Ok, so if you don´t live in Europe and/or you are not a football fan you are probably not desperately interested in Euro 2012, the European Football Tournament that reached the first of the semi final stages tonight.
But, indulge me, and feel my pain. Spain won tonight (on penalties, which is not really a proper win in my book, but there you go) and are through to the final. Yes, “we´re” through to the final!!!
And in celebration, Alfi wholeheartedly joined in the celebrations. See that look of joy on his face? Ok, it´s submission knowing that he´ll get a biscuit.
The pain comes from the Italy-Germany match tomorrow night. I have a Spanish Big Man and an Italian Father and Passport. What happens if/when Italy win and it´s an Italy Spain final on Sunday? Feel my pain and tell me…do I wear my Spain shirt or my Italy shirt?!
When I was a child, summer holidays were extra special. We joined the great exodus of Italians “going home” for August. My father, like many Italians, started his working life in London as a waiter. Sometimes the restaurant he worked in, usually Italian, shut for the month to allow staff to be with their families. Other times, it didn´t, which often meant a return from holiday at the start of September with no job for my father. I´ve only recently thought about this and how difficult and precarious things must have been for the family financially at times and the sacrifices they made for us children.
My family, however, thought it was important for my brother and I to be in Italy with our many cousins and aunties and uncles, spending time being free on the beach, eating meals late at night, talking Italian and sharing that special love that comes from a huge extended family. I thank them for it, I´m sure much of what I experienced in those summer holidays helped make me the person I am today.
We often drove to Italy as putting the car on the overnight train from Calais to Milan was expensive. Then we faced a further day or two of journey to the very south, the “toe of the boot”, to Calabria. It was an epic journey, but it was made fun with plenty of food, books to read, songs to sing in the car (no DVDs or Playstations then!) and stops along the way to visit more family and friends.
We always stopped in Roma, where my father had spent a portion of his youth and visited Zia Sara and Zio Angelo. Roma has some wonderful food markets and I have strong memories of someone going out in the morning to buy focaccia for breakfast – that typical flat white bread drizzled with olive oil, coarse salt and sometimes rosemary. I don´t know if it was a Roman thing, or a family thing, but if we were lucky we also got a bag of juicy figs to go with it. An extra sprinkle of salt, a little drizzle of olive oil and it was heaven on a piece of bread. Sweet, salty and peppery all at the same time.
Now I try to recreate it with griddled bread, a sprinkle of coarse sea salt and a drizzle of our very own olive oil. It´s not quite the same, but the memories make it all the sweeter.
So in 2016 I turned 50. I was in Italy for my 21st, 30th and 40th. To keep this birthday tradition going I always knew I'd be in Italy for my 50! This blog starts with my 5 week adventure in Puglia but my love affair with Italy continues.....