More breakfast, no more fast breaks

Mince Pies

Late Xmas Treat: Mince Pies

Having breakfast with something I created is one lovely treat that keeps telling me I’m doing the right thing. Following the correct path. I’m not just jumping on the foodie bloggers bandwagon. If I were, I would definitely force myself to post recipes way more often. I am doing what I take pleasure in. It is this certainty that makes me get my butt of the couch when I get home after work (and after working out!) to make cakes and cookies.

My family, generations of sweet-toothed individuals, almost stopped buying sweets and cookies. We live off the ones we bake. I couldn’t be prouder of myself.

These days my mind goes back to the frenzied, packed December and the end-of-the-world madness. I kept toying with the idea that I spent my life making the most out of my time, without rushing, and that, had the world actually ended, I was satisfied with the experiences I had lived so far. And then I thought: “Where would I want to be now?”. What would you have done? Who would you’ve run to? Cell phones out of the way and everything.

I answered, picturing myself. If the world had ended, I would have died having breakfast. That’s right. Breakfast is my happiness ritual.

Quite predictably, I did not actually spend December 21st having breakfast. I celebrated the event having some friends over gather over a bottle (read: a bit more) of their favorite drink and some awkward questions.

That night I did not relax until it was time to go to bed, no wonder it took me a while to cool off. And then something happened. As 2012 was quickly and confusedly coming to an end, I couldn’t help to feel relieved and yet, something was not quite right. I kept feeling like I spent the remainings of last year running against time and without being fully concentrated, rather just going by.

Usually, I want to make the most out of my time, even if it implies laying on the couch just reading a book or having a pleasant, flowing, conversation. I want to feel I am doing what I want to do. I know it’s unrealistic to have such an expectation. At times like these, time is gold. We get paid for the time we spend at the office. Well, in most companies. If we work freelance, we mostly get paid on an hourly basis. Hence, time is luxury.

That’s why I love breakfast and I have always thought that who doesn’t agree with me on that is not familiar with earthly pleasures. Of course, when I was in high school I had no time to spare in the early morning rush, when I woke up in the mornings it was always too late not to feel nautios at the mere idea of ingesting anything.

Now I simply have to get up in the morning and eat, it’s not just that it’s the first thing I need to do because my body tells me so. It is the remarkable sign of the fact that I have time and I want to spend it taking care of myself. I’ll have time to catch those last five minutes’ sleep. When I’ll be six feet under.

What is not coming along in my journey through 2013 is the sensation to be wasting time. Time flies even when you’re not having that much fun. Time flies, or should I say, passes you by, when you are not focused on where you want to get in life. This is the proper age to figure all this stuff out, society has taught us. As Muse would have it “Time is running out”. Whether it’s time left for enjoying the previously mentioned earthly pleasures, or just time left for accomplishing whatever we want to be.

This is the only lesson I am ever going to learn about the Maya-media-hype and collective mania and from two or three losses of the past year. “The problem is, we think we have time” goes the saying.

It sure is one thing I have not yet mastered, but hope to improve day by day. I am letting people I invested my time on go. And, finally, without feeling like I regret a single moment.

Acceptance, this is what they call it. Time to move on.

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Wake up call

Coffee Cake

Extreme Wake up Call: Coffee Cake with Extra Buttery Coffee Icing

Time for brooding’s up – definitely too late. I’ve indulged, waiting. After all, that’s what they call it, right? Post-Traumatic Stress DisorderPTSD. Far from even joking with something so serious, what I’m going through is more like Post-traumatic Steady Depression.

A state of mind which takes over your entire body, having you feel chained to bed and whimsical, like all you can actually muster to do is watch a movie curled up in bed and sniffing through soaked napkins. What a sight.

I have always been harsh on people who gave in to suffering. Regardless if they were friends. Since I have always needed to play the though one, for my sister, for my mum, for whoever (the very few people indeed I let in my life) I almost patronized those who – in my opinion – conjured drama out of thin air. I realize now that this has come a long way in making me feel I always owe people something. I over-do. That’s it, I try too hard. Not to impress anybody (well, not always) but because I set way too high standards on myself.

Then it happened, realization was just one phone call away (by the way, call was on me, so yes he was that stingy). When I was the one who was being left behind, by the person I was indeed trying to help, my ex-boyfriend, something clicked. I reacted the only way I know, by telling myself I am way too mature and there are worse scenarios in the world than being dumped and with no career opportunities. I went out, I tried playing cool. But I knew all along that this time I didn’t want it to work out that way. I think this is the payback for all those years when I thought I was practicing for becoming the superwoman I am very far from resembling as of now.

Ok, self-indulgence/pity time is over. People who were significant in my life passed away earlier this year and I have no intention whatsoever to waste time anymore. I intend to put all my efforts into turning down “moments” into something gracious and powerful, a little, everyday memo of what’s important in life. Let myself be hit by nostalgia, savour it, and then smile at the mirror and think: “You’re ok, and it’s gonna be ok.”

It is indeed ok, I’ll stop trying to pretend I’m not judgmental while inside I’m feeling deeply smug about my condition. There is no smugness here. We are all human beings. We all get good and evil, bravery and cowardice. I know there are good-natured people out there, people that will help me feel at home while I’m lost, I just can feel it. Well, it’s not so much as a feeling, more like a wish. A wish I hang on to as if I were a child waiting for the first snow.

And while I hang on, I decided it’s time to stop waiting. While I keep busy, I am secretly always waiting for something to happen, as if suddendly, out of the blue, the universe would finally realize the awesome person I am and decide I deserve to find the perfect job, allow me to solve my family issues and consequently find a man that is not: narcissistic/maniac/alcoholic/childish and so on, whom I really like and can connect to. As if.

Time’s up. In a bit more than two months I’m turning 27. Better get going girl. I’ll start with a piece of cake.

Una domenica d’amare

Fall Food

Pistachios and Carrot Cake with White Chocolate Icing

E il settimo giorno Dio si riposò. L’impiegato arrivista invece lo passò a rivedere una presentazione, lo studente in pigiama cercando di non vomitare, le famiglie benedicendo l’IKEA per fare da surrogato parentale tra Lack e hot-dog a 1 Euro.

Da quando si è dovuto dare un ordine alla settimana, imponendo un’alternanza tra lavoro e riposo, la domenica è per molti di noi l’unico giorno da trascorrere gambe all’aria. Per la mia limitata esperienza, la domenica è uno di quei giorni su cui ognuno ha un’opinione. Un po’ come la cannella, o la si ama o la si odia. Bianco o nero. C’è chi come me si trova giusto in mezzo alle sopra menzionate categorie. C’è chi l’aspetta avidamente per annichilirsi con videogiochi, c’è chi deve riempirla a tutti i costi di attività pseudo-culturali. Parlo ovviamente delle domeniche che vanno da settembre ad aprile. Anche se d’estate, diciamocelo, il dualismo rimane. Ci si divide fra il partito dello slogan: “Tapparelle abbassate-Formula 1”; e gli irriducibili della gita fuoriporta: mare, montagna o piscina – è lo stesso.

La domenica è un po’ la metafora concentrata di come passeremmo la nostra vita se non dovessimo impegnare, nel migliore dei casi, circa 40 ore a settimana per guadagnare soldi da spendere – quando? – la domenica.

Tradizionalmente considerato il giorno degli affetti, è lo stesso in cui puoi per contrappasso avvertire maggiormente la solitudine.

Per me è sempre stato un giorno strambo e inquieto, in cui raramente avevo punti fermi, divisa tra parti diverse della mia famiglia e mai veramente a casa. Un giorno che passava in fretta, fatto di viaggi della speranza per trovare la nonna, di “Per un pugno di libri”, di aperitivi interrotti, di interminabili code e conseguenti riflessioni. Senza ripetersi in maniera uguale, bensì mischiandosi caoticamente.

Reduce da una domenica tutt’altro che da coma (non me ne voglia J.AX), ritengo di aver fatto pace con il settimo giorno della settimana. Da quando sono uscita dall’adolescenza, le mie domeniche sono contraddistinte solo dallo stesso atto pratico: fare un dolce. Ne ho bisogno, fisico. Non mi pesa. Nemmeno quando la sera prima ho flirtato un po’ troppo col nettare di Bacco, anche in tal caso, mi alzo e li faccio lo stesso. Non li faccio più per alcuni dei miei affetti, che ora non possono più aspettarli per osannarli o criticarli, li faccio a mero beneficio di alcuni intimi amici e del piacere demiurgico che ne traggo io dal veder nascere qualcosa dalla trasformazione di qualcos’altro.

Ogni giorno che passa sono sempre più grata alla mia “famiglia urbana”, quella che ti scegli giorno dopo giorno, sovrapponendo e via via scremando conoscenze nel corso degli anni. Perché, come bisogna imparare ad amare la malinconia della domenica, bisogna essere in grado di cogliere l’affetto nelle piccole cose, e poi provare a curarlo e rispettarlo. In alcuni casi bisogna essere in grado di smettere di cercarlo dove vorresti ci fosse. Ci saranno altri amici, conosceremo altre persone, persone che condivideranno i nostri valori, o anche solo le nostre passioni. E i dolci.

Oggi io dico: ciao, Domenica. Mi hai procurato nostalgia, senso di perdita, inadeguatezza rispetto alle famiglie tradizionali. Ora ti accetto per quello che sei. Un giorno che ci obbliga a mettere a nudo il fermo immagine della fase di vita in cui ci troviamo. E a dover dire: da lunedì inizio la dieta.

How to make a breadcrumble

Pappa col pomodoro

The Bread: the bread is one the main components of our lives, pretty much everywhere on this planet. Except for the Western elites who keep demonizing carbs as Satan’s food, bread is “the staff in life”. There’s something so reassuring about it, maybe it’s not properly comfort food, but it’s one of the first things you’ll resort to when you need a carb-infused boost. Especially if you dip it into a freshly made tomato sauce. Bread stands for my Italian roots, almost screaming them out load, now clearer and more striking than ever. Like saying: back to basics.

Not so long ago one of my coworkers, who loves to drop in life-coach-worthy metaphors every once in a while, came up with this: “If you make the best bread in town and end up giving it to everybody, it’ll become even less than a standard.” A “given”, as marketers would have it. Something anybody has grown to expect from you and that is consequently not valued the way it should be. So here’s my starting point. Bread is a simple, commodity product, yet it’s a metaphor of whatever whole parts remain untouched in your soul and its value depends entirely on who you share it with. I’ve decided there’s no ciabatta or loaf here, just breadcrumbs to spread out to all the people who mean something in my life.

The Crumble: a bit more complicated to grasp. The Crumble stands for the well-known mix of flour and butter that goes so well with all kinds of fruit. There’s also a salty version, but, damn, I have a sweet tooth. It’s sure one easy way to turn basic ingredients into something rich and fancily fragmented.

Just like the crumble, this will be a virtual space for me to divide, collect and put together the pieces in the jigsaw that I’ve come to consider my life to be. I know, hard times we’re living. Recession is not playing easy on Generation X, or the following alphanumeric ones for that matter. Still, personal drama is somewhat more powerful, it affects us more than any doomsday-like scenario we hear on the news. It’s what makes us move and take life-altering decisions.

Here comes the last layer behind the name. In wannabe-nerd terms, breadcrumbs are tools to help the user who navigates the site find his/her way back from any given point on the map site. As dear Mother Wiki has it: “Breadcrumbs typically appear horizontally across the top of a web page, often below title bars or headers […] Breadcrumbs provide a trail for the user to follow back to the starting or entry point.” The term, originated from the breadcrums left by fairytale twins Hansel and Gretel, evokes the ability to find (or should I say fight) your way back through an uncertain path. Much like giving someone the power to see things in the wider scheme and putting it – quite literally – in their hands. I dig this concept, from an omniscient narrator to an omniscient user.

Getting to the point, a breadcrumble is a multi layered mess of beautiful single elements. Just like me, and this is where I will blend them all together and spit them out. To underline a fresh start. Period. Sometimes, and not only with web browsers, there’s just no turning “Back”. Whether it be because you just can’t remember how you got there in the first place, or because picking up old habits is the last thing you want.

Ch-ch-changes, said someone whose chameleon-like character won him a spot in the hall of fame. Change is what will always be there. As ironic as it may sound, change is the only certainty we have. Better be ready.

Finally, a style note for the sake of whoever will stumble upon these pages: there’ll be posts written alternatively in Italian or in English. They will not be following a regular pattern or talk about the same topics, these are two very different languages, apt for conveying different ideas and emotions.

Know what? Fine by me.