Day 283 of 366 Blog Challenge 2012

Hello all

Cook Books are great for many reasons but this morning Geoff and I were learning to speak Italian from one while we were having our morning cup of tea in bed. An interesting way to learn a language you might say?

Yes indeed, but I had received an Italian Cook Book for my birthday and I was going through the recipes trying to say the names of the dishes written in Italian. Luckily, the author of ‘Amalfi Coast Recipes’Amanda Tabberer (yes Maggie’s daughter) has written the English translation in small writing nearby or else I wouldn’t have learned anything! (Amanda did live in Italy for 20 years).

Let me show you what I mean. The dish called:

“PANINI con i CICCIOLI e PANCETTA in English is: Bread Plaits with Pork Rind and Pancetta.” Here is how you learn the language: PANINI = bread; con = with; CICCIOLI = pork; e = and; PANCETTA = pancetta of course.”

Oh dear, already there are flaws in my theory because both Geoff and I have no idea what the ‘i’ stands for in front of the CICCIOLI! Can anyone help out there?

Okay … well you may laugh, but Geoff and I learned to count to ten in Italian when we spent a week on board the Italian cruise ship The Costa Serena (no, not the one that sunk). As we caught the lift up and down the ship several times a day, the lift ‘spoke’ the number of each floor in Italian so by the time we left the ship, we knew how to count a little in Italian!

This came in handy because the very day we left the ship we were put to the test while waiting for a train in Venice. A message came over the loudspeaker concerning our train. It flashed up on the monitor and the voice said a number in Italian which I recognised as ‘five’ from taking the lifts. The train was close so we hastily made the switch to Platform 5. Others were all heading for that platform so we knew we heard right!

Now, who said you cannot learn a language in strange ways? So now, four years later, we are trying to add a few more words to our already very limited Italian vocabulary. Perhaps we will just have to make the sacrifice, tear ourselves away from home and go back to Italy so that we can learn a little more? Someone has to do it folks …

Andrea Bocelli

Anyway, if this isn’t going to happen, we may just have to settle for cooking Italian food from Amanda Tabberera’s cookbook, put on a CD of some Italian tenor singing his heart out (Andrea Borcelli perhaps?) grab a bottle of red wine and ‘pretend’ we are in Italy.

If you haven’t heard of Andrea Borcell, listen to this blind Italian tenor sing on his website He does have a rather amazing voice and has serenaded Geoff and I on many an occasion whilst having simple pasta and a glass of red. Andrea became known through winning the San Remo Song Contest in 1994 and the rest, as they say, is history. His biography on his website did make me chuckle though:

“… the infancy of a legend follows a course which breaks traditions. From then on the tone of his voice has brought tenderness to the world and his fame has increased exponentially. Because “if God could sing, He would sound a lot like Andrea Bocelli”. Even Celine Dion’s famous comment is a clear, unadorned testament to the artist’s mythical status as well as the perception of a gift…”

Slightly over the top you think?  However, Andrea certainly has a gift and has won many awards to prove it. He is most famous for singing “Time to Say Goodbye” with people like Sarah Brightman and Celine Dion but he can just as well sing opera also. In 2010 he got his own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contribution to musical theatre, so he is no slouch.

The Almalfi Coast

So, thanks to one lovely cookbook given to me by my daughter, we are having this Italian theme on my blog today. I cannot honestly say I have been to the Amalfi Coast in Italy but I can say that I have been NEAR the Amalfi Coast … the Isle of Capri. Close but not close enough!

My travel agent got her wires crossed somehow and we didn’t get there. But then again, who’s complaining? Getting to see Capri and the ‘Blue Grotto‘ (a sea cave that you view in a small canoe) was pretty awesome and one I will never forget.

And to conclude this Italian theme today, I would highly recommend to those who love ‘all things Italian‘ like me, you would profit by reading a book called “Girl by Sea‘ by the Australian author Penelope Green. Penny lived in Italy for some years before coming home to Australia with her Italian man (a chef); they now has a toddler and live in Sydney.

The book is an easy read and it has recipes at the end of each chapter which Penny learned to make from an Italian friend. My claim to fame is that I have been in email contact with Penny after reading the trilogy (see below) and writing to congratulate her. I have always received replies from authors after emailing them to say I had enjoyed their books. Try it some time, it feels great! Here is the spiel:

“A Girl by Sea: a book about life and food on an Italian island. The conclusion to Penelope Green s bestselling trilogy about her life in Italy that began with WHEN IN ROME then SEE NAPLES AND DIE.”

The three books are very different but all highly recommended.  Now folks, my final word on the subject of ‘ALL THINGS ITALIAN today is: