Thursday 22 November 2007

And a Pisan Day......

Raining. It often does here - which begs the question why all those Inglesi consumptives arrived in the nineteenth century, in search of warm dry air for their damaged lungs. One of the standard local sights is the senegalese street vendors, who manage somehow - and instantaneously - to switch their stock-in-trade from CDs and cigarette lighters to all kinds of umbrellas at the first sign of a raindrop. Impressive. And because it's such a common occurrence, the Pisani don't let it put them off their stride one bit, but just carry on as normal, except with the protection of large umbrellas. Borgo Stretto and the marketplace in Via Cavalca are transformed into a version of that impressionist painting Les Parapluies - Renoir, I think - with a multitude of the things thronging the streets, all in bright colours and every kind of stripe and tartan and pattern you could imagine.

To Maurizio, for a Pork Loin. I stood and watched as he expertly boned and rolled it - something that almost never happens in a butchers in London, where you rarely get to see work like that actually being done, and in fact the butchers on show are really only acting as shop assistants. His speed and efficiency is almost balletic, there is no wastage whatsoever in the process, and the delicacy with which he strings the boned loin makes me embarrassed to think of the ham-fisted way I tie up similar cuts of meat at home, when I've had to open them up to stuff them!

Then to Antonella for Radicchio and Apples. She talks me into the mutant Radicchio - the one which has chaotic, primeval-looking tendrils rather than the more normal round or long variety - on the basis that it has a much more assertive bitter-sweet flavour than the others. She's right - but they also cost a lot more, so the choice isn't as obvious as you'd think.

And finally to Claudia, where I'm briefly tempted from my planned purchase of Casarecci by the mountain of deep yellow Pappardelle she's serving to the signora two ahead of me in the queue, and I consider the option of Pappardelle with some of her wonderful ragu, the sight of a bowl of which in the vitrina has my mouth watering. I have plenty of time to ponder, as the elderly lady before me is having trouble understanding the euro coinage - even after all this time, it isn't unusual to see people of that age who haven't managed to get their heads around the move away from the lira - and in the end Claudia accepts a handful of small change in settlement of a larger bill, in order to help her out. And by that time, I've decided to resist temptation, and to stick to the original Casarecci plan. Tomorrow is another day, after all......

Back home, for the first - and very welcome- cappuccino of the morning, and to put a batch of almonds into the oven to roast. If the rain eases off, then I can get out into the garden to clean the leaves from the lily pond, and to plant Hyacinth and Narcissus bulbs in pots for the terrace...and if not, then it's a question of hunkering down beside the fire, and attacking the remainder of this year's Booker longlist.

The Brancolis will be here for dinner this evening, and to spend the night, passing through en route to the airport, as they depart until early next spring. It should be a bucolic affair.....

Tonight's dinner:

Casarecci, with melted Butter and Parmesan

Pork Loin, pot roast with Radicchio, Pancetta and Garlic

Tartes aux Pommes - served with cream (as long as the luggage which was yesterday kidnapped by Gatwick baggage handlers actually turns upon this afternoon's flight!)

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