Ramblings from Italy and my mother’s zucchini bread recipe

I liked posting daily on this blog back when Italy was in lockdown. It was comforting and familiar and kept me in touch with many of you who live in lands far, far away. The posts reminded me of filling the purple cloth-covered diary I had as a kid that locked with a little metal key and of the long letters I sent home when I was living outside of the US for the first time as a student at Oxford. That was before smartphones and Facebook, before Gmail, when staying in touch meant buying an expensive phone card at a local store and waiting in line at the porter’s lodge to use the one available payphone on campus to call home. I wrote a lot of letters that year.

But since lockdown ended and Italy began to open up again, my posts have begun to feel pointless. I’m reminded that it is remarkable how much time I have spent in this house with the cats this year, and that yes, these are extraordinary times. I often have that weird feeling that comes before hurricanes and tornadoes, or say in the middle of a global pandemic, that rush of anticipation and excitement and fear in the face of immense uncertainty and possible danger.

The news that consumes me now is much bigger than these concrete walls. The cats and I are fine, Roberto too, but is it safe to travel? When will we have a vaccine? How long until I can return to the US to see my friends and family? Is the US protecting the health and safety of its citizens? What about the health and safety of the planet? What about the health and safety of humanity for that matter? Am I doing my part? What about my part to support Black Lives Matter? And what happened to truth and fact and science? Will Trump get re-elected? Did a sitting US president really contemplate canceling the US presidential elections? On Twitter? Will he find a way to undermine the election and delegitimize our democracy altogether? Were there really secret federal police in unmarked vans kidnapping citizens off the streets in a US city? Is democracy strong enough to withstand this? What are we doing to make sure that it is? What can I do?

I am part of the silent majority. I rarely talk about important issues publically. I can do better. When did we all get so vocal and quiet at the same time? Not to mention airbrushed and meme-ed and broken down into easily digestible sound bites. Why don’t I write about the things that matter to me for a change? I haven’t really done that since I was a graduate student that felt compelled to study human rights.

But meanwhile, it’s hot and like I said the cats and I are fine and Roberto too. We’ve weathered the pandemic well so far (knock on wood) even if I’m on summer break and writing a long rambling post that has almost nothing to do with food on my random food blog in a hot kitchen in Rome instead of enjoying an aperitivo with my mom in the backyard of our farmhouse in Vermont.

That’s the real weather today in the banner above. The heat has begun to slip through the windows and the temperature is rising in my pandemic dining room office. We don’t have air conditioning. Time for a break and to open the doors.

As this is a food blog, how about I redeem my rambling with my mother’s recipe for zucchini bread in her handwriting? I made it earlier this week and made it Italian by replacing the sour cream with goat milk yogurt and by using olive oil and local zucchini.

Fried egg on a bit of piadina for breakfast. A salad with tuna, avocado, and yogurt for lunch. I ate inside by the fan as it was too hot for the terrace. Roberto went into the city and I am hoping he comes back with dumplings for dinner. Fingers-crossed.

Eat well. Stay safe.

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