Category Archives: italian

Cose Della Vita, the Things of Life

October 10, 2016

Do you have any songs that define a certain period of your life?  I do.  In fact, if I think carefully about it, there is some music that has foreshadowed my entire life.  I think I might have a soundtrack to my life.  ūüôā

Many, many years ago I used to work at a bookstore.  I needed a job for the summer and I needed to do something while I looked for my first real job out of college.  Lucky for me, it was an Italian-based bookstore and was really beautifully arranged with really amazing photographic art books from Italy.  It made the pain of looking for other work tolerable.  I spent most of my mornings sending out resumes and following up on possible leads.  But in the afternoons, I was able to escape to the Italian bookstore that had a little extra personality and flavor.  Because of its Italian roots the staff was also required to play the music the store carried for sale.  Most of the music was Italian of course, but for some reason they also carried a lot of Cirque du Soleil.  When it was my turn to pick an album to play, I would always play Eros Ramazzotti.  Always.  On repeat.  Over and over.  I had no idea what he was saying at the time, but I kept busy at the bookstore singing along with my new friend, Eros.

Eros Ramazzotti defined 1994 for me.

So, after working a few months at the bookstore, I finally got a call back from a firm at the Chicago Board of Trade.  I started off as a runner in the financial room trading floor.  A few months later I was moved to the institutional sales desk and I was covering trading accounts.  Little did I know that my future husband was also working on that desk at that time.  We didn’t date during our time at the CBOT, but we were friends.  And one of the things I remember most, was that he and I were invited to go see Cirque du Soleil’s Allegria.  We were allowed to bring dates, but I wasn’t dating anyone at the time.  Jeff, ironically hooked me up with one of his best friends Mario, so that I wouldn’t have to go alone.  (I guess he was looking out for me even back then, LOL). And Jeff went with an ex-girlfriend.  Boo!  I remember that I knew all the words to the song Allegria, and Jeff couldn’t understand why.  Well, Italian bookstore.

Life is funny, I would have never in a million years guessed after that night, that I would end up marrying Jeff years later.  I actually believed that he still had a thing for this tall, blond ex.  And I thought I would end up with a Greek boy.  I have never been so wrong in my life…and I am so glad I was.

The story about how Jeff and I finally got ourselves together to finally date and ultimately get married is a long and protracted one and for another time.  But I will say this, many years later when we finally married, we played Eros Ramazzotti at our wedding in Rome.  And I started taking Italian lessons.  I guess that Italian bookstore had magic.

Imagine my surprise when I found out Eros Ramazzotti was coming to Chicago to play a concert. Thanks to my friend T and her friend L, who were also huge Eros Ramazzotti fans, we all planned to go together. So off to the Rosemont Theater we went on October 7, 2016 at 8pm to hear the great Italian rockstar of our youth. It was a full house and he did not disappoint. He sounded exactly how you would hope he sounded live and age only improved him.

So Friday, was a full circle moment for me.   Eros Ramazzotti’s voice, brought back many a memory and a time in my life that ultimately led to meeting one of the greatest people I know.  Eros and I sang all about it together one more time, just like I had all those years ago at the bookstore.

I guess, there is a right time and a right place for everything.  Things happen in life that don’t make sense at the time when you go through things.  I can remember being really upset about working at a bookstore when I really needed a job out of college in my field.  I can also remember wondering how hard it was to find a good guy to date.  And I can remember wanting to run away from it all and get lost in Italy.  But, looking back, it all makes sense now.  And it all happened the way it was supposed to happen.  These are the things of life.  Le cose della vita.

How about you?  What are the songs of your life?



December 9, 2015

My favorite links this week, December 9, 2015.

1. Chalkboards are not just for school anymore.

2.  Neat video about Pittsburgh and bikes.

3. The magical power of dogs.

4.  Wow, Sweden

5. ¬†Trees and people…watch this. ¬†You’re welcome.

6. Next time you’re in Japan

7. Oh, another article about Adele? Why yes.  Why not?

8. I’m learning Italian too.

9.  Tiny Buddha on why we should all practice  gratitude.

10. I have adored Claire Danes since “My So Called Life” and now I can’t stop watching “Homeland”…this made me laugh.

11. If you ever wondered about retired sumo wrestlers, now you know.

12. My husband loves Kurt Vonnegut.

13. I started working out again. ¬†I’m hoping my muscles remember quick! ¬†Ouch.

Vongole…or how everything sounds better in Italiano

March 16, 2015

See these little guys? ¬†They didn’t stand a chance.


Vongole…or how everything sounds better in Italiano.  

Have you ever noticed how some foods sound better in foreign languages? ¬†You could¬†say chicken liver, but doesn’t fegato¬†di pollo sound more appetizing?¬† You could¬†say cheese, but formaggio sounds more decadent. ¬†And you could say clams, but why not say vongole instead? ¬†Except maybe funghi, which is just a funny sounding way to say mushroom in Italian.

I am going to go out on a limb and say that things even taste better in a foreign language too…try it.

What are your favorite foreign food words?

So I got pretty lucky and found the tiniest little vongole, only about an inch or so across and picked up a pound to decorate my risotto. ¬†See how I didn’t say rice dish? ¬†Sounds better no? ¬†Anyway, they remind me of my honeymoon in Positano. ¬†So I couldn’t resist them.

So here is how to do it:

Risotto con Vongole, Funghi e Asparaghi (Risotto with Clams, Mushrooms and Asparagus) serves 4

1 lbs of tiny manila clams or vongole

1 small onion, diced

1.5 cups of arborio rice

1 small bunch of asparagus

6-8 cups chicken stock

1 package of cremini mushrooms

1 garlic clove

1 tbsp of finely grated lemon rind

1/2 cup of parmigiano reggiano


olive oil and pat of butter

1 cup of white wine (half for risotto, and half for vongole)


First thing I like to do is my prep work or mis-en-place, sound less like drudgery right?  You are catching on.  I start by slicing my mushrooms and sautéing them in a pan with a pat of butter and a small bit of olive oil.  I like to get them a nice toasty brown.

Next, wash and trim your asparagus.  Cut into about 1 inch pieces, set aside.  The asparagus will be the last thing added to the risotto.

While you are finishing the mushrooms, begin heating your chicken stock until it comes to a simmer and keep it warm while you make this dish.  You will be adding warm chicken stock a 1/2 cup at a time as you make the risotto.

Next, dice your onions and sauté them in the pan in which you plan to make your risotto.  Once the onion has softened add your 1.5 cups of arborio rice and toss around until very lightly toasted.  Add 1/2 cup of white wine.

Once the wine has evaporated begin by adding your chicken stock a 1/2 cup at a time.  You do not want to add the next 1/2 cup of stock until the first has been absorbed by the rice.  Using this method will help cook the rice properly and obtain the right creamy consistancy.  The whole process of adding stock, stirring until absorbed and then adding more should take you no more than 20-25 minutes.  Risotto is one of the easiest dishes to make, but it does demand that you babysit it during this time to ensure it becomes nice and creamy.  Taste for salt and pepper.  You will want to salt at the end, just in case your chicken stock was salty enough.

Once the the arborio rice is almost to that al-dente stage (meaning not mushy, but toothsome), you can take a little side pot, place a splash of oil in it.  Once hot, add the vongole that you have rinsed first to the pot. Stir around, add 1/2 cup of wine, one finely diced garlic clove.  Place the lid on that pot and let it steam.  After 2-3 minutes you will want to check on your little vongole to see if they have opened up.  Once they have opened, they will release their own juices and be ready to eat.  That sauce it amazing!  You can add that sauce to your risotto right at the end.

To finish, add your lemon rind, parmigiano reggiano, mushrooms and asparagus to the risotto.  Add your final 1/2 cup of chicken stock and stir until absorbed.  Serve in a nice little bowl and decorate with your vongole.  Buon appetito!  

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