God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Imports/Exports Parker Style

The prevailing thought regarding treasures to bring home from bella Italia involves:

Wine-of course,

Olive oil-newly harvested/cold pressed,

Ceramics of all kinds—mostly expensive,

Pashmina-a cashmere stole,

Leather—jackets and purses,

Spices—for pasta and bruschetta,

Art books—where to stop? and

Pictures by the thousands.

But, eventually the draw of all these things fades or at least becomes resistible—except, maybe, for olive oil and ceramics.

When we returned after our wonderful year there, we not only brought home less than we filled suitcases with on previous shorter trips, but for the most part what we brought was slightly odd. Let’s see there was:

00 flour—the key to light, crisp fried vegetables

Forno paper—similar to our parchment paper but better and cheaper

Sheets—far nicer and comfy than Bed, Bath and Beyond

Shoes—wonderful sport shoes, not sexy Salvatore Ferragamos

Coffee candy—espresso filled

Tomato seeds—Sicilian and others

Band aids—they actually stay on through a shower

Odds and ends—that remind me of our home there as I use them at home here.

Memories—magical slideshows at unexpected moments.

Ceramics—a beautiful bowl that graces my kitchen

Plastic wine stoppers—everyone wants one, far better than the fancy ones.

Gifts—for friends and family

Pictures—by the thousands.

Oh—yes!. We did have one very big, major, expensive purchase--one that gives constant pleasure and not a moment’s regret.—an exquisite, painted for us, ceramic table from Florence. We had eyed these for years and so decided to take the plunge.

So, what’s on this year’s export list?

Powdered sugar in a shaker—Casey’s request for pancakes

Forno paper—I love it

00 flour—yummy veggies

Wine stoppers—from the Saturday market

Shoes—maybe another pair of sport shoes

Pictures—by the hundreds (it’s only 2 months this time)

Memories—to last until next time

Oh—yes! Another big, major, expensive purchase—a round table to match last year’s acquisition. It will make our back yard complete. The butterflies, bees, dragonflies and lady bugs that grace it are from fairy tales.

And then---what are we importing?

Pancake flour for Casey’s friend Tommaso

Ziplock baggies for my friend Nicoletta

Surprises for Sara

Oven gloves for Casey’s friends at La Cantinetta di Ragnana—with scenes of San Diego

Treats and party favors for Casey and Camilla’s big birthday party

English books for Casey’s Italian friends

Gifts for others of Casey’s friends

Chocolate chips, liquid vanilla and brown sugar for much sought after cookies


Actually there is one suitcase with nothing but gifts and “stuff.” Do you suppose we will fill it on our return? Give me your odds.


Judith in Umbria said...

I don't know about you old folks, but I bet Casey will come back with a LOT of stuff!

Jane said...

Old folks? And of whom do you speak? Casey would most like to come back with Camilla. In lieu of that, it will be gromiti and ?

anne said...

Wow, I love that table, no wonder you couldn't resist it! And I never would have thought of bringing back seeds. Thanks for the idea - tomato seeds will make a brilliant gift for my mom.

Jane said...

There is usually a booth at village markets where you can get seeds--of all kinds. Time of year may be important.

Anonymous said...

Jane, have a wonderful time in Italy!
Hope to hear from you while you're there.
Enjoy all things Italian that you love.

Jane said...

Chiaro, thanks! I kind of think we will. I may blog--depends on the connections. I don't have the patience to sit in internet spots.

Barbara said...

Oh Jane, I already have a list for things to take back to the states! Dried Porcini, triple stregth tomato paste in a tube and I'm even thinking about taking back a small wheel of parmesan! !

Chiocciola said...

Very cool list! I also have certain things that I bring from Europe, and others that I bring over there... I'd love to get the name of those bandaids, I always have blisters adn seem to go through about 30 a week since they always fall off!

Jane said...

Barb, how do you use the triple strength tomato paste? I've always wondered about that.
Erin, I don't know the name but will let you know. They are really good.

Anonymous said...

That table is to die for. What a great purchase that you can enjoy daily! Have a wonderful trip!
Barb Cabot

Chiocciola said...

Thank you! Also, I forgot to say: HAVE A WONDERFUL TRIP!!! I know all three of you will just be so happy to be back.

Jerry said...

Jane your table is amazing! One of these days . . .

BTW - you can buy those tubes of tomato paste here. I just pick them up int he grocery store (they ar eimported from Italy). I like them because often I just need a small amount of paste and it is a waste to open up a can, even a small one.

Have a wonderful vacation. I look forward to reading about your adventures.

Jane said...

Thanks, Jerry. I have a one of those tubes but never knew when to use it. I also have a garlic one.
Yes, we really, really like the table and can't wait to get the round one. When are you coming to SD?

girasoli said...

Hi Jane, great list! Casey must be bursting with excitement by this point. Good luck on the packing front. Why is it that it is always such torture? Have a magnificent trip!!

Diane said...

Beautiful table Jane!

We just arrived in NY yesterday, with only two suitcases, and one of them was half filled with an empty duffle bag for the extra stuff we plan to bring back. We brought nothing but our summer clothing and a bag of ciambella (hard pretzal-like bread) that someone had given us to bring to NY for a relative. Usually people give us espresso coffee to bring to people here, and often people ask for parmesan. We DID have a request for as much olive oil as we could carry, but last year's harvest was bad and we may not even have enough for us until November when we'll harvest once again.

I haven't forgotten about our meeting in Montepulciano! I'll email you this week. Enjoy ITALY!

Jane said...

Girasoli, (I know I know your name but my mind is a blank.) Yes, packing is not fun! You get to do it soon.

Diane, OK. You have inspired me to sort through today and pack less. I know we have too much but, then, we are going for 2 months :). Can't wait until we see you--actually, I can as that means our time there will be about over.

girasoli said...

It's Susan :)

Jane said...

Why yes! I remember now, Susan!

Palma said...

Buon viaggio. How exciting that you will have another matching table. We stopped into your shop when we were in Firenze last month. They even had a ceramic BBQ counter. Who knew?

Bring back soffrito bullion cubes from the COOP!

Jane said...

Grazie Mille, Palma. I would love one of the barbecues but, unfortunately, do not need it. Of course..........