Alla Casa di Annarita & Tony

We were invited twice to dinner at Tony and Annarita’s and both times were amazing!

I know it seems like I dwell on food all of the time, and I suppose I do. It is near and dear to my heart. But food is very important in Mediterranean culture. When people come together, food is always involved. And in Italy, it is always wonderful.

Thursday, 28 August

On our stay in Abruzzo we were invited to dinner, twice, at Tony and Annarita’s home. Annarita is a cousin of Joe’s and sister to Barabara’s mother. We had just a marvelous evening! Like many Italian meals, the food was light, simple and incredibly delicious.

Tony and Annarita have a beautiful house in the country. It is rolling hills, small two lane road, and totally captivating!

The house inside is charming. It has the usual Italian layout with a combined dining room/family room with a long table for family dinners.

We sat outside before dinner having a drink and talking. It was a warm lovely evening to be outside without a sweater.

We sat down to a typical Italian meal that was out of this world! At the table, from the left, are Tony, Joe, Christina, Rosa, Annarita and Carmen.

What a meal we had! This is how Italians eat and why it is so famous. Looking at the plate above, we have focaccia at the top. Going around to the left we have a fresh soft white cheese, then a frittata which is basically a quiche without a crust, then prosciutto, pancetta (I think) and finally what looks like a meatball. But it is not a meatball. This delicious concoction is a ball of bread and cheese cooked in tomato sauce. And it is simply amazing! In the center is a pressed hot sausage called capicolla.

This is a great picture. Back row is Christina, then Rosa, Joe’s sister. Rosa lives in Winnipeg where she and Joe grew up. Susan we know and then there is Zia Anna from Winnipeg. In the front row from the left we have Carmen, her mom, Annarita, her sister Antonina, and way over on the right is Zio Mariano.

That’s me on the left. Behind me is Joe’s Zio Mariano, then Tony and his daughter Carmen, and finally Joe on the right. We had a wonderful meal that night. Little did I know there was more to come!

Friday, 5 September

Well, that was on the 28th of August. Now, my Italian is not very good so I don’t follow the conversations usually and I don’t understand the plans as they are made. But one evening I was told we were going back to Annarita and Tony’s for pizza. Well, I was up for that! Boy, was that a pizza night!

Annarita has this oven in her kitchen. It is a strange metal tank with revolving shelves that she can heat to cooking temperature. And she can really turn out incredible pizza with it. She had about fifteen kinds on the table and they were all simply wonderful. We had simple tomato and cheese, vegetarian, meat lovers delight, mild, spicy, everything you can imagine. And every one was better than anything we can buy here in Vancouver. There were lots of us at the table and we all ate until we could eat no more.

The long table with family and friends around it is extremely common in Italy. Not only were older families large, but families are closer than here. In Italy, a cousin is almost the same as we view a brother or sister.

So when you take closer families and add the custom of eating you frequently get large gatherings at the table. Because we were guests visiting we saw it as a larger phenomenon that it really was. Every one wanted to treat us to dinner every evening. But there is still no question that in Italy, and I think in Europe and the Mediterranean countries, family gatherings are larger and far more common.

It is a nice feeling to be with so many people with whom you share a bond. Even as a guest and an outsider, you could not help but feel the warmth and satisfaction that sharing a meal and a glass of wine brings. I love Italy for that.

That has been one of the joys of living with Susan. The big meals we have are hard work but they are such a pleasure. And of course for every dinner you put on, you are invited to two or three. This way the ties with family and with friends are kept strong.

 

Here are Joe, Tony and Vittorio. Vittorio is the fidanzata of Angela, Annarita’s older daughter. Joe doesn’t look so happy but I think the problem is that he’s hiding a mouthful of pizza.

Look at this pizza! The crusts were crispy on the bottom and the cheese was all melted and gooey. Annarita did fifteen or sixteen different varieties, each one different. It was phenomenal.

And finally we come to Annarita with the evenings desert. She is a marvelous cook and dinner at her house is delightfully informal. As the evening progresses the conversation soars as does the volume at which it is conducted.

Annarita and Tony are wonderful hosts and I look very forward to returning to their home for more evenings of good food and good conversation. Until then, this page is my homage to this lovely couple.

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