I was over 6 months pregnant when I last went to Rome. I was viewed as an oddity as 44 years ago I never saw any pregnant Italian women . We were staying with Colin's Aunt and uncle who lived just off the Via Cristoforo Colombo. Aunty Kay said that it wasn't usual for Italian women to be out and about the way I was, travelling on the buses and trains and eating out every night in the local restaurants . I was watching the very pregnant Victoria Coren on Only Connect last night . It reminded me of the near purdah of the Italian women and of the Laura Ashley tents I used to wear when I was enceinte .
Now ,what I will always remember from La Roma 1974 beside learning to say due Birri for then we still did have the occasional uno, was the wonderful food . Aunty Kay and Uncle Edgar took us round ruin after ruin, and spouse and I trailed round fountain after fountain ourselves, we did Villa Julia and got blessed by Il Papa on Easter Day in the square before San Pietro. BUT we ate out nearly every day at all the places where the locals and their bambini ate .
For all the years since 1974 I have grown tomatoes , grown them in all the greenhouses of my life, grown them on all the allotments of my life and in all the kitchen window sills of my life .
Except for this year.
The lovely food in all the Roman cafes , trattoria, pizzeria and restaurants , AND in all the Italian cafes , trattoria , pizzeria and restaurants in my UK food journey have all depended heavily on Tomatoes , garlic and herbs. In my much used Italian Vegetarian Cookery book I have made Spinach and Rice pies, Onion Pies, and all sorts of Frittatas , but try as I can , they are never interesting enough without some dish of tomatoes, homemade sauce , salsa, salad or just ketchup from Mr Heinz. My store cupboard groans with tins of Chopped tomatoes, Whole Plum tomatoes and tomato Puree. As hard as I try, I can never grow tomatoes as well as anyone else on the allotments. A friend is always calling by with bags of his , my allotment partner grows them well enough without even trying. Mine were a disaster last year so Ive not grown any at all this year. Two have seeded down by the Asparagus, and are doing really well all on their own .
Now we are not able to do much at the moment and I'm really ready for a break . I know you say well you have been up the Rhine this year, spouse was not well all the time and I had to act as a Cooks Tour guide to get us to Amsterdam and from Basel on Public transport so Im ready for just a change of scenery . I'm not grumbling , I'm ready for a little break after our busy August of visitors and the increasing emotional strain of visiting my aged parent whose mind is leaving her.
So yesterday we had the small boys for the day as parents were both working and we had to take them with us to Scarborough so that we could go the Building Society .
Five years ago I wrote about another day at the seaside, This year was so much easier. Small boys still loved the ride on the 120 bus to Scarborough . They never stopped talking all the time, just as 5 years ago, such a novelty for them , to be on a bus!
Lunch was at our favourite Italian in Scarborough Pomodoro . The boys had been rehearsing their orders to Barbara since we left Filey . They did have good practice at our very own Filey Italian we call Bella a few weeks ago when their cousins were staying, but this was sans parents and lunchtime. They were hungry ,not tired after a days romping on the beach , and rather more grown up than they had been a fortnight ago, as they'd just returned from a week in Andalucia .
I have been waiting for a Melanzane parmigiana for 2 years. In fact I've not eaten any Olive Oil for 2 years, but now that my system can take fat again I had been waiting for this Pomodoro Moment . I make this dish frequently , and have perfected the oil free version , but really it is nothing like the real thing when the aubergines have been fried not grilled as in my fat free version .And made by a good Italian chef it bears no resemblance to what is served in the Italian Chain eateries . Lunch took ages , we were enjoying everything . The cafe was full of locals , tables were chatting across to tables, and everyone was happy. Nothing was left on plates, huge icecreams and meringues and dolce were eaten by Colin and the boys , and I had my usual Double Expresso . If you are reading this at Filey Surgery my spouse assures me it was a one off and we have Diabetic Icecream in the freezer for his Sunday Birthday .
Our day out just went on and on . We took the advice of an Artist and Gallery owner at the next table during lunch and went down a few dozen yards to Blands Cliff to see the Murals . I have lived near Scarborough for 25 years and did not realise that these wonderful Murals started in 2001 were even there . The boys loved them , of an age to appreciate , and well used to Galleries and paintings they were fascinated. I thought I was the only person to have dreamt up the idea painting of Hokusai waves with a local landmark in my Teaching days in Bridlington , when Liz Smith and I were Island hopping to Japan with Year 6 (Flamborough Light being our Fuji), but no -Nothing new under the sun .
Kingston upon Hull is to be the next City of Culture. I hope they get lots of Artists to do murals round Whitefriargate, it could sure do with livening up . I loved the Hackney ones, and the Brighton Ones.
Blands Cliff is very steep, so we planned to go up to the top another way , and walked along past the sands to the Cliff lift , in itself a good 80p worth for small boys working out how it worked. Reuben had not finished with Culture however and said he would take us to a gallery of great paintings near a statue of Queen Victoria. We couldn't work out where he meant, we'd taken him to the Scarborough Art Gallery many times and the Rotunda but no! he said ,it was just at the top of the hill. He meant the Tracy Savage shop, whose prints on Birthday Cards are sold in Filey at the Red Box. Children accompanied only by Adults it said, but it was only to stop touching the pictures , no rudey nudies.
Home now and thinking about a simple day out with small boys on the bus with Pizza for them from a Real Italian , pictures to enjoy and discuss , and the whole day rounded off watching Episode 11 of our only purchase, with assurances that they were allowed. The Pick- a- sweet option in Choice News was offered and refused, they just Dr Who'ed in happy silence.