Locally grown kiwi, in season now

I am so deeply into cooking that I don’t even have the time to think about blogging, and I am sure I am not the only one. I am a lucky girl: I feel well enough to cook up my usual storm and I can’t wait.

This year everything will be different from my usual celebrations. We are spending some time far away from Germany and its snow. We are in Reggio Calabria, the tip of the Italian boot, and we are going to spend some time there. Temperatures are up to  15-20 degrees but when the sun is shining, it feels warmer. Healing. I felt as if I spent the last two months (since Palermo) in total darkness. And the smell of the sea is everywhere, the wind and the occasional rain smell of it, and they are warm.

Pane paesano

Possibly the best bread I have ever tasted

The food in season here is completely different from what you’ll find up north, and from what I am used to. I could not find any cream today at the supermarket. But the oranges are at their best, and so are the artichokes. Local ingredients are top quality: they include fresh fish, all sorts of warm climate vegetables, fresh fruit, bread, sheep’s cheese, olives, pork products, almonds. Everything else is difficult to find or extremely expensive: no coriander here, ever.

I am cooking a Christmas Eve dinner and a Christmas lunch, which is already a challenge in itself. I am catering for a vegan-occasionally-vegetarian and for a carnivore, for a fish hater, for a chickpea hater, for a sweet-and-sour dish hater, for an unwilling dieter, for an unwilling eater, for a chilli hater and for a chilli junkie. And that is only four persons. Then there is me, but I tend to eat almost anything with equal enthusiasm.

At my place Christmas menus tend to be quite conservative, and have strong inputs from my grandmother and my mum, both excellent cooks, very traditional my granny, quite innovative my mum.  We usually have some starters, vegetable based, then a risotto or tortellini in brodo; meat follows, usually in the form of some filled poultry, served with potatoes and cardoons on the side. Only the risotto made it through to the prefinals here. Nobody likes what my family eats, or I cannot find the ingredients. We finally agreed on something that should please somehow someone. Not sure of the details yet of how this is going to work.  Not each one will eat each course  – this is why I am cooking plenty.

Anyway, this is the quasi – final menu. I have done some shopping but I have not started yet. Wish me good luck 🙂

Christmas Eve:

Very full tart, by Ottolenghi

Risotto with sea shells and fish

Pipi chini (filled bell peppers – typical from here)

Friarielli (green vegetables, not unlike cime di rama)

Jane Grigson’s Trifle (if i can find the cream somewhere… )

Christmas lunch:

Focaccia with red onions

Cheese, olives, sun dried tomatoes, salame (not cooking required, but yummy)

Ravioli with potatoes and sheep’s cheese (the only filling everybody agreed to eat)

Roasted Sausages with potatoes (I cannot believe I will be eating this at Christmas – so totally untraditional for me!)

Creamy spinach (no cream required though – luckily)

Panettone, torrone (store bought, I just recovered in the end.. And the ones you buy here are better than home made anyway)

I hope we can all celebrate with plenty of food and cooking and joy. And may some sun shine for you as well.


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