bread

On togetherness

It's freezing cold in Paris. As I was cycling through its streets to meet with clients this afternoon, I couldn't accompany the illuminating city sight with the usual humming of "Sous le ciel de Paris", simply because my voice wouldn't come out, my face being literally masked out by the cold. The nice news is, though, that it only takes a few pieces of the loveliest brown bread, a basic flower arrangement (or a bunch of fresh parsley, in my case today) and a warm dish to make it all flawlessly cozy again. Tonight, let's make something that warms our hearts. Suppertime sacred togetherness. I'm all about pumpkin tortelli these days, which I made on one of my pop up events lately.

As to its origins , it is thought that the these particular ravioli pasta have Renaissance origins and have seemingly been designed after the European conquest of America because of the large amount of pumpkin available back then, that is the main ingredient of tortelli. Its heart is filled with this soft vegetable, spiced up with mustard and finely chopped amaretti (artisanal biscuits made with almonds and egg whites).

The, I'll allow myself to say it, utterly liberating ritual tied to the handmaking of pasta is one of a kind: it demands to be nurtured, wrapped, massaged and scented, just like our tired bodies would need at the end of a long, cold day. Italian writer Elsa Morante who, amongst many things, has been recognized for being at the forefront of  magic realism (a wave I very much embrace in my totally dreamy, Mary Poppins like existence) in the Italian literature, once said: "The truest love sentence, and the only one, is: have you been eating?".

With love and tortelli,

Eleonora

A day at the bakery

The morning was crispy and fragrant, like fresh bread, when I headed to one of the oldest bakeries in town in order to learn the secrets behind the Italian essential for excellence: il pane. Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

5:30 a.m. A ray of light touches Piazza Del Pantheon and, as the breeze caresses my, brrrrrr!!!, too summary outfit (there’s still quite a temperature shift from night to day) giving me the shivers, I realized, once again, that Rome in the morning holds the most dazzling of secrets: it looks like it’s been built a moment ago, for your eyes only. Oh my, what a bliss.

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As I walked by the narrow roads, the Roman cobblestones, i sanpietrini, leaded me to the most sumptuous tiny squares, as greeting as a lively living room. I went through the Ponte Sisto and found myself in the bohemian Trastevere district. Having been an authentic Roman for my entire life, I still find it quite hilarious to get lost in the melting pot of side streets to the point that, after my first coffee and with my head clear enough, or so I thought, I still couldn’t’ quite find my way to the oldest baker in town, turning flour into bread with lievito madre (sourdough), which makes it fluffy and lasting for over a week.

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But then Gina appeared: imagine a lady dressed in black, all frowned and focused while peeling potatoes, who told me, unflappable: “You obviously got lost my dear, it’s the most wonderful thing I can tell you”, which only added to my feeling of inadequacy in front of Rome, a city where one always feels either too big or too small.

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Abandoning myself to that overindulging feeling, I finally found my way through the most iconic of senses: smell.

Dusty, floury, and oily, bread is usually to be found in every Italian table, a synonymous of hospitality and prosperity. Back in the old days the well to do families would consume nothing but white bread, as a symbol of their accomplished wealth, whereas the brown bread would be left for the agricultural working class.

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The head baker Giampiero is an institution at one of the very few last bakeries in town. He and the boys treated me like an equal for the entire shift, and that included handling packages of 25 Kg. flour and bite the pizza dough to make it flawless and crusty. I felt as happy as ever when I finally got my hands on my first filone (Roman style loaf of bread) ever, even though I burnt a finger in the process, since it was too irresistible and I simply couldn't resist. But that's part of the game, I guess.

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I brought a bunch of bread loaves on my basket, they look like a well decorated bouquet of flowers. I jumped on my bike, thinking about the millions sauces that will accompany it for brunch tomorrow. Let the weekend begin.

With bread and tulips,

Eleonora

It's #romanity. Sneak peek #5

It's Sunday. Finally. The day ahead is for us only, no tough projects or serious intentions allowed. Sunday in Rome, particularly, is truly a treat. Walking through the eternal city as if it belonged to you, when the purpose of noise is to make silence resonate. A typical Sunday in Rome would involve, of course, looking for the perfect lunch. There's no better way than doing it in one of the city markets. The Campagna Amica one offers a choice of products coming from the Roman countryside and 100% naturally grown.

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Once the selection of  the tastiest ingredients is dealt with, it's time to think about the perfect table sparks. Other than being a grace for the eye, flowers can also be poured into caster sugar and make for a wonderful cake decoration.

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Every Italian table would have at least one loaf of bread, to be considered a respectable measure of conviviality.  Most of us opt for a "scarpetta": after overindulging in your Sunday's lasagna, you take a piece of bread and clean the rest of the plate off the delicious leftover sauce. Strictly with your hands. Beware of all imitations.

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As my friend and partner in this project Cucina Digitale would put it - whether the weather - Sunday lunch is a sacred event.

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Taking long walks with a #romanity attitude and your favourite Sunday paper are likely to make you stumble upon Locandas and Trattoria. The typical sunday specials around here are: Lasagna, bucatini all' Amatriciana, Vignarola, Roast Lamb with Potatoes. And #foodhappiness as a cherry on the cake. Can you read it on my face?

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What's your favourite Sunday treat?

Happy thoughts to you all,

Eleonora

Blown away by the images? Blame it on Cucina Digitale amazing sight.