Sunday, 25 December 2011

Christmas in Italy

Having moved country three times in less than three years I would like to think that I could accumulate enough knowledge on what takes place in the transition stages to minimize any major sets-backs or stresses.  Perhaps next time.  Sigh. We did not obtain our much-needed Angolan visas in time to go to England for Christmas.  We will also miss the flights we booked to make the journey from London to Luanda.  And the movers took everything away nearly two weeks ago.  Hopefully the mistakes we made this time are more a testament to the red tape and beaurocratic processes of Angola/Italy, than to our inability to learn from our experiences.  Perhaps after 4 international moves you become savvy.

At any rate, we are in the NH hotel for our Christmas holidays, which is the building next to our now packed-up and empty apartment.  This isn't so bas as we are in our "hood" surrounded by friends, the Sporting Club, and the play ground.  And the hotel is actually a residence with a small kitchenette, two bedrooms and two bathrooms - not hard living.
In fact, we are the only people residing in the residence during the holidays (queue long creepy talks about The Shining).  We have a special key to operate the lift, as there is no staff in the building.  Yesterday Marcus rang to say he was downstairs and needed me to come let him in.  I told the gals to run down the hall to the elevators (as there is no one else here) and operate the lift.  As they were running screaming down the hallway, a shrieking and giggling gaggle of blonde children, Evie shouts: "Emma, DO YOU LOVE ME???", Emma: "YESSSSS!!! WOO- HOO!!!", Evie: "I LOVE YOU TOOOOOO!!!!! DON'T LEAVE ME EMMA!!!!".  It is moments like that that moms live for.  We are not stuck anywhere.  We are always at home wherever our family is.

Christmas Eve night we were invited to the parents of our friends Francesco and Federico, who have children the same age as ours, as well as a beautiful newborn.  Babo Natale (Father Christmas) happened to sneak in and leave some presents for the children and we had a great time watching them open everything, running around like wild beasts and playing with a train set.

Our host, Anna, gave us a wonderful Italian culinary feast.  The longer we live here, the more we are bewitched by Italian food.  Like true ex-pats in who can't get enough, we were taking photos of each dish (see below).  What is so different about Italian food?  Italy is a pretty big place and each region brings its own gastronomic delights, but from what I can tell, it is simple, tasty and healthy.  Well, mostly.  Nothing Anna cooked last night would be considered simple.  And I am certain a cardiologist would not approved of anything wrapped in bacon.  Anyhow, our host is part of some exclusive Italian culinary institute, which I don't know the name of (so it shows how much I know), and the meal was F.A.N.T.A.S.T.I.C.

Today we woke late and enjoyed a lazy morning of Lego, then were off to the Sporting Club restaurant which luckily, cooked a Natale Pranzo (Christmas Lunch) for those of us without ovens, or the desire to cook.  This was followed by a sleepy winter's nap and a frenzy of Skype calls, a ton of Bellini's, and here we are.  We will wrap up today with an Italian version of a Muppets Christmas Carol and more Lego.  We are anticipating the arrival of Paul and Jenny tomorrow evening for what will undoubatably be a few days filled with walks in the mountains, Italian food, and Prosecco!  Buon Natale! Auguri!
Eating traditional Italian Pandoro

Unwrapping our traditional Milanese Panettone.  Two cakes in one week.   Feel as big as a barrel....

Kitchen (senza oven, which means less cooking for me)

Children had handmade ravioli with spinach for dinner.

Busy, busy, busy...

Large Italian cookbook.  

Antipasto - Raddicio...oh, I forget.  It was heaven.

Primi.  Handmade ravioli.

Everyone enjoying the meal.  I look like I am enjoying it too much.

Secondi.  Bacon wrapped and stuffed with artichoke!

Dolce.  Semi-Freddo.  Cream and hazelnuts covered with chocolate. 

Mommy's shoes, which didn't fit mommy after dinner.


After Babo Natale

Francesco's head.

Happy people

A treat in art, that equals that of the meal.  A fantastically preserved fresco magically hung on their wall.  A home filled with Roman and Greek Antiques and curios that made me realise how much I have forgotten since university. 

The glowing new mommy with her beautiful baby!

Christmas morning and Lego!

Christmas dinner at the Sporting Club.

Barbie with new Zoo-keeper outfit.  A little on the short side if you ask me.

Gnocci - kids favourite dish.

My antipasto.  Fruits del la mare!