I am reliving being in Italy in the summer and buying fruit at the market. It is hot. The bag holding my peach is a language and etiquette lesson all in one. As is the bag holding the cherries that I eat as I walk through the Villa Borghese on the way to meet a friend at the Press Club of Rome.
I stop at a bench and study the map. I am crossing through the park and then down the hill towards the Piazza del Popolo but I want to buck, wrongly as it turns out, the directions I have been given. Lesson: One must embrace instructions, particularly when one doesn't know where one is, even when the directions seem counterintuitive. This one ended up wandering into a deserted and untended area of the park skirted by a busy road. If there is a way to get to the Spanish Steps without being crushed by a motorino or bus, I couldn't find it. Eventually, the long detour led me to the steps leading down to the churches of Caravaggio and I was on my way in familar territory on the Via del Babuino.
It is winter and all my day dreams are of adventure and escape. Wanderlust.
I've made zaleti—the biscotto of Venetians and the Veneto but I have modified the cornmeal cookies adding thyme and dried cherries instead of raisins and pine nuts. But cherries are big in a relative way. They will take up too much space on the tongue for the kind of delicate treat I want to make. I start snipping them in half with my kitchen shears, then in quarters, then in eighths. Sunday morning, in a fog, wearing Paul's flannel pajama bottoms (given to me by his wife & my friend Patience). I like to think the late, great Chef Paul is watching over the entire process and, with his sunrise of a grin, nodding in approval as I begin the time consuming task of cutting the fleshy cherries into tinier pieces. I take the zaleti to Lisa Lee's annual cookie party brunch and win a prize.
Next week I make my father's turrón. And I will dream of Spain.