March 5, 2006

8 Marzo 1908

March 8th is celebrated as Women's Day..

The Mimosa flower is given as the first blossom of spring, I will get them from all my market vendors!

Many think of it today as a celebration, giving woman a chance to break loose and get wild and crazy. Posters all over town advertise strip shows for women only, special dinners ....conveying a sense of celebration and parties.

The origins are much more serious, and often we forget!

New York, March 8th 1908.

graffiti in Sardegna

Woman working in a sweat shop in New York City held strikes, protesting the inhumane work conditions. The owners, as a protest, locked the women in the shop.
A fire broke out and 129 women lost their lives, most immigrants, many from Italy.

Contrasting the dinner celebrations, there are also many political gatherings and parades focusing on the importance of equal rights.
Until recently Divorce didn't exist in Italy, many of my friend remember.

Many things still need to be done!

In the words of the late Giorgio Gaber,
" Freedom is the right to Participate!"

Do something!

In honor of WOMEN... a simple menu
My friend Judith in Umbria asked myself and another expat Gina in Torino to put together a menu for the occassion!

In my classes in Florence, I try to teach what I learned from my mother-in-law, Tina Barchielli Francini, a woman with a real passion for life...

Spend more time shopping for food and less time preparing it.

This is my Mantra.

I adore shopping.
I am very lucky as I shop in Florence's San Lorenzo market.
Although times are changing here too, the market is till a source for the season's best.

Building a relationship with your butcher, baker and purveyors of food, be it at a weekly market or at your local chain store, is rewarding.

Ask questions.


Educate yourself

Learn to follow the seasons and learn to cook.. not follow recipes.
Be inspired by the seasons.

Here are some simple non-recipes celebrating Spring..and you!

One thing I miss from America is cocktail hour.. they do have it here now, but not the same. One of my favorite places in Panzano, Oltre il Giardino Trattoria, has Paolo, one of Florence's BEST Bartenders.

He introduced me to Stone Martini's, really on the rocks!. The black volcanic stones, from a beach in Okinawa, are soaked in Vermouth, the drained and placed in the glass.
I have a Vodka Martini, very dry... so no extra vermouth.... WOW

So sit back and relax with a nice cocktail or glass of wine and join me!
Buon Appetito!

a fresh spring salad with mixed greens, fresh shelled fava beans, lovely blue flowers from the borage plant, fresh red onions sliced thinly, all dressed with a fabulous extra virgin olive oil and sea salt.

Young fava beans, raw, served with fresh pecorino cheese cubes ( any lovely fresh jack cheese with give you a similar taste) drizzled with olive oil, salt and fresh ground pepper. No fava bean?Try fresh shelled peas or raw asparagus tips and thinly sliced stems.

Oven roasted Asparagus. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt and oven roast for about 20 minutes. Serve with lemon juice and shaved parmesan cheese shaved on top.

Pear and Pecorino salad, with extra virgin olive oil, salt, shaved parmesan cheese, arugala and toasted walnuts.

Raw fennel thinly sliced and blood orange salad... extra virgin olive oil and salt.

Feel like really cooking?

How about Dario's Roast Beef with yukon gold potatoes with Tuscan herbs.
The potatoes take 45 minutes in a 400° oven, the meat only 30!
Start the potatoes and meat.. then remove the meat. cover it with it's infused oil and let rest. When the Potatoes are done, slice the meat and serve.

Too bad you aren't here. I would just go to Vestri on Borgo degli Albizi..and buy some of Florence's best chocolates!

Something easy and fabulous?
Caffe Shakerato, as done in Certaldo.

Make some strong coffee, here of course it would be expresso.
Put a scoop of vanilla ice cream,not too frozen, in a cocktail shaker and add the hot coffee. SHAKE.. serve in a martini glass with a drizzle of chocolate syrup as decoration.

I do a non-coffee version using Limoncello and vanilla ice cream, a take off on sgroppino from Venice which is prosecco, vodka and lemon sorbet!
I put the limoncello in a blender with softened vanilla ice cream and a splash of milk! The Venetian version is actually whisked by hand and the prosecco adds a little "lift". A fabulous way to finish off a fish dinner...or a refreshing end to any meal!

Or the Perfect Dessert....Panna Cotta!

2 cups of heavy cream
2 tbs sugar
1 package know gelatin

Put the gelatin powder in 1/4 cup of cold water, it will soften and swell up.

Heat, but do not let boil , the cream.
Dissolve sugar in cream.
Put the softened gelatin in the hot cream and stir until the gelatin is melted.

Put the cream in individual molds and let chill.

To serve, hold the mold in hot water and unmold onto the serving dish.
I love to serve Panna cotta with Strawberries that I have cut into pieces and sprinkle with sugar to create a wonderful sauce.
Then drizzle with TRADITIONAL balsamic vinegar!!!

Traditional Balsamic is reduced grape juice aged for at least 12 years.
It is sweet, almost portlike!
A tiny bit goes a long way..and you deserve it!

Spoil yourself a little everyday!


  1. I'm glad you mentioned the Limoncello and vanilla ice cream combo..I am going to give that a shot tonight. :)

  2. I love those olives and pecorino. I bought some pecorino from Sardinia today to make ice cream (at your suggestion!) Will let you know how it turns out...xx

  3. DAvid.. they are fresh fava beans!!1 but green olives..yum!!!
    I hope you bought the fresher pecorino not the aged....

  4. Enjoy the lemoncello milkshake!! one of my favorites..

  5. I love the fact that you mentioned that "l'otto marzo non è una festa / ma è un giorno di lotta e di protesta" (March 8 is not a holiday / it's a fight and protest day – old Italian feminist slogan). ^____^

  6. What amazes me is that it isn't even acknowledged in America!

    Tha Europe remembers an American Disaster and creates day as a memorial.

    But ask a 20 year old Italian girl if she know about the 8th of March and those that died...
    It has already changed!

  7. Don't tell me. In school, (that's almost 20 years ago), I was surrounded by agemates who kept saying that they didn't need to be femminist anymore because they felt perfectly equal. A friend of mine, quite the femminist type, compliane because her partner accepted to be cooking for a social even at their local ARCI place for the 8th so she would have to cook for him or he would turn up empty-handed. I told her that if he accepted the duty and resonsibility to cook for the day, he would be the one shamed by not complying with his promise, not her. 8-/

  8. By the way, I deeply agree with what a teacher of mine said once "March 8th is nomore the celebration of women's freedom, it's the funeral of femminism. That's whey I suppose on that day I will spend the evening baking a cake or knitting at home. I celebrate my women's day every day, except on march 8! ^_______^

  9. Au contraire, Alice, any remembrance day is what you make it. I am one of those women who marched and wrote and taught women's rights decades ago, only to find that many of the new generation don't even know that things were ever different. US woman still earn about $.68 to a man's $1.00. Italian woman can be refused a job if they think of eventually marrying or having a baby. And Italian women see sense in that.
    It's time for young women like you to pick up the banner, because our arms are tired.
    Thank you Diva, for remembering our tragic past and giving us a martini to help us bear up to the memory!

  10. Judith, I did pick up that flag. I picked it up many years ago. The point is that I see a decreasing number of women of my age willing to pick it up. 8-( i am quite discouraged, although the big demonstation in Milano last month helped somewhat. Things were worse before? Sure, but withoiout constant attention things will grow worse again, instead of going better. There is constant talk about limiting further the right of choice for the Italian women, and many just say "Well, I am not concerned, it's not my problem". It's depressing, that's what it is!

  11. I had no idea that the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire was associated with Women's Day, thank you for the info. I watch the PBS documentary every year and I think of those poor young women who perished . Today, we are heading to NYC to visit family, we'll be celebrating the lives of those women.