We are still in Italy enjoying the beauty of this amazing country. It has been a bit more than a week since we left Holland for this sunny part of the world. We have been camping the whole time and because I truly dislike cooking in camping situations Cyrille has been doing most of the cooking. I don’t need a fancy kitchen to prepare a decent meal, but I really dislike cutting vegetables on a cutting board on my lap, or having to look for that bag of rice that’s in one of those plastic bags somewhere either in the car or in some corner of the tent. I don’t come from a generation of campers, like Cyrille and many other Dutch people do, and I sense that there is probably some hidden pleasure in these camping rituals(like the pleasure of constantly having to go down to where the water is to fill our bottles) which still escapes me. Nevertheless I do see the advantages of sleeping in the open air, visiting countries at a fraction of the price of renting a house or hotel, having the freedom to pack up your tent and a set it up somewhere else whenever you like, and even of cooking using simple ingredients and simple techniques to prepare nice meals. Having said that I do think that if I were more of a camping creature I would have done more cooking and cut down on some of the expenses and other disadvantages of eating out regularly.
The problem with eating out regularly here in Italy has to do with the amount of oil and salt that seems to go into the restaurant food, the unlimited and exclusive use of refined flour in almost every dish and as a result the feeling of lack of true nourishment that I feel after one to many meals at a restaurant.
However, the temptation to participate in the eating culture of this country is great. The Italians seem to be passionate and have great pride in their food, which makes the restaurant scene have a seductive and competitive edge to it which is hard to resist.
Walking through the streets of Rome or Florence as well as through the hidden narrow streets of small medieval villages it’s impossible to escape the power that the food has on the identity of this country. Streets here often seem like museum galleries in which one restaurant after the other exhibits foods rather than paintings and offers its personal interpretation there of. Food here is beautiful, the smells, presentation, colours, seasonings and freshness all contribute to more than the sum of its parts, nevertheless I do ask myself how can a culture survive in good health with so much refined flour and grains, and such amount of oil and salt in their diet. It seems hard to believe that the beautifully sculpted body of Michelangelo’s David would be result of the modern day Italian diet.
This morning I got up early and put on a pan of wholesome unrefined barley on the fire. Its light brown colour may not be as exciting and glamorous and may not even be picture worthy, as the Italian creations, but I am so looking forward to it!
2 cups of soaked barley
6 cups water
a pinch of salt
a bit of rice milk
a drizzle of rice syrup, maple syrup or honey
-put barley and water in a pan and bring to a boil, then lower the fire cover the pan and use a flame deflector
-cook until barley is soft
-served drizzled with syrup and with a bit of your favourite milk(I had rice)
of course you can enrich this porridge with your favourite nuts and raisins. I opted for simplicity because I didn’t have nuts or raisins and because simplicity is what my body was craving