summer, and for her to go back to the festival in the Catskills this summer with a friend from the Torino conservatory–this girl is the best violinist there, really.

In order to make plans for this summer, we had dinner at the friend’s family home last night. As usual, it was interesting having dinner with Italians. They made us farinatafoccaccia and individual pizze in a hand-built brick oven. During dinner, Sarie’s friend’s little brother helped Bob with his pronunciation of  soccer team names (“Not regia, reggia!”), and Bob taught him the names of American basketball teams (“Seventy-seeks.  Errs.”). After dinner Sarie’s friend’s father explained how he makes violins. Yes, he makes violins!  It’s his hobby.  We find that this sort of advanced hobby is quite common in Italy.  (See also the first sentence of the previous paragraph.)

Oh, and this morning my friend Francesca brought me some real espresso cups from a coffee bar. I’ve been really wanting some because they’re thick, like my restaurant ware dishes, and I couldn’t find any to buy anywhere.  I really think espresso tastes better out of thick white porcelain.

When we went out for coffee last week and I mentioned in passing that I couldn’t find real espresso bar cups anywhere, she smiled knowingly. “Oh, you just have to ask someone who owns a coffee bar to give you some!”

“Ask?”  I said, “Oh, I don’t think I’d be comfortable doing that!”

“Hmm, I guess not. You’re not Italian,” she nodded. “I have a friend…”  And then showed up at church this morning with six cups and saucers.

Bob goes to Japan next Saturday.

Other than that, things go on as usual.

DSC_1433 DSC_1427

Top:  Caffè macchiato in our new cups. Bottom: It goes well with this Piemontese torta alla cioccolata, which was gift (along with the recipe) from another friend’s mom.  You put jam inside the slices as you go.

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At JJ’s request, here’s the recipe for the chocolate cake.  I hope I’m not giving away secrets!  I think you could do the same sort of jam-filling with any good chocolate cake, so if I get this adaptation wrong, just use your own favorite chocolate cake recipe.

Also, keep in mind that Italians don’t precisely measure all their recipes like Americans do.  They learn a lot of them in the home.  So, if you try this and it doesn’t come out moist, keep adjusting it.  The original is, to use an Engliano phrase, “Moist-issimo!”

3 eggs

7 spoonfuls of sugar (see what I mean?)

2 glasses (a glass is roughly a cup, I think) of “00” grade flour (very fine)

1 glass mixed flour, bitter cocoa powder, and 16 g package leavening (the Italian brand is PaneAngeli, and according to a website I found, it has equal parts vanilla, baking powder and baking soda in it)

1/2 glass oil (she uses sunflower instead of olive to keep the taste neutral)

Mix well and put in the oven at 180 degrees C (~350F).

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