Perhaps it was tempting fate with my last newsletter when I confidently looked forward to a warm, sunny Seville. We arrived to a cold, blustery day and it rained on and off most days. My lovingly-packed linen dresses hung like wall flowers in the hotel wardrobe and I had to wear the one warm woolen outfit I had worn for the flight from Rome every day.
Without one of Amanda and Julie’s woolen wraps I would have been miserable. As it was we still had a lovely time and drank enough manzanilla and Rioja to keep the cold at bay. The Seville Fiera was in full swing and the flouncy, flamenco-dressed lovelies and brooding, dashing caballeros did not allow a little rain to dampen their ardour or amour prope. It could be said to be one of those occasions “when it is better to travel hopefully than to arrive” but that is not really true. It was a good trip and we enjoyed ourselves but a little more sun would have gilded the experience.
Marrakesh was sunny and hot and the linen dresses finally made their entrance, a little crumpled but happily forgiven by someone who had been wearing wool for a whole week. We relished three superb Moroccan dinners, basked in warm nostalgia on the terrace of the Café de la Poste and enjoyed a good Souk cooking lesson. Next year I will pair Marrakesh with Fez and Rabat and bask in the reliable winter warmth. It will take time for me to forgive Spain.
While I was in Seville Rome was enjoying some lovely weather but I brought the rain home with me. It should have stayed ‘on the plain’ in Spain ! However today is warm and sunny, and daily conversation can return to food and football. Romans were beginning to sound British as every chance meeting started with a weather lament.
The Washington Post had a great article on Procrastination which describes my state of mind since I came home :
“Have you ever sat down to complete an important task — and then suddenly discovered you were up loading the dishwasher or engrossed in the Wikipedia entry about Chernobyl? Or perhaps you suddenly realize that the dog needs to be fed, emails need to be answered, your ceiling fan needs dusting — or maybe you should go ahead and have lunch, even though it’s only 11 a.m.?
Next thing you know, it’s the end of the day and your important task remains unfinished.”
My blogs are non-existent, my website needs updates and the days pass, but today I have jump-started my days. I am working on my web pages and planning next year’s trips. In fact the great distraction has been India. I have booked up Goa for February but I am moving on to Rajasthan to set up the long-promised companion trip to the North. I will be giving full details soon because the interesting heritage hotels needed to be reserved over a year in advance. Let me know if you would be interested. It will be a one-off trip.
I will be writing a detailed list of activities for 2017 and mailing them off later in the month, and I will be running some three-day Roman classes after the summer.
Recipe for the long-awaited Roman summer
Seafood salad (Insalata di mare)
Many years ago I was sitting on a shady terrace, surrounded by lemon trees, looking across the still magical bay of Naples toward Vesuvius, with a glass of chilled Greco di Tufo wine in my hand, enjoying a moment of almost pagan happiness. When I was served “insalata di mare,” which was new to me, it seemed infinitely familiar, and even now the sharp, simple taste conjures up instant hedonism. It is important to use very good olive oil, and it can be made with only 2 or 3 varieties of shellfish if any ingredient is difficult to find.
1/4 lb unshelled mussels, scrubbed and rinsed
1 lb unshelled clams
1 lb small calamari
1 lb unshelled shrimp
2 garlic cloves
1 T fresh rocket (arugula), chopped
1/4 cup good extra virgin olive oil
2 T fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper
Put a little oil and 1 crushed garlic clove in a heavy pan. Heat gently and add the mussels and clams and a cup of water. Cover and cook briskly until the shellfish have opened. Discard any that fail to open, shell and place in a bowl. Filter the cooking liquid. Heat the cooking liquid and cook the shrimp for a few minutes. Shell and add to the other shellfish. Heat up the liquid again, adding more water if necessary, and cook the calamari, cut into thin rings and small pieces of tentacle. Mix the calamari with the other shellfish and dress with a finely-chopped garlic clove, rocket, lemon juice and oil. Season to taste. This salad should be served at room temperature and prepared about 3 hours in advance so that the flavors have time to blend. If possible do not store in the refrigerator.