I am ridiculously shameless when it comes to my birthday. I think it’s because, until I was an adult, my birthdays were low-key affairs: school was out, I was typically in the countryside, most of my friends away on their own adventures. I am still making up for it by stretching the proceedings as long as I can. Last year, I hosted a potluck of just girls. It was so much fun I am repeating it this year, with a slightly different mix of women – July is still the time when many take time off. Very often, women I know, women I meet briefly and women who will never join my circle are a big source of inspiration, comfort and motivation. Here are some who came to mind just this week.
Campari & Sofa Posts
At every birthday party I ever attended as a child, Italian mothers invariably served the same staples: salatini (tiny puff pastry rolls filled with either ham and cheese or anchovy paste); panettone salato (a dome-shaped tower of different sandwiches purchased at the pasticceria that had its monopoly for years); and my favorite, la pizzetta.
I came back from vacation to two weeks of insane work. Still basking in the relaxation of the time off and the reframing that always happens when very far away, I got through it all without hiccups. But I am glad to have the next few days to myself with no other plans than to plan my birthday. I am going to sit back, relax, read and waste time looking at cute animals on FB. Your plans?
To my seven-year old eyes, Bologna, the city where I grew up, seemed a vast metropolis. A city of half a million people, with a famous and vibrant university, it was safe enough that, from the age of seven or eight, I would walk to school unaccompanied. I lived in the center of town and everything that lay outside the medieval walls was unknown to me, and it’s what conjured vastness.
I recently read an article that made the point that eating in a big city, anywhere in the globe, will reward the diner with same flavor profiles, if not exactly the same dishes. Chefs talk to each other, they read about each other, imitate each other, to the point that you can have similar meals in Barcelona or Sydney. I would venture to concur. Even the architecture and decor of restaurants everywhere is becoming homogenous. The same words are on the lips of diners in Los Angeles or Paris: locavore, seasonal, organic…avocado on toast. During the two weeks I spent in South Africa, steered by sofagirl, I ate at quite a few spots that served honest, in-season and delicious food that was both familiar but also reminded me I was very many miles away from home.