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Archive for September 10th, 2009

Last night, the kitchen opened for dinner.  The kitchen at the American Academy is not just any kitchen, but is the heart of the Rome Sustainable Food Project, which was founded a few years ago with the help of Alice Waters, and is directed by the former Chez Panisse chef, Mona Talbott.

We dressed Jack in his nicest shirt, and walked over from our apartment building, where all the fellows with children live, to the courtyard, where a long table was set for dinner. (The picture is dark, but you get the idea.)

table

Before dinner, some of us congregated in the little bar to sip prosecco and meet and greet.  Most of our dinner companions had just arrived yesterday, after over-night flights, and were feeling pretty dazed.  But what a nice reception for them!  Here was the menu:

Spaghetti alla chitarra con pomodorini del orto
Pollo alla romana con  I peperoni
Crostata di susine

Spaghetti with roasted tomatoes from the garden and breadcrumbs—bread chunks, really, toasted up with olive oil; chicken legs braised with red peppers; plum galette.  Mmm… it was nice.  Jack is learning how to eat like an Italian:

J spaghetti

He just needs a little help with technique.

This morning, after dropping Jack off at school, I set out to do some shopping.  First, I had to buy one of the carts that Romans roll behind them when food shopping, because they do so much walking.  I didn’t know what they were called, but I saw one hanging outside a little hole-in-the-wall hardware store.  (Actually all of the shops are so-called holes-in-the-wall.)  They weren’t displayed in the store, so I looked up “wheel” in my phrasebook, and asked in Italian for a “bag with wheels,” while pantomiming the pulling motion.  The shopkeeper understood, and ducked into the back room to pull out a selection of colors.  I picked out a purple one, and pulled it behind me as I set off to find the 2-block-long open air market in the neighborhood.  First, I made a quick stop at the bread bakery I wrote about the other day.  The line was long, as usual, but moved quickly. They also do a big restaurant-delivery business:

bread deliv

bread shop

I bought something I haven’t learned the name of yet.  It was a flat roll the size of a large bagel, with green olives on top, surrounding a tomato slice.  I also bought another bagful of those yummy little biscotti.

At the market stalls, where one could buy everything from socks and bras to organic beef (“biologico”), I bought a potted basil plant for the basket hanging from our kitchen window grating.  I stopped at an “erboristoria” called “L’erba Gatta” (Catnip, I assume), where I found a nice selection of organic grains, sugar, and dried fruit, along with every variety of natural body product.

erboristeria

The place was pretty chi-chi, so I limited myself to raisins and red lentils.

raisins

On the way home, I saw a cute car for sale.

car for sale

No grand showrooms here, just narrow driveways and shop interiors, for displaying their small autos.  Coming from the American South, it’s hard to get over the smallness of the cars here.  Of course, they do just fine, and look fun to drive.  An SUV is a real anomaly here.  Americans should stop widening their streets, and start buying Smart cars.

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