—First night in Naples, a margherita pizza. This is the simplest of things–only dough and tomato sauce, garlic and basil, but I swear to you I have never tasted tomatoes before that, as if all the days of sunlight and a few sea-laden winds and some nights of rising moons were all packed into crushed red sauce. I am determined to grow tomatoes that taste like that. It didn’t hurt to eat it overlooking the Bay of Naples, buzzing with jet lag, with the moon rising over Mt. Vesuvius and tourists from the cruise ships marching down the promenade in their capri pants and straw hats and motorcycles by the thousands roaring by.
(Photo: Mt Vesuvius and that show-off moon)
The breakfast at our hotel in Naples, served on a patio four stories above the street. Jam croissants, coffee with milk ("What is milk in Italian?" I asked CR fuzzily. Oh, yeah…latte. :)), yogurt and rolls and
cheese and butter and a spread of fruits.
–A fruit at the cocktail party in Matera. I have no idea what it was, though someone said maybe persimmon. It was about the size of a Roma Tomato, and it even looked a bit like a skinned tomato, with that red, grainy sort of flesh and lots of little seeds. The color was a little more purple than most tomatoes, however, and the fruit itself was lightly sweet and enormously refreshing. Any guesses?
–The breakfasts every morning in Matera, at the Hotel Sant’Angelo, served in the back of the long cave of reception, cool and mysterious and very quiet, lit with lamps and the bold sunlight pouring in through the front door. Pear juice and more jam croissants, sun-dried tomatoes on little toasts, strong cheese in cubes and fresh cafe, served however you liked–con latte, cappuccino, Americano. CR drank tea with milk. I drank the latte, and the girl who served us was part of the great pleasure. A little dynamo with beautiful eyes and a very pleasant way of speaking English.
–A happy hour feast on the piazza in Matera. Dry-cured olives, soft red wine, almonds in a crisp, baked dough, and two beautiful creatures playing the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet.
–Roast rabbit, a swordfish steak, a spinach orchiette with butter that so delicious it made me wish to lick the plate.
–Finally, a Sunday dinner served by Neal’s mum. Mainly the banofee pudding. I’m still dreaming of it.
Oh, and happy news: after all that pasta and dessert and wine and croissants for breakfast every morning and gelato (oh, gelato! Melon. Peach. Peach and melon), I was terrified to step on the scale, but walking 5000 miles a day must do the trick because I only gained a couple of ounces. Seriously? I can live with that.
Do you have a favorite holiday meal memory?