Italy is a food lover’s paradise. Everything is fresh, vibrant, colorful, and just delicious. The juicy red tomatoes, firm peppery basil leaves, sweet crunchy peppers, meaty eggplants, and pungent garlic straight from the earth are like none that I’ve tasted before. The soft fuzzy peaches were so juicy, they needed to be eaten over the kitchen sink. The cantaloupe and dark purple plums and grapes all smelled like sunshine. The giant yellow lemons from Amalfi were everything that lemons should be. It’s true. I was in paradise.
We stayed in the Campania region of Italy, which is in the southern part of the boot, in a small mountain village called Calitri. We fell in love with the simple way of life of this tiny town and we fell deeper in love with the lovely people who live here.
But I think my favorite part of our stay in Calitri was the food. Day after day, we walked down into town to the tiny grocery stores and produce stands. We bought fresh pasta and fresh cheese. We were spoiled by the deliciousness of crusty fresh bread, which we ate with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We sampled many preserved foods, like pickled bell peppers, sundried tomatoes, capers, and plump purple olives. We would always get a bunch of fresh green basil thrown into our shopping bag at the produce stand. And I never grew tired of picking fresh figs from the fig tree right outside our front door.
Every day, I was inspired by the ingredients. I was constantly thinking of different ways to cook the vegetables or different sauces to make for the pasta. And the wonderful part of it all was that the food didn’t need anything complicated to make it delicious. Everything was so incredible that the simplest ways to prepare the food were the best ways to bring out its flavor.
I plan to post many of the dishes we made while cooking in our little Italian kitchen. I can’t wait to share them with you and hopefully inspire you.