Just climbed a frosty mountain? Braved the weather in wellies and a hat damp from the Christmas Day walk yesterday in an effort to feel hungry again? Perching by the fire with a frozen nose?
Nutella hot chocolate is the thing to make yourself/loved ones this Christmas, (if you haven’t already dissolved into a champagne & brandy soaked sugar cube yet that is.)
It is sweet, indulgent and cosy – so that is 3 hearty yes’s from us.
You literally just need milk, a big dollop of Nutella (per person) and something hot in which to bubble it all up together.
What are you still doing sitting there?
As you may have heard, I’m back from Italy but have not completely banished all things Italian from my life. Living with an Italian, I wanted to voice a few things that make me chuckle, that would just not happen if that person wasn’t from outta town.
1) He/she will make you do a double take when they ask:
and lean in curiously to listen when you explain it’s one of the below:
a) toast and butter
b) poached egg
c) eating a mince pie
2) When he/she informs you that said poached egg in Italian is translated as
‘egg in a white shirt’
3) Making a cup of tea means for most of us, well, making a cup of tea. But for some people it means popping a tea bag into a pan of tepid water and just waiting what happens.
4) You will learn you can never eat enough Nutella. On, everything that will allow a knife near it.
5) You will learn delightful and moreover, useful new words in Italian, such as:
6) London is and will forever be a foreign land, which means that most visits near Camden result in picking up either
a) a laminated picture of a red bus
b) a laminated picture of a red telephone box
c) a laminated picture of the Beatles crossing Abbey Road, you know the one
7) Fish fingers from Iceland are a special treat
8) Having to explain what the word ‘treat’ means
9) Prefers to watch football with a bucket of popcorn rather than a beer
10) Instant coffee is unheard of, the most unheard of, and is cast away from the kitchen faster than you can say when is your Dolmio day?
If you haven’t already devoured them…
I love the weight of a new book in my hand and the scent of fresh pages. I love the airy stillness of a bookshop, and the shiny new covers of bestsellers or old classics on tables near the front door. People are respectful in bookshops, delicate as they take the book from the shelf and place it away. People don’t bombard you like in every other shop in the world…
‘Hiya what can I get you everything alright let me know if you need anything,’
then a moment later:
‘Hiya what can I get you everything alright let me know if you need anything,’
(Ok I know they have to.)
But we are losing this culture, and according to statistics only a measley third of all consumers buy their books in bookshops, the rest online. Bookshops are being disastrously plucked from the high street, and I think it is quite sad, for I know the next time I go back to my local town up North my childhood bookshop may be replaced with a grotesque, gleaming pile of dirty hair-bobbles, socks and polyryrinethyroestrine lounge trousers, (aka, Primark.)
So here’s to a cosy Christmas with some recommendations:
1) The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
International bestselling romantic comedy, it is warm-hearted where the protagonist encourages us to see the funny side of our own often incomprehensible behaviour.
2) Stoner by John Edward Williams
This vintage classic has been dubbed as ‘the greatest American novel you’ve never heard of.’ Stoner has been described as ‘anti-Gatsby.’ Its prose is austere, the book perfectly constructed and is essentially a mesmerising account of one man’s failure. It is dusty with sadness but will weigh on your mind long after you’ve finished it.
3) The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
This is a fabulous tome, vividly weaved together and at times unbearably moving. The intricate details picked up by the narrator will resonate within the reader, the protagonist wandering into your mind and tugging at your soul.
4) Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann
Ok, a little more of a summer than winter read but all the more reason! Dripping with a Great Gatsby-esque glamour, there is murder, sex and mystery in 1950’s New England. Magnetically delivered through the eyes of five characters.
5) Mrs Hemingway by Naomi Wood
The tempestuous genius that is Ernest Hemingway had four wives. This novel portrays their lives, enticing, mysterious and often heart-wrenching. We are drawn behind the curtain of his lives and the absurdity of the fact that Ernest could not help proposing to his mistresses.
No! Not a real one. Just a bloggy one. Less exciting and life changing but still important if you ask me. If I ever do have one I will certainly turn it into life-changing literature, which I’m sure it would be. There is a … Continue reading
Busy cafe near Piazza di Spagna (named after the Embassy of Spain). Picture high palms and warm yellow, ochre and rust houses that proudly gaze over the steps. The steps were actually a gift from the French King Louise XV to Rome (should probably be called the French steps in the King’s honour but the Spanish Embassy got there in the nick of time.)
I had time to kill before picking up the piccola Teresa from school and settled in the Piazza with my book and a cappuccino (standard.)
I couldn’t help but notice a bouncy conversation three men in shiny suits on the table next to me started bellowing. Here is a rough translation of their brisk conversation:
Man 1, 2 and 3, let’s call them Riccardo, Luigi and Leonardo.
Riccardo: Ciao! Apologies for the delay – I got caught on a call
Luigi: That’s no problem – I just called you actually
Riccardo: Ah! was on the other line –
Luigi: Yes I gathered, no problem.
Riccardo: And Leonardo?
Luigi: He just called, he’s on his way
Riccardo: Great – did you read the email I sent you this morning?
Luigi: Haven’t had a chance yet
Riccardo: Ah I see – I was going to call after you’d read it to see what you thought before we met this morning
Luigi: I’ll read it after this meeting if that is alright, then I’ll let you know?
Riccardo: That is a good idea – here is Leonardo now
Leonardo: Ecco mi! Here I am!
Leonardo: Tutto bene? Everything ok?
Luigi: Everything is fine
Riccardo: Glad you could make it
Leonardo: What a great sun today!
Luigi: Are you going back to your parents this weekend?
Leonardo: That is the plan! If I can get out of that meeting at 4pm. Come to think of it, I could attend via conference call. Or can catch up with the discussion after
Riccardo: We could go though now what we are going to propose?
Riccardo: Why not? We are all hear apart from Filippo but he will be on the call later
Leonardo: I thought we intended to discuss the items for next week’s press release?
Luigi: I agree – that is more urgent
Riccardo gets up: Some caffe’ first guys?
Leonardo: Please – Let me offer you both one
Riccardo: So kind! Thank you
Luigi: I will have a caffe ristretto with pleasure, thanks
Folders shuffled, pens clicked, blackberrys on the table, I-Phone’s buzzing, Luigi answers and speaks for a moment. He frowns and leaves the table. After a moment or so, he returns, despondent
Luigi: It is with great regret I think I must leave – it appears Mario has had a run in with the Profilo clients
Riccardo: What a clown! He should be able to manage that account
Luigi: I don’t trust the man sometimes
Leonardo: Everything alright?
Luigi: Its the Banca Profilo clients – they have some problems [drinks his coffee with a flick of his wrist]. Thank you for that
Leonardo: My pleasure
Luigi: I don’t know what to do – I think it might be best if we get together in a few days. I am sorry, guys
Riccardo: We might have no choice [drinks coffee and lights a cigarette]
Leonardo: I may be away at the end of this week and early next – for a long weekend
Luigi: Ah I see
Riccardo: We could simplifly the situation and do this by a conference call?
Luigi: Not a bad idea
Leonardo: That’s settled then
Riccardo: I can email across the details
Luigi: Ok, perfect. Get in touch if you need anything in the meantime
Riccardo: Let’s get in touch later today then
Leonardo: Thanks guys, see you soon!
Riccardo: I’ll be in touch later today
Luigi: See you next time!
Business meeting adjourned. Five minutes of chair scraping, cigarette exchanging and texting.
I went back to my book, worried that after all that, nothing much was achieved but confused as to the original aim of said meeting. (I can hear you say, was it my business at all? Essentially not, no but one can’t help but overhear – besides how else can one successfully pick up the language?)
First of all, apologies for the recent silence – dilemmas summoned me homeward bound and so I’ve been absent from the keyboard. I’m back now and, if I may say so myself, in full force. Friday morning, I took Teresa … Continue reading