Two bars of soap & artichokes.

It has been three months now.

We have finished two bars of soap, a tube of toothpaste and I have bought a second set of sheets.

After all, when you don’t have a dryer and it is winter…sleeping on wet sheets the same day you wash them is…very cold.

I am getting the hang of things.

All the company has gone now — I think I already had mentioned that. We are back to work and school as well, also as I think I had mentioned.

I am happy to report that I have been able to get some help with some things in the apartment.   I feel like I have won the jackpot to have found help.  It is an amazing feeling.

Hurray for my helper!

Last week we had a number of days where we were steeped in English. This was relaxing for our brains but also super, super confusing.   Too quickly my brain reverted to its fifty-six year groove — like a bowling ball just rolling into the gutter because it is easy…I found myself almost standing in the alley, waving my arms, silently shouting to myself “not the gutter!”, “not the gutter!”.

And my first day back in Italiano was a cluster f***, basically.
This whole week…a wash.

Not only to pursue the washing image but because it cheers me — I bought a bar of soap.

”Impulse soap”, R calls it.

He teases me that I buy soap when I am having tons of feelings…but hey…we need soap.    So yeah, there is new soap and there are some fresh socks.

When life gets messy it helps to buy a bar of soap.

I need to get out more, clearly.  But you know, that is actually the point.  I am getting out.  Class has now moved to fill the morning hours and in the afternoons I am walking and walking and walking…and the air and the socks and the soap are having their effect.

This week I started reading Fabio Volo’s book “Il Giorno in Più “ (One More Day).  I am really liking it.   I love his style of writing.  It’s amazing that I can read it.

It’s cold here, still. A bit colder than Gennaio, attualmente…but when the sun shines, like today…everything feels hopeful, there is a quickening in the air to remind us that Spring is down the road.

We have been going to the outdoor markets where we can buy wool hats and gloves and used cashmere sweaters…and new cashmere sweaters…and strawberries from Sicilia and artichokes and artichokes and artichokes!

I have been making these artichokes.

It is artichoke season now.  (Duh!) A short but wonderful season.   I have been preparing artichokes multiple different ways.

But first — we have been having a lot of Polenta.  It is a winter basic here.   Made fresh…then leftovers cubed and pan-fried for the next meals.  I have learned that one wonderful way to make it is to soak the polenta in the cooking water for multiple hours ahead of time.  The grains get huge and soft and there is a fuller flavor.    The most amazing comfort food.  It is the basis of my artichoke dishes.

To make Carciofi (artichokes) alla Romana — I am buying the smaller artichokes, removing so many of the tougher leaves, cutting them in half lengthwise and removing the choke with a small spoon.    I am filling the centers with a combination of fresh oregano and mint and minced garlic…mixed together with a small amount of sea salt and olive oil.   Squeeze a lemon or two on top so they don’t get brown. Then braise in olive oil and white wine in a deep frying pan, covered, until soft.

To make a red version of these, cut and clean the artichokes as above…but instead of adding a filling, put in a deep frying pan with a bit of white wine, tomato sauce, whole stewed tomatoes, oregano, parsley…and braise until soft.    People tell me that when they were small and artichokes were in season, they ate them for breakfast, lunch and dinner (colazione, pranzo e cena!)

Carciofi (artichokes) freshly cleaned and ready to magically become Carciofa alla Romana.

We finally had our appointment at the Questura…the police station…for fingerprinting for our residency documents.   Because we are staying past the ninety-day mark we have had a mountain of paperwork to do.   The fingerprinting (“Biometrics”) appointment was not horrible.

Just what we had to do.

Like every little step is a check mark in our lives here.

We are no longer afraid of using the public transport.  It has become second nature.   We went out for Apertivo last night with the students in my class.  We were like…the grandparents.  We were also the first to leave.  You know, that’s a thing that grandparents do.  Apparently.

Siamo anziani…we are the older folks.

Every year at this time in Italy is the super famoso San Remo Music Festival.  Apparently, it has been so successful for so many years that eventually Eurovision was created in its image.  I figured that even though R and I have never been ‘reality show’ watchers, we would watch this.   It may seem campy to many but hey, it is a part of this culture and we are living here.

So…every night for five nights many groups are performing songs that have never been published or performed publicly before.   At this point our favorite is “Annalisa”  singing ”Il Mondo Primo di Te”.  You can listen HERE

We are going to try to head to a different town on Sunday to explore.

More later.


Our neighborhood, The Navigli, at night…

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