|Basket with wheat fronds, hanging near the garden.|
I'm happy to report that I arrived safely in Napoli yesterday.
My brain and my biological clock have no idea what day it is, or what time, but other than that, things are pretty good.
There are lots of things that make me happy to be in Italy, and in Giugliano, specifically. The first, of course, is the family.
Best to keep my pleasures simple when I'm jet lagged, so here, in no particular order, are a few of my favorite things. And this is just Day 1:
I've had pomegranates before. But never one fresh from the tree, and bigger than a softball. Eating this one has been a two-day project. Would have been three or four days if Diego hadn't eaten half. My father-in-law has one of the greenest thumbs in Italy, I think. The man can grow anything. . . except the next item on my list.
Espresso, as often as you want it (and even when you really shouldn't), any time of the day, made in the little machinetta on the stove at home, not by a contemptuous barista in flannel, who looks like he just stepped out of a 19th century agricultural fair or Ken Burns' "The Civil War" documentary.
Müller yogurt. That's right. I'm plugging their yogurt without them asking—they don't have to. Every time I come to Italy I look forward to it.They've only just started selling the brand in the United States, but it's awful there. They make flavors that tell us they think we're little children who need sugary, candy-coated everything. Here I can get hazelnut, lemon, strawberry lemon, apricot and others. It's goooood stuff, People.
Then there's fresh Buffalo Mozzarella. I don't have a photo of it. That's because I couldn't stop myself from eating it long enough to take a photo. Impulse control, People. Never underestimate its value.
Persimmons, right off of the tree. That's courtesy of my in-laws again. If ever I should find myself in a post-apocalyptic hellscape (no, New Jersey doesn't count, but thanks for asking), living a real-life version of Survivor, I want these folks on my team. They know how to grow things, butcher things, cook things, fix things, and build things. They also have useful friends (see below).
Mysterious Wine "from-a-friend". I don't know who these friends are, and the in-laws aren't talking. But there it is, magically appearing on the table at every meal. How can I refuse, People? I ask you . . .
|There's lettuce in the garden right now, next to orange and fig trees.|
|Pomegranates still on the tree. Yellowish skin, ruby red seeds inside.|
|Oranges will be ready in January.|
The Garden, and everything that Diego and Luisa grow in it. Here's a not-nearly-complete list (though, they aren't all growing at the same time of year, of course): Pomegranates, persimmons, oranges, lemons, grapefruit, plums, olives, grapes, peaches, nectarines, figs, almonds and hazelnuts. That's just the trees. There's a whole lot more; herbs, veggies, flowers, that they grow annually, as well as palms and succulents. Oh, and chickens. They've got those, too. From within their little paradise, you can easily forget that just outside its walls are the Neapolitan drivers, just waiting to induce Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in you. Best to just stay here. You have pretty much everything you need, anyway.
|Octopi at outdoor market, Villarica, Italy.|
|Fish monger's stall.|
|Nuts and seeds for sale.|
The Outdoor Market. Sure, these exist all over the world. But there's something about an Italian market, and one full of Neapolitan hawkers that feels otherworldly. I love the colors, textures, sounds and smells.
Not bad for a first day, eh? Just getting warmed up. And as always, wish you all were here. . . but the fact that you're not means there's more buffalo mozzarella for me. I'm consoled by this fact. So sue me.