I mentioned before that we try to eat in more than out. I know, in a land of endlessly delicious restaurants, why cook?? Well, for one thing, not every restaurant is that great. Better than Applebee’s any day, but I’m just saying that one can easily pay too much for a mediocre (by Italian standards) meal. There are a few more places we aim to try before we leave in a week and some change (sob), but still, we gots to be diligent about saving the cash euros.
Which brings us to the humble cucina here in our apartment. With our varied grocery success, you may be wondering what we eat on a daily basis. If not, you should stop reading now because you’ll find yourself snoozing by the end.
I think I mentioned our chicken-roasting disaster in the first post, but to be fair to us, the oven here (as well as the wash machine and microwave and any other appliance!) has absolutely zer0 non-pictorial/numeric button labels. Oh, the quadruple squiggly line?! That must mean…super, super, hot?? The snowflake? Let’s just freeze our food while we’re here in the oven, hmm?
We were able to set the oven temp, but that’s where our know-how stopped. Suffice it to say, our whole chicken was done in under 45 minutes. They usually take 1-3 hours to roast… anyways. We noticed at around 25 minutes that there was a pretty smoky smell coming from the oven area, and opened the door to a blast of hot smoke and quickly blistering (read: burning!) chicken skin. It was a close call, but we did save most of Mr. Chicken. We have not used the oven since.
Without an oven that is intelligible, we are left with the gas-range stovetop. Gas is supposed to be the best to cook with; very controllable heat and energy-efficient and all that. We love ours at home, but this one… this one is not that one. It has two heat settings: flambé your face, and oops-dangit-it’s-out-again. What does “range” without the n spell? Rage, that’s what. However, we have patiently, lovingly coaxed the little sucker into cooking our food, mostly fairly well.
We have been eating a whole lot of carbs since being here. Mainly because meat is not easy to come by, or if it is, we haven’t discovered how yet. A quarter to half pound of chicken breast is also very expensive, and the red meat is just way too much to wrap our minds around. So generally I buy one- two packages of about 2 chicken breasts per week, and a package or two of sausage. The sausage here is delicious!! One other nights, we have some type of pasta or rice-based dish and a fresh veggie on the side. On our first day here, I had the audacity to make my own tomato sauce with a can of tomatoes, but quickly deferred to the canned variety because a) I don’t have a blender or ricer, so there’s no quick way to smooth the sauce and b) they make great canned sauce– just tomatoes and salt. Spice it up as you will. Tom is extremely forgiving about our weird and unusual meals, and also my frantic requests for him to run downstairs and buy a jar of sauce, gnocchi, and wine so we can call it a meal.
That being said, we have made and eaten some relatively tasty things here.
This here was a spur of the moment creation I came up with one night when I
was desperate realized dinner was overdue and I only had thought of a side dish. I browned our sweet Italian pork sausage, and then cut it up and tossed it with pasta, a bit of the cooking water, a lot of Parmesan and a delicious spice blend I bought at Campo, and stirred it all up. Fresh mozza on the top, and it was delicious. Plus a healthy dosage of greens and tomatoes drenched in olive oil and balsamic. Tom’s also whipped up a mean aglio olio pasta, and there have been a few tasty risottos. Also, we’re considering leaving all of Lucy’s clothing here and packing her suitcase full of gnocchette… it is so.much.better here!!
And all of this senza the proper cooking utensils! We have exactly one knife for prep work, and it’s a 10 inch serrated number; not so good for chopping or peeling. There are no measuring anythings, so forget recipes. There are no tongs or spatulas, BUT there is a funnel and juicer. Useful, eh? It has been an adventure getting to know la cucina here, and coaxing our little meals out of it. I’ll probably only miss it a teensy bit when we come home.
And just for fun, here’s our little Floridian retiree!