thinking about clams

Venice is one of those cities, like San Francisco and Stockholm, that I slipped into so easily that coming home felt wrong. Even the greenly dank smell of the water didn't worry me. I accepted it like the little flaws you secretly like in someone you love. Evading the crowds who trod heavily round the same few streets, the pleasures of getting lost amidst the back streets were heightened by the frequent discovery of a tiny deserted church with a centuries old fresco. I dreamed of training in fresco restoration and spending my life there. Sitting quietly with a prosecco in a neighbourhood square, watching the life move around us, we talked of how easy it would be simply not to go home. 

But for all the many good memories I have attached to Venice, surprisingly few of them are culinary. Some of the most disappointing Italian food I've eaten has been in Venice. There are glorious exceptions. Plates of cicchetti served in little bars full of raised voices and crowded with office workers. Gefilte fish eaten in on the canal side in Cannareggio. Little polpetti that were so hot and fresh that we burned out mouths in haste and greedy hunger. And the best spaghetti al vongole. There were no tomatoes or chilli - just a lot of garlic and wine and a soft, leafy green that lay across the clams like a little blanket and melted on contact with your tongue.

Listening again to this programme, I determined to celebrate all things Venetian with my own tribute to that vongole. Chard will be my leafy green, and I'll use a heavy hand with the garlic and the wine bottle. And there's a bottle of prosecco in the larder from the days when it was actually spring - hurray! It's so cold and grey here that a little feast is just what's needed. What are you cooking tonight?

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Reader Comments (7)

I'm ashamed to say that last night I had toast and hot cocoa. Tonight though -- tonight! Friday night! -- I will make myself a little pea, mint, lemon, ricotta tart to eat all on my own. Husband will be out for the evening and does not believe in eggs for dinner, so the timing is perfect.

And then early to bed. Have a wonderful weekend, Kate :)

May 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnna
toast and cocoa sounds heavenly! but then that ricotta tart .. that sounds sublime. I must try something similar ('does not believe in eggs for dinner' that really makes me smile). Happy weekending to you Anna, hope the skies are beautiful xxx
May 5, 2012 | Registered Commenterlittle house
It's always best to avoid those popular streets. I hope your vongole were superb. Tonight I am in the mood for pure simplicity and believe I will try Paul Bertolli's cauliflower soup.
Hi Denise, the vongole were good but I had to keep my focus on the plate not my memories. This cauliflower soup sounds quietly delicious and is going into my recipe file for those nights when I want a supper to please myself.
May 14, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterlittle house
I should tell you that I did not love the soup, but it must be me because it seems the rest of the world adores it...
Your words are so beautiful, I love your blog! I know the feeling of slipping some place on like a new skin all too well.
May 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersally
Denise, you make me think again about the soup as I sense we have a similar palette. Sally, thank you! I'm hopeless as I blush at compliments as if we were in the same room. I love yours about slipping on a new skin...maybe that's why I have that itch to travel. Looking for a new skin. hmm....
May 22, 2012 | Registered Commenterlittle house

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