Archive for April, 2008

The Glory of Santa Cristina

My mother’s village, Sepino, in Central-South Italy commemorates the 900th anniversary of the death of Santa Cristina, Virgin and Martyr, Protector of Sepino this year. Hundreds of emigrants are coming back to celebrate. My whole family is going by train from Genoa which is 500 miles to the north. My brother Piero and his family will drive to Sepino from Rome.

We meet my brother in Rome at stazione Termini. My daughter Irene, my mother, and our luggage will continue the trip in his car. My husband Tim, my son Stefano, and I will go by train. Sepino is only two and a half hours away.

Continue reading ‘The Glory of Santa Cristina’

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Baccalà-stockfish

Definitely an acquired taste
is necessary
to appreciate
the earthiness

of this sea creature
– nothing but mere cod –
preserved in barrels full of Atlantic salt
or dried stiff in the cold northern wind.

Baccala, stock fish
an epithet
people less than flexible
in their views, personality, or posture
earn from unsympathetic people.
Yet, unused taste buds need to make
quite an athletic leap
into the unknown
bending over backwards
to reach its depth of flavor
bordering between decay and sublime
like anything worth our love and interest.

Baccala, stock fish
whole empires were built on it.
Maybe we owe it to its proteins
if the Vikings had the energy and skill
to come this way of the Atlantic Ocean
a thousand years before Columbus did.

For us itâs just a treat
a curiosity, a gastronomic leap of faith.
Maybe, if I do it right,
soak it the right amount of time
– changing the water often –
add those Greek olives and capers,
good olive oil and parsley,
some fresh tomato
– a soft polenta on the side is optional –
I might acquire that sophisticated taste
and appreciate its flakiness.

This is what I promise you
in handing out this recipe.
Try it once at least.
You will feel strong and nourished,
ready for great adventures.
The world will stretch its limits,
its possibilities will look endless,
the way they must have seemed
to the people who feasted
on this peculiar dish
since the beginning of history.


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