15 Janurary 2011
Podere Conti/Pontremoli, Italy
Relishing at all the differences while traveling is, no doubt, a full-time job, and loads of fun. But it’s even more amusing to see the universal similarities in people. Italian children are no exception. Watching these four Conti boys has me in stitches, since I am the American guest who brought such wonderful gifts as four whoopee cushions and a bag of punch balls from across the pond. Yesterday at breakfast, I was singled out for a well-rehearsed concert, featuring “The Adams Family Started When Uncle Fester Farted…” complete with a fart-tone baseline using the new “instruments.” A lack of enthusiasm for vegetables is another universal trait, as is that of their parents’ endless mealtime negotiation.
Enter cheese, the miracle nanny.
This past week were the first (dun—duh- dun) photo shoots of 2011 culture magazine and I had the pleasure of being beside it all.
First off: (day one)
We shot a flavored cheese feature. Among were a few common and widely known flavors for cheese and a few lesser known and unique flavors as well (see pictures). My roll as the intern
I heard the woman ask for New York State Cheddar.
Immediately, I was thrilled; in fact, I could barely contain my glee. This was the first moment of the first day on a new job. And it wasn’t just any new job. It was the summer of 1984, two years after I’d graduated college, intent on becoming a writer. My first post-collegiate job turned into a marathon nightmare of 100 hour workweeks that left no time whatsoever for writing (and little for sleeping or leisure). This was my first day on the sales floor at my new job as a cheesemonger in Bloomingdales Fresh Food area, a part time job that I figured would pay my share of the rent (which was barely $350 in a NoLita duplex; doesn’t 1984 seem like a long time ago?) and enable me to develop a journalism career.
We’ve got heaps of snow lying around, how long will we have snow on the ground? We scraped the snow up so we can reach the animals and get to the cheese, making huge piles like disorderly snowmen. I’m old enough to remember 1963, when I was very sad and the grown-ups were inexplicably happy when the snow finally went away in March. My son made a convincing looking igloo by packing snow into a box to make blocks and built them into something big enough for 3 lads to sit in, grinning wider than the doorway.
We can see the tracks of wildlife – deer, boar, rabbits, hares, badgers and foxes. We can see how bold they are, coming right up to the house, deer going between the house and barns. It’s hard for them, and hunger drives them closer. When the snow goes, everything has that battered look, all the food the wildlife rely on deep frozen and thawed.
25 December 2010
So, it’s 9:45 on Christmas night, and I can honestly say that I am fed up with eating, at last. Seriously. Camembert, Smoked Gouda, Iberico, Manchego, Quince Paste, crudite, crackers, sourdough rolls, ginger and walnut loaf, Menage a Trois, ham, turkey, cabbage salad, herb salad, tart cranberries, farfalla primavera… and then the desserts. Four cakes, a gingerbread loaf, homemade fudge, snowballs, shortbread, a molasses cookie with cracked black pepper in it, oatmeal cookies, white chocolate covered pretzels… My mom went all-out for days and is now nestled in her bed with the beginning of a winter flu, the poor love. As I am writing this, the last stirring creature, my Dad, has just crept by, fingers gesturing “goodnight,” after having wrapped white bundt cake with peppermint drizzle and cinnamon coffee cakes in plastic to the stylings of the Vince Guaraldi Trio on repeat.
I just got this inspiring little blog from Anya, a young contributor to our magazine:
Hello my name is Anya Firisen. I am ten years old and I wanted to make cheese. I thought that cheese making was interesting because I love cheese and I love to cook. So I thought, well why don’t I try to make the cheese that I love so much. So when my Mom got my Dad a book called “Home Cheese Making” by Ricki Carroll for his birthday, I really wanted to try it for myself. My Mom said, “You and Anya can make cheese together!” When we went over to our friends’ house their mom said “I booked a cheese making class but now I can’t go, do you want to go in my place?” Of course I said yes.
Following in Stephanie’s footsteps…my favorite things in 2010!
Annie’s cheddar Bunnies – cheezits got nothin’ on these, I think Kate Arding might agree
Daelia’s biscuits for cheese – so tasty! I especially like the hint of black pepper in these…quite delicious. They are available at Whole Foods, I believe.
My earliest memories of home made food came from my Babci (Polish for grandmother) when I was around 10 years old. My grandmother used to make such specialties as pierogi (stuffed dumplings) and galumki (cabbage rolls) on a regular basis, especially around the holidays. I remember us sitting at the kitchen table pinching the little dumplings shut with floured fingers and later eating them; each with a golden fried crust and a black peppery bite (oh, and while watching the 'Price is Right' on the television).