Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

Another stay with a Servas host. One nice thing is that these hosts tend to live in places not well known. Giulianova is a relatively small city of 28,000 residents in Abruzzo on the Adriatic coast. There is the old town on the hill and a short drive down to the lido area (area near the sea). My hosts, Aurelia and Paolo didn’t have room in their house because they were expecting their sons, who are both university students to return for the weekend and I arrived on Friday. They did, however, have an apartment in the lido area that their kids use during the summer. It’s a short walk to the beach. I walked around a bit but for me, if you’ve seen one spiaggia (beach) you’ve seen them all. The high points were: lunch on Saturday which Paolo fixed. They both admit that Paolo is a much better cook than Aurelia and since Paolo likes food (don’t all Italians?) he has learned to cook quite well. So the lunch consisted of sole (the fish) cooked over a bed of tiny clams. He removed the clams and added pasta so it was tagliatelle with clam sauce with sole on the side. There was also a little antipasto of a very nice salami and parmigiano cheese (it’s not just for grating you know). The contorno was a green salad. Of course there was a local white wine, probably from someone they know since there was no label on the bottle. Of course I’m kicking myself for not remembering to take pictures of Aurelia and Paolo and their daughter Lucrezia but sometimes it just happens.

Another high point was a visit to a frantoio (olive press). Paolo is in the cleaning products business and was doing a favor for a friend by loaning an industrial grade floor cleaning machine to the friend’s frantoio. So the friend, the proprietor, walked me through the process. People bring their olives which are then processed in batches and the oil returned to the provider of the olives. There is a machine to take off the leaves and stems, then they are washed and sent to the crusher which consists of two large granite wheels that are probably much like they were a couple of centuries ago but now are no longer powered by mules or whatever. Then the resulting paste goes through some kind of process that thoroughly mixes everything. Then goes into a machine that adds water that combines with the oil and spins it to separate the resulting fluid from the pulp. There is something else that happens afterward which was hard to follow in Italian but the end result is very high quality extra virgin olive oil. The proprietor gave me a bottle and I’m thinking really hard about whether I can risk putting that in my suitcase for the trip home. It’s probably great stuff but if it should leak it would be a disaster.

Another highpoint was the dinner out on the last night. Paolo recommended a place (Osteria del Moro) and, fortunately, I reserved a spot. There was no menu but they asked if I wanted the antipasto. There was no choice; there was just THE antipasto. OK, why not?  Apparently it’s quite common in the south, unlike the north, to have an antipasto with a lot of different things. So it started arriving. First 3 plates then more and then still more. A total of nine things and I don’t remember them all; seafood bruschetta, calamari, an anchovie with some kind of green sauce, a bowl of small clams about the size of your thumb, a bowl of little snails that looked like little conch along with a toothpick to extract the little critters, a sea creature that resembled a large shrimp, but different, and is unique to the Adriatic sea, mussels, that’s the limit of my memory. I wasn’t really very hungry at that point but couldn’t resist at least a small secondo so I had some grilled fish. All delicious. “Si mangia bene” (one eats well) in the south of Italy. I wish I had pictures but I’m pretty timid about photographing food when the restaurant is full of people.

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