A night in Pleiney

If you go to the Aosta Valley and follow the signs for the Great Saint Bernard’s Pass, you’ll get to one of the region’s lesser-frequented valleys, the Great Saint Bernard Valley. It’s the valley where the wind known as the coumba freida in the local dialect blows cold in winter, and the temperature remains cool […]

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An hour from Milan

When lockdown was lifted, it all felt like someone’s idea of a joke as it rained for what felt like an eternity. Then it stopped, and the heat arrived. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Italy, and in this case northern Italy, there is heat and there is northern Italian heat. It’s the […]

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pandemic

The last time I wrote this was almost two years ago after coming back from the UK when the world was still as we knew it. Two years later and we’ve lived through a global pandemic. The first place to be affected in Europe was the northern region of Lombardy in Italy where I live. A […]

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Home, memory, sand in your sandwiches

Then we came home again, after a summer that included our usual trips to Spain and the UK, via the two month mark of the three month Italian school holidays when we all started to feel like it was time to go back to school. Yet the holidays continued, and the UK was a round of […]

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Chicken dinners

The decorator had been in all week and we were living in that state of chaos which is slightly too much. Meals on the coffee table (or rather what serves as the coffee table which is actually my old university trunk) eventually lose their appeal. Or rather than losing their appeal, we’d got to the […]

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A tale of two lasagne

If we’re talking lasagne, then it’s a tale of two. The first is my mother’s from my childhood, when lasagne was a food of ’80s dinners, along with the stir fried chicken that came from her copy of the St Michael Cookery Library’s Chinese Cooking. It was often made using dried lasagne verdi, and generally […]

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Memories will be made of meatballs

A friend asked me for the recipe for my meatballs. “How do you make yours?” she asked. “I love to hear how other people make them.” Good question. My meatballs are generally recipe-less. They’re usually a mix of the meat I’ve bought and what I have in the fridge. The other day I made them […]

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Comfort comes in the shape of meatballs

I had this phase once where just about every Friday night I’d make chicken risotto, and every Friday night my son would curl up his nose and wail “that’s not risotto!” because where we live risotto may be very popular, just not with chicken. So I’d end up giving him pasta and ragù instead, whereas […]

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Pesto(ish) for a rainy day

So after Spring made a very brief appearance, in particular yesterday which gave us a day in which we all breathed a sigh of relief from the awful weather we seem to be having recently, today it is cold, grey, raining and utterly miserable. Burian 2 is on its way, or the beast from the […]

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Wild boar stew is part of my identity

When I told my family I was toying with the idea of being vegan or at least vegetarian, my younger son looked at me in that way he has when it’s obvious he thinks his mother cannot possibly be serious. “You’ll never manage it,” he pronounced. Of course he was right. I can’t see myself […]

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Cacciucco, or chickpea soup amidst the snow

Cacciucco, a fish soup associated with Tuscan coastal towns such as Livorno, Viareggio, and in my case memories of a camping holiday in Castiglione della Pescaia where I had these rather romantic visions of the good life in a tent until the people in the tent next to us started singing Carpenters songs. I have […]

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Monday soup for the soul

After last week’s impromptu “let’s just all have a week off as everyone got ill”, everyone’s back and out of the house and so I spent the whole of my Monday morning – err, cleaning the kitchen. Yes, really, life is that glamorous, although it’s actually quite a nice feeling in a way, kind of […]

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