Have you ever visited the still lives gallery at the Royal Palace of Caserta? The section dedicated to food paintings is so appetising you will want to grab a fork. As a matter of fact, the history of this essential piece of cutlery has more to share with this lavish royal residency in the South of Italy than you may think.
Soup is the icon dish of this blog. It represents many things we like: genuine food, traditional knowledge, care, warmth. Not all the soups are made alike, however, and there’s one particular version we’d never want on our plate. Believe it or not, you’re one of the cooks.
Last week I showed you where to have a great meal in jail. I wouldn’t be living up to Italian hospitality rules if I didn’t offer you dessert and coffee after lunch. As Soup As Possible met Pasticceria Giotto and Caffé Lazzarelle to tell you how they’re made in jail.
Some people find cooking therapeutic. Food helps us connect with each other across differences. Everybody eats. Truisms, aren’t they? But the most obvious things can be revolutionary in unexpected places. I realized that last month, when I went to jail. [Watch the video below]
For centuries, Amsterdam has also been referred to as Mokum, from the Yiddish word mokem, meaning refuge, safe haven. The city earned the nickname during times of religious persecutions in Europe, when Jews and other religious refugees would seek asylum here. It wasn’t the best of times for Dutch Catholics, who – in turn – were discriminated and persecuted on this very land, especially during the Protestant Reformation. The Yiddish nickname, together with the celebrated ‘Dutch tolerance’, stuck with the city of Amsterdam, while refugees from all over Europe contributed their skills and resources to shape the Dutch economy, society and even the city landscape to this day.
In the spring of 2005 I was dealing with my first real job in a communication agency. My office was in a business incubator located in a repurposed industrial site out of town; quite a charming setting, although hard to reach by public transport. As I stood waiting for my bus to the city after the working day, I would watch rows of cars leave the premises; nearly all of them left in my same direction and had no passengers. That patent waste of fuel, space, money and time (this latter being on me) kept nagging at me for a few days. As an optimistic 24 years old at the peak of her naivety, I soon worked out what seemed a common-sense solution: I wrote a friendly note introducing myself and my proposal and pinned it to the message-board in the hall of the building, positive that some of the many young and progressive people working there would respond enthusiastically to share car rides and expenses with me.
Watch the book releases in September: something warm and tasty is cooking for you and some other millions people. That food connects us one another and to our environment is a very basic concept we first learn as school kids, with that of food chain. Unfortunately we tend to forget that we live in a network of feeding relationships with the world, until we bump into a reminder.
I am completely fond of etymology and the way one word or expression can condense centuries of history, stories and anecdotes within a bunch of syllables. Take the Italian expression pane e companatico, for instance. While it is quite easy to work out that ‘pane’ means bread, ‘companatico’ is slightly more challenging to decipher.
I received my first birthday present up in the sky this year. The author of the gift was my dear friend Nina, with whom I was travelling from Amsterdam to Lucca, Italy, to celebrate. We were probably flying over Germany or France when she handed me a funny patterned bag and wished me happy birthday.