Breakfast in Italy
Today I was chatting with my good friend & artist extraordinaire, Eileen Hahn, about jam. She has “rediscovered” strawberry after having been opting mostly for raspberry. Thinking of raspberry, or blackberry jam too, always reminds me of being in Italy as a child.
It was July, 1973 in a little town outside of Fiumara, Calabria where my family is from. One phone in town. Chickens clucking around freely. Fig trees growing across the street. Although my grandparents lived next door to us, they spent months at a time at their home in Italy. It was a pink house. I’d arrived with my godparents, cousins, & assorted others for a month’s visit on July 4th. Being a really little kid and having not traveled abroad before, it didn’t occur to me that they wouldn’t be celebrating the day with fireworks – it was a blow instead of a burst! Ha!
Our formerly pink house in Italy
So, it’s breakfast-time. They had 3-D triangular containers of milk that tasted unlike the milk we were used to… I want to say it was… the word just passed my mind in a whisper… not bitter or sharp… sour – a little sour but it wasn’t. I was also allowed to have a drop of coffee as long as there was mostly milk in it.
The bread was biscotti, which we pronounced “biscourt” – hard pieces of bread. I would think it was soft or “going stale” bread my grandmother toasted to hard chunks… where the center disintegrated on a bite. We added a smear of butter and fresh raspberry or blackberry jam. It was good… really good. And your jaw got quite a workout – crunch crunch crunching.
Sometimes I recreate it but it’ll never be the same as being in that kitchen in that place at that time in the world.
Funny how food memories are so strong and vivid. What are your earliest memories of something simple and delicious?