As I write this post, I am sitting on my friends bed in her tile floored bedroom complete with chandelier and balcony, eating 4 types of artisanal gelato out of a styrofoam egg listening to Simon and Garfinkel. Sounds idyllic, no? Well, it is and isn’t. The good news, I am done my placement at the restaurant. I was strong, I persevered, I can hold my head high and say I worked double shifts, six days a week in an Italian kitchen. I am grateful to be able to look back fondly on the experience already. The downside to being in Italy still is that I am not home and sometimes I painfully wish to be transported to my couch, with my pug and my husband. I will be home in five weeks, and until then, I will be in Torino, Florence, Venice, Rome, Bologna and a myriad of day trips.
The bedroom of my friend, where I find myself currently, is in the Liguria region of Italy, in a city called Savona. Liguria stretches 350 kilometers along the Italian Riviera. The Ligurian Sea and beaches, Appenine mountains and olive groves dominate this region. Ligurian olive oil will forever be my favourite.
One of the typical traditional dishes in Liguria and Savona is Farinata. My friend and I went to the Farinata shop in a narrow cobblestone alley promptly at 6pm, when the shop opens for the evening. We were met by 15 other people who also wanted farinata. The shop smelled like a wood burning oven, with neat piles of wood ready to be added to the fire all along the walls, it was warm and comforting. I felt like I was about to witness something special. A man stirred the farinata batter, made from white or corn flour, water, olive oil and salt, and poured it into huge farinata pans that were well oiled from decades of use. He put three farinata pans in the oven and waited. We could see them bubbling and cooking, salivating for every pain staking minute. There are no signs explaining costs. I asked my friend how much it was, and she said you simply tell them how many people you are feeding and they cut the farinata and charge 1 Euro per person. Once the farinata comes out of the oven, an older lady cuts rustic pieces of farinata with a sort of primitive pizza cutter, wraps it in wax paper and newspaper and sends you out into the cold streets with your steaming farinata. It took us 30 minutes to get to the front of the line, good food comes to those who wait. It reminded me of crispy na’an and was hot, doughy and delicious. I felt like I was tasting something culinarily important and historic. A good, warm, doughy evening.