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eG Foodblog: hathor - Carpe Diem


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You say: “Permesso?”

I say: “Certo!”


In my area, it’s polite to ask if you may enter someone’s house, by asking, “Permesso?” For some reason, it’s a lovely, endearing thing to hear, and even children will ask before entering.

I’m inviting you now, to join me in my house in Italy, in the region of Umbria, in the province of Perugia, in the town of Montone, on via Garibaldi.

Uhhmmm, it’s a small town (about 800 people, just to give you some perspective on small), you may not find it on a map, but we do have a town website!


We live in Montone about six months out of the year, and the rest of the time we spend in New York City and thereabouts. But, this week we are in Umbria. Our neck of the woods is fairly rural, the terrain is steep and hilly. The primary industry is agriculture; right now the feed corn and tobacco are being harvested. Sheep farms are abundant, which means I have access to excellent cheeses. I’m hoping to introduce you to some of the people that produce the food we eat. “Eating local” isn’t a politically correct choice here; it’s just the way it is.


Why “Carpe Diem”? Yes, it does say Carpe Diem, tattooed on my son’s leg. About 3 years ago, my husband and I decided to seize the moment. We closed up our business in New York and decided we wanted to spend more time in our house in Italy. We bought the house in 2001 and I’m going to guess you have the same question that everyone else asks us, “How did you find this place?” As a family, we have traveled a lot, and in his junior year in high school, our son Curtis took one of those class trips to Italy. He had been to Italy a few times before this, but this time he came home, and said, “You’ve have got to go to Assisi. I could live there.” It was an unusually passionate response from him, which may have been influenced by the fact that he ate exceptionally good truffles while he was there. By now we knew we wanted a house in Italy, so we schedule an appointment with a realtor and we looked at everything from total ruins to finished villas with grapevines and tractors. The last place we looked at was described as a townhouse in a medieval village. We were goners before we even entered the front port of the town. Why live in the countryside where we don’t speak the language, we don’t know anyone, when we can live in town. Hey, we’ve lived in NYC for 150 years, we are city folk. It was a great move, I cannot begin to tell you how warm, inviting and welcoming the townspeople are, not to mention a tiny bit nutty. I hope you get to know some of my neighbors this week.

Last spring, I attended the Ital.cook school in Jesi. It’s run by Slow Food and teaches students about regional Italian cooking. I’m in my early 50’s, and I lived for 10 weeks in a dorm with a bunch of wacky, wonderful ragazzi (young people) and had the time of my life. These days, I write a little, and teach a little and cook a lot of Italian food. My husband is involved in the “Tower Project”: Torre de Moravola. We are helping our friends restore a medieval watchtower that will eventually become a full service rentable villa or small hotel. It is a fantastic place!! We are up to the point we need to do some creative financing to finish the project, but hey, we knew there would be bumps in the road. If all goes well, I’ll be the chef at the tower.

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Good luck hathor! Looking forward to reading a blog, as opposed to writing one this week!


John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2


I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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That’s enough background for now! What’s in my fridge??? Just about nothing!! Take a look.


Couple bottles of water, one wine bottle, a jar of ricotta forte (!!), Walker’s Jerk sauce that I brought from NY, by far my favorite Jerk seasoning, and some old cheeses. We just came back late last night from a fantastic vacation with my husband’s brother and sister: few days in Rome, then on to Pompei, then a week in Puglia in the Salento area, that’s down at the very tip of the heel. We had a blast! But, I have no food in the house. Poor me. See these bowls?? They are usually full of fruit and vegetables. Depressing sight. I usually get most of my fresh produce at the market in Umbertide on Wednesday mornings. I’ll pick up a few things today at the Coop (its like a Shop Rite, but run by the Communist party…or so I’m told) to hold me over, but we’re all going have to wait until Wes. to really stock up. Back to the fridge, yes, it is a dorm size fridge. Yes, that is tape all over the itty bitty freezer part. The door broke and the only way I can keep the fridge from frosting over is by taping that door shut. I have a secret though, I have another refrigerator in the garage….think of it as long term parking. It’s a full size fridge, and it has a freezer, where I can make….ICE!! Italians, and Europeans in general don’t go in for a lot of ice. My husband likes ice, so last summer we bought a full fridge and for his birthday, I made him lots and lots of ice. Hey! It took days! OK! Sometimes it’s the simple things that we treasure most.


Today was breakfast at home. French style café au lait made in the moka, and foamy milk made with the chuga-chuga. This is a simple device: container that holds milk and can be heated, a screen on a stem. Milk heats up, you plunge the screen up and down a few times, voila, no fuss, no muss and you have a great cappuccino. Brilliant! I had some cornflakes and raisins, while thinking wistfully of Pontormo and peaches. Jeff had some biscotti and then we had to run to Perugia to return the rental car.


Lunch was a quicky: cherry tomatoes, anchovies, chili peppers, capers, black olives, onion, garlic over some pasta. Green salad, glass of Verdicchio and we are good to go.

See you around dinner time, ok? :biggrin:

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Saluti!!!! Judith, as you know full well, I am sooooo happy to see you launch this blog! Since Assisi is one of my favorite places on earth, the story of your son's response to his first visit made me grin.

I actually thought that jar on the top shelf of your fridge was yogurt. One thing I miss here in the fall is the way pear yogurt is sold in sweet little round jars. Never heard the word "chuga-chuga" before. In solidarity, I'm going to dust off my moka and use it; it's now serving as decoration on a shelf somewhere.

I am very much looking forward to your trips to markets, seeing your home, mist rising up the hillside early in the morning and all that stuff that makes you want to roll your eyes when it's in yet another corny cliche-ridden movie about the way the Priggish and Repressed Anglos become alive in Italia--but makes you giddy and content when you are smack dab in the middle of it all.

ETA: The ONLY time I eat fiocchi di mais is in Italy! Nowadays, they're "biologique" of course.

Translation: organic

Edited by Pontormo (log)

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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chuga-chuga is not a real word. yet. But everyone who comes to house winds up going to the store to get a chuga-chuga. Spread the word. I have no idea what they are really called. :blink:

Thanks for all the encouragement. I'm currently battling with the image upload, but I'll be back!

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Quanto bello!

Really looking forward to a vicarious visit to Italy. Can we please have at least one food-porn shot of a gelato counter please :rolleyes:

Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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Oh, so many questions and comments!

I know well the allure of being a city person with a remote destination. In my case, it is a spring/summer/fall accessible cabin, and in my case, groceries are a good 30-mile round trip, but never-the-less...

I'm under the impression that language may be a difficulty? Please elaborate!

And, do tell how your life when you return to NYC is different, please.

And, Curtis. What's he doing these days?

Finally, I'm hoping for a good report of your farmer's market, and what's available.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Quanto bello!

Really looking forward to a vicarious visit to Italy. Can we please have at least one food-porn shot of a gelato counter please :rolleyes:

Oh, oh, me TOO!

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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Great opening shot! Though if the town's as dense as it looks in the opening shot and has only 800 residents, it can't be too big around--what? the main street is 2 blocks long, maybe?

What are the principal foodstuffs grown in your part of Umbria?

And do you belong to Slow Food?

[...] I’ll pick up a few things today at the Coop (its like a Shop Rite, but run by the Communist party…or so I’m told)[...]

With a name like that ("coop"=shortened form of "co-operative"), I'm not at all surprised. Is it a membership organization? Are members required to contribute labor if it is, and are there any benefits to joining (e.g., patronage rebate or lower prices)?

The Italian Communists are still around? What do they advocate these days?

Looking forward to seeing lots of lovely scenery and equally lovely food.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Lunch was a quicky: cherry tomatoes, anchovies, chili peppers, capers, black olives, onion, garlic over some pasta. Green salad, glass of Verdicchio and we are good to go.

See you around dinner time, ok?  :biggrin:

Show us where you get your pasta and what your anchovies ( :wub::wub: ) look like where you get them!

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Buon giorno, hathor! I could continue in Italian but won't, out of respect for the others. I'm very happy to see you doing an Italian blog as a sort of sequel to the New York blog you did some time ago.

My father has a very old friend who lives most of the time in the countryside near Umbertide but retains an apartment in Rome, and when I was studying at the Academia Chigiana in Siena, I spent a long weekend visiting friends who spend every summer living in an old farmhouse in the Gubbese countryside and painting landscapes. Their two sons are fully bilingual.

The cities I've visited in Umbria are Gubbio, Perugia, and Orvieto, and also spent 10 days at a flute master class in Spoleto. (I have yet to make it to Assisi.) I like those Umbrese dishes with mushrooms and black truffles, and I also like the acqua minerale from Nocera Umbra.

Michael aka "Pan"


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