Lets be honest, I am not gonna be eating shellfish when I get back home and if I wasn’t here in Lecce I would not be eating all these ‘shit’ eaters at all. Well…that is what they are! And, as you know, while I AM here, I say… f-it! But I gotta admit, it’s been a wee bit challenging for me. But, I’m doing the best I can with embracing the all the many crustacean meals we are making. And we do seem to be making a lot of them. I mean, we are along the Adriatic Sea and all, where the water is clear and blue and beautiful. It surely looks clean but as we all know, looks can be deceiving so while I am here, it’s better not ta ask or investigate if the Sea is, in fact, clean so….F-it!
Today was an easy peassy fish soup that surprisingly didn’t taste too fishy or was too stinky. Which is kinda surprising cause it’s clams, shrimp, mussels, scampi and cod fish in a pot with white wine, tomatoes, garlic, sea salt, red pepper flakes, fresh chopped parsley, basil and mint. It’s very quick to make. The soup takes, at most, about 8 minutes from start to finish. Thank god for the bread today cause I basically dipped it in the soupy part, avoiding the ‘shit’ eaters as much as I could…
Yes, friends, this is almost it. The Awaiting Table is coming to an end. It’s been so lovely but, I gotta tell ya, I am f-ing filled to the brim with food and wine. I need to stop f-ing eating and drinking! Ahhhhh… 1 dinner and 1 lunch to go…I think I can…I think I can…I think I can…okay…twist my arm…. :)
The temperature keeps rising here so we wanted to create the least amount of heat in the kitchen while making dinner. That was the plan anyway. But as you know, plans don’t always go as planned. Somehow I volunteered to make the eggplant over the hot stove. The dish shoulda been called eggplant with essence of Aria from all the sweat I dripped making them. And right next to me, Ted was sweating a big pan of yellow bell peppers and next to him Giuseppe was sautéing a pot of string beans…I mean…come on guys! This was probably the MOST heat we made in the kitchen!
The only thing that wasn’t creating any heat was a classic Leccese dish. It’s basically a bread salad with fresh vegetables. The difference is that they use a local dense hard bread to do it called, Frise Integrali. It’s cooked like a biscotti so it’s very hard and the only way they eat it is by soaking it in water to rehydrate it and then eat/use in recipes when soft. Am I the only one who finds that strange? I mean, why not just keep it soft in the first place? Well, I asked of course, and Silverstro informed me that this particular type of bread has been around for years and originally was eaten by field workers and those who travelled long distances because it doesn’t spoil. So they would pack the hard bread in their bag and when they got hungry travelling along the countryside, or working in the fields, they would forage some wild onions and tomatoes, what ever they could find and soak the hard bread in the fresh stream until soft and managia (that’s eat in Italian)! Well, I’ve tried it both ways and personally, I like it better crunchy. But then again, I’m American, so what do I know… :)
If my life in Italy wasn’t envious enough for you… and me for that matter …I’m gonna break down my days here in Lecce. Around 10am we all meet at the café for our morning espresso drink of our individual choosing. I first started out with an Americano but since it is so freaking hot here I have moved onto the iced espresso with the almond milk I talked about in my previous post. Oh and since I am being so honest with you all, I must admit, my one shot of espresso has moved onto two! It’s a pretty molto bene way to start the day, I gotta say.
So, after we all slowly enjoy each other’s company mixed with the gentle kick from the caffeine, we walk down the road to the famers market and buy all of our fresh produce and ingredients for lunch and dinner. After shopping we walk back to school in the hot summer sun and start our prep to cook lunch. Also, if we are making pasta, we will make 2 different shapes and we’ll enjoy one shape for lunch and the other for dinner.
This is the first time in a long time I have enjoyed eating pasta. It’s fresh and dense and chewy and light and hearty all the same time so less is more, which means you don’t need to eat a mound of it to feel nourished and get satisfied. And since it’s a blend of unprocessed whole grain barley and semolina flours, it gives it tons of fiber, which makes for lovely regularity for this traveler. Sorry…I’m just saying…
Ummmm…before I mention what we prepared, I just want to give a shout out to a very special particular G Monkie who informed me that I am the first and only one blogging on this site who is writing about non-vegan dishes. Thank you for allowing me to share my non-vegan ways!
Last day of cooking school. If I was rocking more sleep (4 hrs last night) these days I would be feeling a bit better but I have not been able to get my beauty sleep this past week. And I am not one to have trouble sleeping soundly. Normally I am out like a light within minutes from my head touching that pillow. But, unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case here. It must be a combination of the haunted B&B I am staying at, the fact that the air conditioning unit in my room is right above my bed so the condensation from the heat f-ing drips on my head when I finally do fall asleep waking my ass back up, the insane amount of mosquito bites all around my right angle, the espressos (yes that is plural!), eating late and drinking like a f-ing alky. Ha! I wouldn’t change a thing though. It’s been wonderfully imbalanced and oh so wonderfully perfect. It’s important to shake things up a bit.
And so today we, of course, are ending this glorious week with a….FISH LUNCH! Oh yeah. Bring back those ‘shit’ eaters. I’m ready…Huh.
We go to the fish market and get the fish. Sticky. Fish markets are very very very stinky! But Silverstro reassures me that the fish were just caught and killed within the hour. ‘Great’, I say with a smile, ‘I’m gonna wait outside’.
If ever you have dreamed, as I have, about doing what I am doing, I could not recommend this school enough. I have begun my delightfully authentic incredibly charming cooking school here in Lecce, which is named with utter perfection, The Awaiting Table.
First you must, read all about them on their website awaitingtable.com and then, if the school moves you as much as it did me, get your ass on a plane and come here. It’s time. If not now, when. This has been my motto as of late and that is exactly why I am here. Happy and beautifully blissed out in Italia!
Silverstro, the charming creator and chef and wine extraordinaire, welcomed me with the open arms of an old friend I haven’t seen in years because he decided to move to Italy. He’s passionate and fun and loves, not only a lot of amazing food and incredible wine, but also his authentic appreciation for the Italian culture is contagious and I find myself feeling like a local, integrated into this lovely town of Lecce. Continue Reading / See Additional Photos