We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Finally-- the wisteria in our garden is blooming!!!  I've been enjoying all of the other Wisteria-sightings all over  Venice for the past few weeks now, hoping ours would pop also.  No such luck- until yesterday. 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Finding my Italian roots

I've wondered about my Italian relatives my entire life. Who were these people, what were they like, what did they LOOK like?  My mother, who is native Italian but came over to America on one of those ships carrying war brides from Italy back to the USA during WWII, brought only one small suitcase with her. For reasons I'll never know, she did not bring photographs. Growing up, the information we got about our Italian relatives was pretty sketchy.  By the time my mother immigrated to the US at 18 yrs old, both her father and mother were deceased.  I always believed the reason there was not much talk about the family was because it was  a difficult topic for Mom. But that didn't stop me from wondering.

Since moving to Italy, I've had the oppportunity to get to know some of the family members on my mother's side of the family tree. About a year ago, during one of my trips to visit with my mother's cousin Carlo, who just turned 87, Carlo asked me what I knew of my Italian grandparents. Not much, I was sorry to say. As we sat around Carlo's kitchen table talking that night, he shared some stories he remembered about his uncle- my grandfather- Cesare.  Carlo remembered from when he was a young boy himself, that his uncle  Cesare was always singing and playing his guitar. And he knew that Cesare worked as a manager or supervisor for some government agency. Cesare died of a stroke at age 57. My mother was 12 at the time.

A few months later, an envelope arrived in the mail.  The only contents of the envelope was the photo you see below.   Carlo and his sister Maria Rosa had gone through the old family albums and sent this to me. This is my Italian nonno, Cesare.

Now framed, and on display in my living room where I see it regularly, this photo makes me feel a bit more connected to my Italian family.   

Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Spring delight- Moeche!

Moeche- little soft shell crabs- are a Venetian speciality. Found in the markets and on restaurant menus only for a few short weeks every spring and early fall, when the crabs are molting their shells. Below is a stack of them at the Rialto Fish Market this morning. Unfortunately, by my calculations, we probably will only see Moeche in the markets for about one more week, maybe two if we are lucky.

And here are some moeche we devoured for dinner on Friday evening.  To cook them, the live crabs are submerged in beaten eggs. The crabs actually eat up the egg mixture, deep fried quickly, and served.  Absolutely delicious!

Simple pleasures

Here's my simple pleasure from yesterday. I'm smiling about it today still!

After having my ususal cup of tea at Imagina Caffe in Campo Santa Margherita, I made my way to the counter to pay the bill. Standing next to me, also waiting to pay up,was one of the neighborhoods more colorful characters, a fairly well known elderly artist, a Venetian gentleman who must be in his late 70's or early 80s.  I see him frequently here, and in the past we've always exchanged hellos.

Yesterday,  he said hello to me in English, I answered him back in Italian.
Also in English, he asked me how I was.  I said fine, and in turn asked him how he was.
He answers back, in English "Now that I've seen you, better".
I just laughed, and said, "You know, in America, we would say that was quite a line! "
He smiled back, and answered, "Illusion is everything. We need it, don't you agree?"
"Absolutely", I smiled back.
With that, he said, " See you later, baby", and went off on his way.

Domenico, behind the counter, overheard the conversation.  I commented to Domenico that this is one smooth character ! Domenico grinned, and replied, "That's how that old man is always with some young woman!"

I'm still grinning over hearing "See you later, baby" out of the mouth of this old Italian man. Gotta love it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Another new addition to our neighborhood

Not long ago, a new butcher shop ( macelleria) opened in Campo Santa Margherita, right across from the Scuola Grande dei Carmini. This came as a shock to us, as the majority of shops opening up all over Venice are ones that cater to the tourists- selling magnets, postcards, and imported masks or glass jewelry.  Shops that tend to the daily needs of locals are shutting down, not opening. So having our new butcher is a blessing, and we make a point of patronizing his shop often.

The other day  as I was running my daily errands, I stopped in at the butcher shop, with no particular plans for what I was going to buy.  I was hoping I'd see something behind the glass case and be inspired for dinner that night.  My inspiration did come, but in a very unexpected way.  As I waited, I paid attention to what the other customers were ordering. One woman asked for twenty meatballs. I looked into the display case, and sure enough, there was a large stack of meatballs- large, round, mouthwatering meatballs. I watched as the butcher counted out all twenty for her.  She paid for her order and left. The next woman ordered 15 meatballs. I began to wonder if these women all knew something I didn't know!  When it was my turn I could not control myself.   "Dieci polpette"  (10 meatballs) came out of my mouth, almost without me knowing what I was doing. Yes, ten went home with me.

Dinner was spaghetti and meatballs.  After eating my meal, I knew why everyone was buying meatballs from our new butcher. They were delicious!  The perfect blend of beef and veal, along with some herbs. Now I know where to find homemade meatballs just like my mom used to make.  Life is good.