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it’s time to get active again.
September resolutions plans:
Decided to go on a diet. Mostly because everyone is doing it. But also to make a point. Or rather to check if my hypotheses holds against my not so scientific experiments.
And here is the menu from day one
Living in Lebanon allows plenty of opportunities to benefit from multi-denominational fun events. Why, just last week we had spent a whole evening watching fireworks all over Mount Lebanon in celebration of Mar Elias. That went on all night and the next day, and the smell of sulfur and filled the air for a week. All in good fun really, and no forest fires! Well there are no forests left anyway.
And then came Ramadan. A full month of festivities (followed by 3 days of festivities, take that).
How would you enjoy Ramadan? To start with the special sweets, one must eat Kallaj and Hadaf at least once during the month, preferably during the first week when the frying oils are still fresh.
The other thing that I personally enjoy is listening to good old Arabic language well spoken. And that is what you get with at least one of the many daily dramas prepared specifically for Ramadan, namely “Omar“.
It’s a huge production about Umar ibn Al-KhattÄb with historically approved references and plenty of world class actors.
I don’t know what it is about listening to all these actors speaking well rehearsed Arabic that makes me sit and listen. What a beautiful language we have. Too bad it’s being ruined and bastardized by the rest of the dramas of the month!
One thing to ruin the mood though is all the heat, good thing we live in the mountains 🙂
… enough said!
Well, when you see the picture of the “thing” that my friend Simone brought over yesterday afternoon, an exclamation is in order! He had a paper bag in his hand. He said it was a gift from his mother. Nothing I knew about mushroom prepared me for the sight.
Here it is in a pic taken earlier by Pia:
Later that night we prepared the huge mushroom to Simone’s mother’s recipe (thanks!) with some garlic, olive oil, salt and a squeeze of lemon, oh and a steak! DELICIOUS!
Anyone who’s ever worked from home will tell you it’s hard to stay focused with too many distractions all around. Having no children, the only distractions at home for me would be the cat. But we have both learned to respect each other’s space and daily habits, so there’s no problem for me there.
Now, I thought this would change once we came to Italy. I had a goal to work in public places at least once a week since we came here. I have managed to do that a couple of times so far.
The key was being well prepared. I have a couple of extra batteries for the netbook I use (Acer Aspire One). The larger one (12cell chinese made) will stay up for about 7 hours without wifi. With the UMTS/broadband USB key however, I found it will stay up for about 4 hours. The other batteries keep me up for the rest of my 8 hours work day, so I’m covered there.
The other thing to look for is a good place to sit and be comfortable while trying to concentrate on troubleshooting server problems 🙂
I tried doing that at the pitti palace gardens (boboli gardens) last month, but it was too hot to bare. I had to go find another place to work as mosquitoes and other annoying things were eating me up in the heat. The solution then was a nice busy restaurant with good air-conditioning and friendly staff.
The best time I had so far working in public places was at the Piazza della Signoria. The main attraction for tourists in Florence. It’s where you find the free open-air meuseum, the Palazo Vecchio (with the fake David up front) and right around the corner from the Uffizi Gallery.
I found a nice spot under one of the historical statues (not the one with the warrior holding high the severed head of an ennemy). There was a street musician playing guitar (same tunes over and over). And there was a nice cool breeze all day. I completely phased out of my surroundings as I started to work, up until the time when Pia came back from her self-made tour at the Bargello.
I hope I can do that again sometime. Maybe with the nicer weather I could find other interesting places to work at. It’s so nice to work from home, but troubleshooting Linux server issues at a museum is a dream come true!
â€œGalleria degli Uffiziâ€ or The Uffizi Gallery, is one of the oldest and most famous art museums of the Western world. It is housed in the Palazzo degli Uffizi, a beautiful palace in Florence, Italy.
Today, I was very excited about visiting the Uffizi Gallery! It was a dream coming true.
For an art lover, seeing the works of the Grand Masters (Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Caravaggio, Donatelloâ€¦) is actually a big deal. And I have to thank my husband for that
We went in the afternoon, not worrying about the long lines in front of the museum, because of our membership in â€œThe Amici Degli Uffiziâ€. We went to gate number 2, a nice lady handed us our tickets and directed us to the entry.
I was a bit mad because it was forbidden to take photos, and despite that, many couples were taking out their small point & shoot digital cameras and snapping shots secretly. I couldnâ€™t do the same with my 0.703 Kilograms Nikon D90!
We wandered around the rooms and corridors of the Uffizi, amazed by itâ€™s grandeur and beauty, the ceiling frescoes and the large collection of roman sculptures and paintings.
One can eat good food no matter where one lives (in areas where food is available anyway!) So I won’t say the Lebanese eat better than the Italians or vice-versa. Pia and I were mostly eating all Italian in Lebanon and we’re now mostly eating Lebanese in Firenze. Don’t ask me why! 🙂
I like to learn more about how people eat, and what they love to eat in a certain place. In Italy, it seems every area has its own food heritage. Tuscany is known for the great wines and meat-stuff they make. But for some reason we haven’t been able to enjoy this type of food much since we got here.
We did go to Zaza a couple of times (4). But that’s about the best we’ve done so far. At Zaza, I should say, we had some wonderful food: spaghetti with mussels, pizza with truffle sauce and other less interesting toppings (but good nonetheless), beef steak (also with truffle sauce), and of course la Bisteccha a la Fiorentina.
Now, there should be a whole post about that I know, but it should be mentioned. It’s a beautifully piece of steak 10cm thick and very juicy, grilled on charcoal fire. I want to taste it somewhere else before I say if I really like it or not though 😀
We’re also trying another Gelateria every other day. So far so good. I’m loving the panna-cotta, but trying to try something else every time.
The other day we were near piitti palace, it was too hot and we were looking for a place to eat. So we find “La Mangiatoia”, a place we almost missed or dismissed as a macelleria (butcher’s). But I took another look and there was a menu, and a bar where one could stand and have lunch. It looked good enough, and the meat looked delicious. We walked in to find they had a couple of rooms in the back. And the place was filled with Italians having lunch. The food was good, Pia and I shared a primi and secondi and stopped before eating too much to get dessert. Dessert was a panna-cotta and tiramisu that looked small, but was just the right size to enjoy. It was truly lovely. We tried to go there another time yesterday night, but it was closed!
Now most people would be waiting for the mention of pizza. I’m not too fond of pizza really. We had a few good pizzi, but nothing to write home about. Yesterday, we arrived home tired and hungry, so we ordered one large pizza from the pizzeria right around the corner (salsiccia and stracchini). I should say it was very close to what Pia would make at home, so pretty good 🙂
We just had a large serving of gnocchi with pomodoro sauce. Pia made that in about 15 minutes, using ready made fresh gnocchi from the COOP. Very tasty indeed. I wonder if I’ll ever like anything better than my wife’s cooking …
Do we really live under the same sky? Thatâ€™s what I kept asking my husband since we came here!
Itâ€™s really amazing how different the sky looks in Italy. Itâ€™s huge, vast, enormousâ€¦ amazingly beautiful!
Lebanon is surrounded by the Mediterranean from the west, a series of mountains from the eastâ€¦ so the sky is always bound no matter where you look. Here itâ€™s different, wide spaces with mountains in the far horizon and plains extending as if forever. Maybe thatâ€™s why the sky looks larger (to me at least)!
Here are some photos with beautiful Italian skies.
I should take a few more to show you what I mean.