Tuesday, December 29

The main point of Italy is the food

 In another life, about a century ago, I took the position of Cook for a Contessa in a Palazzo just outside Verona. A lady called Itsi Maraschino drove me around the neighbourhood pointing out where I must buy food; for vegetables I was to go to a massive barn where farmers dropped off crates of freshly picked produce - rows of aubergine and courgette varieties, vegetables that I'd never heard of, ten different sorts of artichokes - and all that was before I discovered the lettuce barn - or the cheeses.

Last week (while in Rome... ) we visited the Colosseum and then we were too hungry to read a map properly so we kept getting lost and all the while looking for THE place to eat - finally we fell into a cafe run by a Chinese family who served frozen pizza with a comedy sideshow.

Today we got in the car and drove to Frascati, a town apparently full of good restaurants but so full of cars and traffic jams that we drove on past, winding our way up a hill towards another town.

On the roadside we spotted a 'hostelerie' that looked probably-closed. We stopped and it seemed almost definitely closed-for-the-winter but we walked round to a side door that appeared to be the private house section, we were going to creep away but I was so hungry that I became brave and opened the door expecting to surprise a family eating fish fingers in front of their television.

Lo! the door opened to a proper restaurant dining room with a blazing fire and other diners and a kitchen where cooking was happening and a table for us where we were served artichokes and ham and polenta that was crisp outside and soft inside with orange zest, then torteloni with truffles and cheesy cream then an astonishing salad of white crunchy stems dressed with garlic and anchovy.

Home tomorrow!

Sunday, December 27

the pigs won't eat broccoli

but they love apples, carrots and cucumber and they especially love banana

we have fallen into a routine:  breakfast is dropped off at the manpig's estate, the ladypig waddles out with me to the oak tree to snorkel for acorns then returns to remodel the interior of her home

I can now tell the cats apart - this is mainly because the one who's been getting five breakfasts daily since my arrival is now 'the fat one'

My Christmas projects have been to watch the 'Star Wars Trilogy' and to read Naomi Klein's 'No Logo' - all this catching up with the latest in popular culture has emboldened me to consider finding out who the Spice Girls are and how to do a 'selfie'

Friday, December 25

did I mention the pigs?

the manpig has curly tusks - due to excessive boisterousness he lives in a secured enclosure, a sort of overgrown quarry with roman remains in the middle of it. The ladypig lives separately in a wooden house encircled by a wire enclosure, inside the wooden house she has constructed a giant nest of hay.

She lets herself in and out of the enclosure via a spring door that she can manoeuvre with her body, she spends her days trundling around the garden, visiting the neighbouring olive grove or chatting to the boisterous one through his fence.

The pig owners met us briefly to discuss feeding schedules and health issues - they are concerned that the ladypig seems unfeasibly fat and are sure that it's down to her lack of exercise - the Man and I have a strong suspicion that her fatness is due to soon-to-arrive piglets.

This morning the ladypig and I walked down to the oak tree for an acorn-ey breakfast accompanied by cucumber and carrot, she looks even bigger than she did yesterday and she made a very nice leafy nest for her afternoon nap.

I've been scanning the interweb for pig-mid-wifery tips: rubber gloves and iodine and  a special piglet box need to be on hand.

Monday, December 21

we are staying in a house on a hill

about 15 miles outside Rome  - there's a great view over the city

the Man is explaining the Olden Days to me

They used to stand here and look at Rome, and when Rome was burning they said 'Fuck Me -  Rome's burning!'

I am being played

when I get up this morning a cat sticks herself to my legs until I feed her then she disappears outside

the other (identical) cat is nowhere to be seen 

five minutes later a cat appears asking to be fed this must be the other cat so I feed her then she goes outside and out of sight

five minutes later a cat walks in asking to be fed

it takes 6 bowls of food before I am convinced that each cat has eaten at least one bowl of food

Sunday, December 20

currently in charge of 2 pigs and 2 cats

the cats are called Ping and Pong, they seem identical but their human has assured me that they are completely opposite in personality - one hates being touched and the other loves attention - Touchable and Untouchable.

It seems very common for cats to have personality transplants as soon as their human has left the building - both cats throw themselves at our feet demanding caresses as we try and walk around their home

Tuesday, December 15

end of term

 back in Bristol  spending an afternoon knitting with my Japanese house-mate - today was a day off from her job in a Japanese restaurant

she'd been out for lunch

I asked her where she went and what she ate

a cafe for sandwiches, I always go and eat sandwiches on my day off - at work it's so much rice

Friday, December 11

How people behave:

  the faculty christmas party turned out to be two parties, the first was full of new students being garish in the strip-lit common room. The other party was in the room next door, it was attended by  faculty staff and people who'd been students a really long time. In order to keep the second party secret from the first party, the second party turned the lights off and giggled together in the dark.

Last lecture of term

5pm yesterday.  last week's newsletter made passing mention of a forthcoming presentation in one of the lecture theatres by Kate Tempest, a young poet whose prodigious and varied output as a writer and musician, garners awards and accolades in abundance.

she came to Bristol earlier this year and people were murdering each other for tickets

at 5pm I was seated at the front row of a half empty lecture theatre, Ms Tempest seated behind a desk as a few more students trailed in late

we got a show 

it was impressive 

at 6 sharp a booted skirted fierce woman appeared at the door to tut-tut and look at her watch she walked away slightly then reappeared to tut a bit more.

we hurriedly clapped and all got up to go but the next event which involved trolley loads of sandwiches was already being wheeled in and we all got stuck together in the doorway.

Sunday, December 6

Last week

I had a two-day turnaround between cats, these were 'no-school' days so I went home to Bristol, the Man was away in the USA but there was a bar of chocolate on the shelf and bacon and cheese in the fridge, the chocolate contained raisins to ensure a balanced diet.

last week was all about listening - highlights include:

a talk about the pebble-iness of a section of east devon, how it came to be that way and all the things people do with pebbles from Bronze age cairns to the bounding walls of new housing-estates via victorian farmyards

being shown images of brightly painted designs on ritual houses in an area of Indonesia and realising that we were looking at thousands of vaginas

I ushed another talking event, this one with David Attenborough about what we need to do to halt the progress of climate change, someone described trees as being blocks of congealed carbon and how we need lots more congealed carbon - the best ways to do this included growing lots of seaweed and thinking of things to make with seaweed. Methane is also something we need to deal with - in Korea they have worked out a way of capturing methane in used coffee grounds.

I am back in London now, looking after bum-crayon cat who is currently stalking me in big circles but refusing to let me touch her

Tuesday, December 1


I'm packed and ready to leave my latest home, the cat that I've been looking after, recognising the signs of desertion, is howling mournfully and trying to trip me up

I shall stay until her real people come home - I have told her this but she doesn't believe me!

Related Posts with Thumbnails