Yesterday we brought our newly crowned deities for rain and general plumbing (James and Alison) to the airport. The weather gave them the appropriate farewell as the heavens opened once again with thunder and lighting and the whole show. It even cut off our phone lines again for a day, but as you can see we are back on-line already. Wednesday, the rain stopped for a day, which was just as well, as we had Patrick coming over from London, who is interested in a plot of land our neighbour Carlo is selling. Himself and his wife are interested in building up something over here similar to ourselves, with producing some of their own food, so maybe in the future we’ll be creating a mini-co-op pooling resources. Self-sufficiency is a lot easier to achieve if there are more people working together on the same idea. You only need one lot of various power tools, if you have animals one can look after them if the other is on holiday and during peak times like harvest or pruning time work can be shared as well as the resulting produce. The combined harvest from 30 or 40 olive trees makes a better lot to take to the olive mill than the product of just a dozen trees, which is not enough to have pressed separately. He’s going back to England tonight to discuss things with his wife and, you never know, we may be seeing you again soon over here, Patrick!
Last night we went to see Riccardo Borghetti as announced at the Teatro Civico in La Spezia. It’s quite a large but incredibly drab venue with a huge stage and a depressingly brown décor. It was pretty much sold out though. Riccardo Borghetti is difficult to put into any particular category of music, the closest I can think of is folk-rock. He sees himself as an ageing rocker. He sings in Spezzini the dialect of La Spezia. As he puts it, the language of rock is English and Italian is not very well suited to rock as they insist on ending each word on a vowel, …a, …o, …i, etc. Which is why when Italians speak English they often add colourful vowel endings to English words. However, Spezzini tends to have words ending in consonants, i.e. vino in Italian becomes vin in Spezzin. The strength of his music is though, that there are many more influences than just rock. Some songs have jazzy inflections, others have some Parisian-like accordion sounds, country banjo, oohmpapa or African bongo rhythms. He lists the following as his influences: Influenze: Fabrizio De Andrè, Leonard Cohen, Leo Ferrè, The Beatles, Georges Brassens, Jaques Brel, Charles Trenet, Joe Cocker, Sting, Bob Dylan, Paolo Conte, Tom Waits, Jethro Tull, Ivano Fossati, Sergio Endrigo, Mark Knopfler, Bruce Springsteen, Alan Stivell, Loreena Mc Kennitt, Paul Simon, Gabriel Garcia Marquez e molti altri ispiratori ispirati. He plays with a full band including himself on acoustic guitar, an electric guitar, bass, drums and percussion, a keyboard, backing singers, plus guest musicians on clarinet, banjo and accordion. His voice is distinctly gravelly. Each song has a story as he likens his songs to your conversation you’d have down at your local bar. These chats maybe about the good old days when the streets were still lit by gas lanterns, the way we all age and go grey, our favourite food or about current world affairs like the crisis in Dafour. On his CD he gives all the lyrics including translations into Italian, which makes it a lot easier to understand for us ignorant foreigners and young Italians who don’t speak their own dialect any more. As an encore he played the really rocky anthem to Spezia football club. A really enjoyable evening out. The whole thing was filmed by local TV, so presumably it’ll find itself onto youtube eventually. You can check him out on this link: http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=335316302
Finally I’d like to let you in on one of my simplest recipes, my quick Zuppa Lombarda. This is not only cheaper and tastier than an instant soup out of a packet, it’s even quicker. Had it today for lunch. This is what you do:
Ingredients for 2:
4 or 5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
8-10 leaves of fresh sage leaves, roughly chopped
1 can of canellini beans
2 slices of old bread
Gently fry the garlic and sage in the oil for a couple of minutes. Add the tin of beans with their liquid. Add another tin-full of water. Bring to the boil and simmer for a minute or 2. Season with pepper. Put a slice of old bread into each soup bowl. Pour over the soup e basta!