Category Archives: Life

Easter in Positano…

Easter is at the doors and Positano is filled with frantic activity, painters rushing around with overflowing buckets of color touching up weather beaten façades, workmen being unceremoniously ushered out of hotels,  while patient cleaning women are left to deal with the dust.  All of this, as the first guest arrive searching for some reprieve from a dull gray winter…

Each year the same pattern repeats itself: the season ends, long discussion begin, architects are summoned, workmen consulted and large bowls of pasta consumed, while days follow one and other.

Finally Christmas arrives and with it a new festive season spent joyfully embracing family and mouth watering recipes such as “Scorfano all’acqua pazza”, “Spagetti alle vongole veraci” and others cooked to perfection.  All while the sea infuriates, the steps of the village turn into streams of endless water and sad fish scramble to make themselves scarce, knowing their end should they fall into one of the fishing nets waiting to usher them to eternity.

Oh bliss, oh joy, a holiday will soon follow in  far away destinations, where the inhabitants of Positano can at last sit in cafés enjoying a simple espresso, without the worries of home.  Only then will the remodeling work finally start and with it a frantic rush against time, the season is at hand and each and every Positanese swears that the following year the work will start the day the season ends.

LINGUINE ALLE VONGOLE VERACI

Ingredients:

  • 1,2kg/2 1/2lb fresh clams in their shells
  • 600g/22oz spaghetti
  • 125ml/1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • a pinch of ground chili pepper
  • 4 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

Scrub the clams well under cold running water. Place them in a large bowl of salted water for two hours. Rinse well, discarding any that are broken or dead.

Bring a large pan of water to the boil for the pasta.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the garlic and chili pepper and cook until the garlic is golden then discard.

Add the clams to the pan. Cover for 2-3 minutes. As soon as the clams open, lift them out using a slotted spoon. When all the clams have opened (discard any that do not), strain the liquid in the pan through a layer of cheese cloth or paper towels and reserve.

Return the clams and the strained liquid to the frying pan. Add the parsley and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Meanwhile add salt and the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente.

Drain the spaghetti. Tip in into the frying pan with the sauce and stir well over moderate heat for 2-3 minutes more. Taste for seasoning. Serve at once without cheese.


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A brief encounter

Dogs were always a part of my youth having a mother that was only at ease when a dog was faithfully by her side, Names such as Pacho, Gigi and Boris come to mind as do joyful moments shared with my mother as she caressed a succession of wire haired Dachshunds one more neurotic than the next.

And so yesterday as I walked up my favorite stairway built at the turn of the century joining the Village of Nocelle to Positano, I noticed a golden haired puppy walking by my side.  As each of the 1860 steps followed each other and my breathing became more and more strained I felt my young companion was enjoying his stroll just as much as I was.  He seemed engrossed in the vegetation on either side of the stairway, bushes of rosemary that filled the air with an aroma of summer, geraniums so strong and colorful all framed in an endless sea of wild flowers timidly appearing after a long winter spent in hiding.

At times my young friend would wonder far and wide letting his curiosity get the best of him only to return eagerly to share his discoveries with me.  I could feel we were enjoying each other’s company just as I would enjoy that of a friend.

Half way up the mountain the stairway finally ends in Nocelle’s little square shaded by a giant tree, and offering a mesmerizing view of the sky cascading into the sea gently embraced on one side by a long windy coastline.  I always stop to drink at a little fountain while admiring the view, and as I did so yesterday I realized my young friend was looking at me and beckoning as he could not reach the water… without a thought I cupped my hands and started to give him some.   At That moment it was not the view, nor my pounding heart that held my attention but my young friend drinking out of my hands… I felt a bond, a closeness and understood why my mother always had a dog by her side.

I slowly walked down the steps with the hope of being followed once again by my friend however he decided more important matters were at hand to be dealt with in Nocelle. How could I blame him, after all the view is the most beautiful one in the world!.

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Sports day at the Dragon

I have spent the last two days with the intense desire to write on my day spent in Oxford…It all started rather well as we were able to find the right parking place… sounds funny yet life is made up of little insignificant details… Next the weather was on our side, neither cold nor hot a rare event in England…

So starts a day a day dedicated to watching the prodigies of our children…what is so impressive is the total commitment seen on the faces of those children… it is as if the whole world depended on the outcome of their competition. Such seriousness such dedication I can only say it is totally charming and inspiring.

The tow rope was a wonder of red faces, screaming, pulling, tugging, and at the end incredible cheering.. The world seems for a moment to have found a perfect equilibrium where teachers students and parents are joined together forgetting the crazy event taking place around them… Just two days  before bombs, horror, suffering and incredible pain. Yet there is redemption and children are our redemption making life worth living giving a meaning to all the hardships one has to overcome.

Back to the track to the hope and the glory… Hurdles was amusing although very fast and short… Not enough time to enjoy the effort…

Finally we arrive at the High Jump which changed everything… It took place in a secluded part of the grounds allowing for greater concentration both for the participants and for the spectators. 

So the jumps begin with a succession of children showing that it really does matter, that it is important to compete regardless of ability, race or sex, this in itself is an inspiration.  As I watch those faces approach the jump I get a little insight into their world.  Brave yet shy, courageous, determined, it is almost frightening to have such an insight into somebody else through a jump.

The first rounds come and go… one jump succeeds the next and the next until you start realizing that some of the faces you liked so much are no longer jumping… the names run away faster that light yet a few remain… one for example “Fish” a young boy with a determination and a desire to succeed that was an inspiration.

We are now down to the last three competitors and the students, parents and teachers begin to feel that something in the air is different.. Silence descends and slowly creeps into the crowd making them realize the importance of the moment…

The first boy reaches the bar with hope yet deep down he knows that he has reached his limit, that overcoming this one more obstacle is no longer an option…

The second boy has the bearing of a champion, he is a strong jumper and each pore in his body exudes confidence.  The third boy is the underdog… he has confidence strength and a lightness of bearing that is inspiring. 

As they approach the jump the boys seem to be looking for some sort of divine inspiration that will help them help them overcome this one more obstacle… By some miracle inspiration is found and the bar keeps on going up and up.  The crowd is in awe and the boys feel the tension.  After each jump the walk back to the starting position is slow, calm and collected.  Before the next jump a few seconds are taken to stretch.  Is it theatre or is real… we will never know, what is obvious is that this is a great competition and the boys are living up to our expectations.

The run up to the final jump is carried out with a hopeful and joyous face waiting to soar towards glory towards victory towards redemption for us all.

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