That would be me, Mrs. Moglie. Married to a native Italian, Mr. Marito.
Mother to a daughter in high school, Ms. SmartyPants and a son in middle school, Mr. Uometto.
Employed at a private British School as an English teacher and Coordinator of Children's Studies.
Part of a small, but growing Protestant church in Frascati, a small town in the hills just outside of Rome.

This is where I sometimes gripe, complain and grumble about the things I dislike, have yet to get used to or simply don't understand about bella Italia.
I do, however, have many people, places and things that I dearly love and I am more than aware of being blessed by each and every one of them.
Also - a few helpful posts for visitors to Rome or for newly arrived ex pats. Check the side bar for tags. I've even some recipes that I've borrowed, tweaked or invented. One thing I've come to love about Italy is how it's changed the way I eat - slow food !! Although ... I do miss Taco Bell ... and Jack in The Box ... and KFC ... and ::sigh::
Thanks for stopping by !!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pumpkin Pie, Evaporated Milk and the Search for Eggs at Midday

Thanksgiving -- this used to mean Turkey, mashed potatoes with brown gravy, green bean casserole with fried onions, honey glazed ham with peppercorns, seasoned homemade crouton stuffing ... and kimchi. Do you forget? I'm Korean. No meal, be it Spaghetti with Ragù or Chicken Enchilada, was complete without kimchi. Mrs. Mom claims that without her beloved Korean side dish, "소화 안되," she doesn't digest well. 

But here -sigh- Thanksgiving is a little different. Mrs. OkieDokieShmokiePokie and I usually manage to get together for the day and we do our best to celebrate it, if not with Pumpkin Pie, at least with an American Turkey Day spirit (thankfulness) - which, is not always an easy thing to do in Italy. 

I first met Mrs. OkieDokieShmokiePokie at our neighborhood park many years ago when our children were small and still very happy to be seen in public with their parents. I was probably pushing Ms. SmartyPants on the swing or dislodging rocks, sand and grass from Mr. Uometto's windpipe - one or the other, when I heard the unmistakable sound of the American, "no!" It's subtle, to be sure, but folks, I am an Expert short-open-drawn-out-O-versus-long-curt-tensed-O Distinguisher. (left: Mr. Uometto has wandered off into the background and is, no doubt, searching for all manner of inedible to put into his mouth) After identifying the source of this sweet American music to my ears, I casually moved my brood in a little closer, and not without some difficulty as Mr. Uometto was choking and gagging in the meantime. I seized the opportunity and used this, one of his many near death experiences, to my advantage.

I loudly scolded him - not so much to discourage his attempts at taste testing playground gravel, we'd grown accustomed to finding bits and pieces of hard black granules in his pannolini (diapers), but more in the hopes that my English might be heard by the American Mom - herself, trying to hinder her younger son from putting foreign objects into his ear. Through the corner of my eye, I saw her turn and lift her head towards me. She had heard me - hehe works every time. Quickly wiping the grin off my face just in time to see that she had abandoned her son to poke and prod at his inner ear, I straightened myself up and dusted myself off as she walked towards me. I was all a-flutter. She walked with purpose. 

"Hi!" she said. "Hi," I replied. And we've been bosom buddies ever since.  (right: Mr. UeUé and Ms. SmartyPants

She now works in a private American school with 9 - 5 hours, Mon - Fri, whereas I work at a private British school a few hours each afternoon, Mon - Thur. We're in the same city, but when you consider Rome traffic and public transportation, we may as well be in two different countries, so we don't often have the time to see each other apart from Sundays at church. American holidays mean she gets the entire day off from work while her children, both enrolled in Italian schools, won't be home until the afternoon. We try to make the most of our time together. One Thanksgiving, she brought a ready-to-heat Turkey roll and homemade cinnamon buns. I made stuffing and vegetable side dishes. We ate with chopsticks. 

Another Thanksgiving, we went to her house and it was a very special day because I had a can of Libby's Pumpkin Pie filling and 2 cans of evaporated milk. This was going to be awesome !! We made it all the way to her house before we realized we had no eggs. Whaaaaa ?! It was 1:30PM. Food stores are closed !! We panicked. We calmed down. We panicked some more. We reassured each other in turn. Something will be open, Yes, Yes, I'm sure they're still closing up. But who were we kidding? Aside from the city centers where the tourists flock, 1 - 1:30PM is when all of Italy, as a nation, closes. Italy reopens at 4 - 4:30PM. What were we to do? According to the directions on Libby's Pumpkin Pie filling, the cooking time alone is 55 minutes. And that's when you already have pie shells defrosting in your kitchen sink because you had gone to the store at any time you darn well pleased and you purchased a package of pre-made already in-its-own-baking-dish pie shells. 

We went to every open business possible. Pizza shops, ice cream shops, coffee bars - Hi, we're American and we're trying to bake a pie, but we've no eggs. Have you got any to sell? No, no eggs. Now, if you're wondering why we didn't simply knock on a neighbor's door and kindly ask for a few eggs, the reason is that most Italians are lunching at that hour. Or if you are like me and most of your neighbors are either elderly or have small children, 1 - 4PM is eat-and-then-take-a-nap time. So the last thing you want to do is incur the wrath of the resting Italian when you may need their assistance at a later, more appropriate hour for something exceedingly more important than eggs, like, say, olive oil. Also, Mrs. OkieDokieShmokiePokie and her family were newly arrived to the neighborhood and hadn't yet made "conoscenza" (acquaintance) with anyone yet. So there, that's why. 

Dejected, depressed, despondent and just plain sad, we were heading back to her house when I remembered  my favorite pastry shop, Ticchetti. Mr. Marito would have to drive us there as it was in my part of town, but Mr. Marito is a kind soul and especially keen on keeping his wife happy, so he said, "Si." The owner, who also happens to be, my father-in-law's, Mr. Suocero's, neighbor, listened patiently to our sad sad story of Pumpkin Pie filling and evaporated milk without eggs to make a pie shell. She's particularly fond of Americans because her cousin's husband's nephew's daughter-in-law lives in Wisconsin. So she gave us 4 eggs - free !! 

On the Bright Side
°whatever foods we eat on Thanksgiving day, it is always celebrated with a very thankful and very grateful spirit - all the more so when little things, like, eggs are so hard to come by if you're not prepared
°a good old friend with whom to share an "egg adventure" and so many other life-in-Italy "adventures"

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