We all know Italians are fashion conscious. Way back in August before I went back to Oregon for a few weeks, I knew this fall’s colors were going to be charcoal gray and purple. In early August there were great end of the season summer sales. I was even able to pick up a few bargains with the exchange rate being bad. But by the third week in August, it was time to think about fall. And here, fall means charcoal gray and purple. I’m not talking mauve, eggplant, or lavender. I’m talking PURPLE: purple handbags, purple belts, purple shoes, purple, purple, and more purple. And not just for women. Oh no. For men, the lining of a suit can be purple, and most definitely the socks. Scarves can be purple, and purple cashmere sweaters are a “must have” item. At first, I thought it a striking combination. But now that every storefront has these colors, and most everyone on the street is wearing them, I just can’t bring myself to participate. Purple is ruined for me forever…….not that it was ever my favorite color. I am so un-chic.
Fall is a wonderful food time in Italy. It is olive harvest time, and the season for truffles and chestnuts. Regarding olive oil, we were discussing the other night how we simply cannot believe how much of it we have consumed since we’ve been here. I sauté with it, marinate with it, and drizzle it on the finished meal. I’ve been sampling artisan olive oils purchased in the countryside searching out the ultimate oil. I still haven’t found it, but we’ve had some good ones……and we drizzle it on everything. If you’ve read my previous blogs, you know we’ve relished our experiences with steaks smothered in black truffle sauce. I have yet to cook with them though. Chestnuts are a childhood memory for me. During all the years I lived on Guam, we used to travel to Japan quite often. And if I was lucky enough to go during chestnut season, I was in heaven. I would buy paper sacks of them from street vendors. Here, in Rome, they’re sold in paper cones. The first time I saw a chestnut roasting man near the Trevi Fountain, I knew fall was in the air. Even the local gelato man has added chestnut flavored ice cream to his repertoire for the season. And recently, we stopped by a wonderful chocolate shop featuring chocolates from Naples, and one of our purchases were shaped just like a chestnut and filled with chestnut crème. I’ve recently purchased some from the local market, and am planning on roasting them myself in the oven. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes. Oh, and pears……. The fall pears here have been simply delicious….juicy, sweet and firm. And guess what? The gelato man makes pear ice cream too! It’s the best!
Rome is called the “Eternal City” supposedly because it has been a seat of power for so long. To me, it’s called the “Eternal City” because you could live here an eternity and never see all it has to offer. At night, it’s a different city than it is during the day. It’s still abuzz with people but what makes this city different than most other big cities I’ve ever visited is the lack of harsh neon lighting. Rome positively glows at night. Every monument you saw during the day takes on a soft golden wash when the lights come on at night. All the little side streets are lit by soft old fashioned lamps. Every piazza’s fountain glitters. If you think Rome is stunning by day…….wait until the sun sets.
Written Nov. 2008