Throwback Thursday – Sweet Bolognese

A week or so ago my friend Anna mentioned a trip she took to Bologna at the beginning of 2020. And as always she took some incredible photos of city and, being it was Bologna and Italy, of the food. And of course that included a primi that is synonymous with that magical city: Tortellini.

This brought to mind a weekend jaunt in December 2010 with our friends Carol Ann and Craig to celebrate Carol Ann’s birthday and an evening stroll through the Quadrilatero steps away from Piazza Maggiore.

We ate in several great restaurants and being Bologna had tortellini as both a primi and surprisingly a sweet. I wrote about the history of the pasta and the pasta rica on our return to Rome that December:

Willy Or Won't He

If there is one pasta that is associated with Bologna  it’s tortellini – those little crescent shaped packages filled with meat, cheese or vegetables. There appears to be some dispute as to whither the dish originated in Bologna or Modena but chances are you’ll see them on the menu in most towns in Emilia.  Often they are served in broth, dressed with cream or ladled with a meaty ragu.

However those wily Bolognese don’t just think of tortellini as a primi – take for instance this tempting plate in the picture. You really wouldn’t want to smother these in hot broth, cream or ragu. Chances are that would turn them into a gloppy mess of .. chocolate.

These incredibly rich white chocolate confections are the work of the people at Drogheria Gilberto on Via Drapperie; a sweet shop nestled among butchers and bakers and, believe it or not, candle makers…

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Throwback Thursday – St Petersburg

A posting of a photo of the Cathedral of the Savour on Spilled Blood in St Petersburg by my friend Vicki had be looking through the files on my old Mac for photos from the three days we spent there back in June of 2012. One of my favourites sites was the little Church of St John the Forebearer at Chesma which I wrote about on June 28th of that year. The day we were there the church was closed in preparation for a wedding so we was unable to see the interior. I thought I would revisit that post and having found a few pictures of the beautiful iconostasis I updated the post and have reposted it as a bit of a Thursday Throwback as well as Armchair travel.

Willy Or Won't He

The inspiration here was not things Turkish but a Russian victory over the Turks on July 7, 1770. The destruction of the Turkish fleet at Chesma was the final victory in a battle that had begun on June 24, 1770, the Nativity of St John the Forerunner (the Baptist) and it led to the construction of one of the most delightful churches in all of St Petersburg. Even amongst the bonbon colours and decorations of so many of the buildings in the city and surrounding countryside the Church of St John the Forerunner at Chemenskaya stands out as one of the most elegant confections imaginable.

In 1774 Catherine the Great ordered a palace be built as a rest stop on the route from the Winter Palace in St Petersburg to the Catherine Palace at Tsarskoye Selo. Geographically it is almost at the half way point between the two but it…

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Throwback Thursday – Memories of Rome

Reading over several posts from our time in Rome I was surprised that in the four years I was there I was in hospital for three extended periods. When I say extended I mean four or five days. One episode was in the massive Policlinico near us and two in a small private hospital. Plus there were several sojourns to Pronto soccorso (ER) at both Policlinico and Geminelli. Though the medical end of things were not always pleasant often the sheer theatre that surrounded it  was always worth it.

On December 28, 2008 a visit to the Pronto soccorso at Ospidale Geminelli gave me a further look at the vitality and endearing quirks that made me fall in love with Italy and Italians.

Willy Or Won't He

Date: December 28, 2008
Time: Somewhere between 4 PM and 10 PM
Place: Pronto Soccorso (ER) Ospidale Geminelli

So we’re sitting in one of the waiting areas of the ER, me with a drip and IV stand attached – don’t get worried Dora, the outcome though inconclusive was okay – Laurent dozing. Neither of us had thought to bring a book – mental note always have a book at hand for Pronto Soccorso. Pronto by the way means Quick, Soccorso means Help or Aid .. hmmm.

But the lack of reading material didn’t mean a lack of entertainment – we are, after all, in Italy. Though much of the entertainment was amusing, if not downright funny, there were serious matters going on.

The young man (14 or 15 at the most) on the stretcher near us in obvious pain. His mother, a small woman with an expressive face and eyes…

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A Melancholy Memory of Rome

When we lived in Rome I made a trip twice a week from our house in Nomantana to my psychiatrist on the other side of the Tiber in Trastevere. It involved a journey that could vary anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours depending on the buses and unpredictable Roman traffic. On January 7th 2010, a Thursday that year, as usual, I took the number 64 to Piazza Venezia changed to a number 10 to Largo di Torre Argentina. From there I walked through the Ghetto and crossed at Isola Tiberina. After almost a week of rain the Tiber was threatening to breach its banks and there was more rain in the air. This was my habitual route but that day it was different.

Willy Or Won't He

Thursday – January 7th, 2010.

I’m not sure if it is the season winding down or the gloomy, rainy weather – we had five days of rain in Madrid and Rome has been little better since our return – but my mood today (Thursday) was one of an almost desperate melancholy. Though it was a sunnier and milder day than it has been I found myself very aware of the ruins in this city as I made my way over to Trastevere. Not the Auralian Walls or Porta d’Ottavia – those have become almost commonplace – nor the decaying Renaissance palazzi hiding behind the chipped veneer of the Baroque. I was noticing the ruined people who were around me and seem to have become more numerous on the streets in the past few weeks.

There now seems to be more homeless people sleeping in doorways and sadly more lost souls…

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A Christmas Legend Revisited

A post on a religious humour Facebook page I follow – yes faithful reader religion can be funny as well as pretty scary – highlighted a recently discovered manuscript of a Gregorian chant. Strangely it refers to a well-known secular Christmas story. In church Latin it tells, not of the Nativity or the Journey of the Magi, but of a rubiconasus reno called Rodolfus and his pilgrimage through the sky.

This reminded me of a brief essay I wrote several Christmastides ago that linked the legend to an even earlier fragment of Anglo-Saxon poetry. I felt for Throwback Thursday it would be appropriate to repost it for your holiday enlightenment.

Willy Or Won't He

Most of us have grown up with the Christmas story of Rudolph, the little reindeer with the red nose who came into his own one foggy Christmas Eve.  Certainly I recall it as a favourite song on the radio as sung by Gene Autry – until the 1980s it was the second highest selling record of all time.  And I have a memory of a visit to Simpson’s Toyland during the Holiday season which involved approaching a frosty scene with a mechanical Rudolph that you talked to – though for the life of me I don’t recall or even imagine what either I or Rudolph would have said or had to say to each other.  And of course starting in 1964 there was the stop-action TV special that has been shown annually every since which makes it the longest running annual programme on television.

rudolphbook1 Covers of the original 1939 Montgomery…

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