When I visit my country of origin, I do a bit of shopping, as you can imagine. A couple of people have asked me about my purchases (acquisti), so I thought I would write a few lines to satisfy their curiosity.
Books — I usually buy a dozen books (libri). I enforce upon myself such a limit, otherwise I would easily go overboard. This time, my purchases included1:
- the latest Montalbano novel
- a crime novel by Andrea Camilleri (not featuring Montalbano)
- two novels by the Swedish couple Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö (Roseanna and Cop Killer)
- the first novel with Pepe Carvalho as protagonist, about which I wrote a post for the most recent edition of Novel Food
- a mystery set in a town in Tuscany, where the sleuth is a barista
- the first novel of Jean-Claude Izzo's Marseilles Trilogy, whose protagonist is of Italian origin
- bread recipes from my own region, Umbria
I also brought back with me a couple of books I had bought many years ago:
- the complete poems by Trilussa, written in Roman dialect (on this page there is a sample poem with the English translation)
- poems with recipes for soups and musings, also in Roman dialect, by actor Aldo Fabrizi.
An aside on a couple of book-related words that may cause confusion: libreria is Italian for bookstore, while biblioteca is the library.
Cioccolato (chocolate), mostly single origins I wanted to try. I would like to clarify that I am not in any way advertising the items in the photo: I am very curious when it comes to chocolate and allow myself to be tempted.
Liquirizia pura: pure licorice (in the small bag on the left in the photo). This liquirizia spezzata (broken) is kept in a big glass jar at a torrefazione (coffee store) close to the Lambrate train station in Milan. I used to work nearby, which is how I came to know the place. It is the real thing: pure licorice, unsweetened and without any other flavors. People used to eating sweet, gummy licorice are in for an intense experience when they taste liquirizia pura.
Semola di grano duro rimacinata (durum wheat semolina re-ground): the brand my mother uses for making fresh egg pasta.
Amido di frumento (wheat starch): I looked for this ingredient last summer, when I was developing my recipe for gelo di melone, but could not find it. I will now be able to see how wheat starch performs in the dessert compared to corn starch.
Ammoniaca per dolci (baker's or baking ammonia): used as leaving agent in a recipe for cookies that I wanted to try (and did try: they were good and would have been better had I not created a problem with the oven. I will make them again and then tell you about them).
Fagiolina del Lago Trasimeno: a very special legume, also grown in my home region.
Kitchen items — Replacement gaskets for my one-cup Bialetti stovetop coffee pot. They only sell bigger pots here, so I find only bigger gaskets.
Something for the table (a pair of objects, actually), which I will describe in a future post.
A ceramic container from Deruta, already featured in this post (and by now in need of being replenished).
What have you bought or would you have bought during a visit to Italy? (Maybe I did too, and simply forgot to mention it.)
1 The following books are available in English: the first 11 Montalbano novels, Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö's Martin Beck mysteries, Manuel Vázquez Montalbán's Pepe Carvalho mysteries, Jean-Claude Izzo's Marseilles Trilogy, Tales of Trilussa (a selection of Trilussa's collected poems).
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the far spese in Italia audio file [mp3].
I started writing this post before the magnitude 6.5 earthquake that shook our corner of California and before the devastating one of magnitude 7 in Haiti. You may have seen images of the first one and have certainly seen reports of the second one. My mind also went back to images of the magnitude 6.3 earthquake that caused death and destruction in the Italian region of Abruzzo last April. We follow the news and help however we can.
Let me offer something for consideration. A few years ago, I took several disaster preparedness classes organized by the city of Berkeley's Office of Emergency Services. Acquiring knowledge that allows us to more appropriately handle emergency situations is beneficial to us and to our community.