More Prose from Venice...
Food, fog & other fun!

Some more from the pre-blog "oldies but goodies" department, from a year and a month ago today... I hope you enjoy!

Thanks as always!
Ciao, ragazzi!

Blech, I've caught a cold. But it was worth it... Went to see the sixteenth-century play in Venetian dialect, "La Venexiana." It was done by a company which specializes in a strange blend of Renaissance and commedia dell'arte plays with experimental theater. Most interesting, eclectic mix I've seen in a long time. In fact, the stage was probably not much bigger than my office, and the theater sat maybe 100 people. Unfortunately, while I can manage to read centuries-old Venetian, I can't follow it too well in conversation. I understood maybe half of all the dialogue.

Still, it wasn't that complex of a plot... I'd never seen or read the play before, but it turns out that it's a total sex romp. Two Venetian noblewomen (who instead were in actuality among the most legally circumscribed in all of Renaissance Italy) fall in love with the same recently-arrived young foreigner, and race to have him first. All in all, probably no worse than Machiavelli's "The Mandrake Root," except somehow I don't think the original production involved frontal nudity, though...

Anyway, these days fog has descended upon Venice, making the whole place look like one giant impressionist painting. It's particularly surreal at night. You know how Maine all looks the same color when it snows... the ground, the sky, the air... all white? Here it all looks like smoke... and at night the waterbuses glide slowly across the lagoon into this strange void, and buildings and boats seem to appear at the last moment like ghostly apparitions. So, what do I do? I stand outside to soak it all in, and catch the dreaded cold. Ah well, I guess it's all part of life's rich pageant...

We're back with my husband's folks, since our renter has returned. Fortunately (or unfortunately), my mother-in-law is still cooking up a storm, even though she no longer has to entice us to stay. Mostly, I think, it was a result of the disastrous "Duck à l'Orange" on the 26th... In an extremely rare move, she tried to cut corners by getting a rotisserie duck, and then adding her own sauce. By the time it was all reheated, though, it had become " Rock à l'Orange." Now, I don't know about you, but I've had my share of culinary disasters... However, this is a major part of her identity! So, to compensate, we first had a wonderful stuffed pheasant with (my favorite!) fresh artichokes on the side the moment we got back, and at the same time she improvised a fantastic quiche with spinach, ricotta, and prosciutto for lunch the next day, since she wasn't going to be home in the morning because of a doctor's appointment. (In the same case, I personally just stop by McDonald's instead... but then again, I'm not a domestic goddess!)

Yesterday, on the other hand, we had an invite for lunch with my husband's uncle and aunt, at which was served a stuffed capon cooked by the mother-in-law's Ukrainian live-in nurse. The only place I've ever seen a capon before was in my previous incarnation as a medievalist, in manorial dues' documents... You know, something like "peasants will deliver unto to the lord two capons each Michelmas," or some such!

And now that the Christmas sweets are slowly fading off the scene, the Carnival pastries are available. Mostly fried, sugared stuff, not unlike New Orleans beignets. Since carnival ends with Lent, traditionally they had to get rid of all the lard by that time, and they were likewise encouraged to get their sugar ya-yas out beforehand. Mmmm!

Each day, fortunately or unfortunately, there's food we can't possibly refuse. I don't know what I'm going to do! Oh well... I guess I'm just going to have to study it closely and try to cook it for you all when I get back... It's a tough job, but somebody's got to do it!!! :)

Hope you all are doing well! Check in when you can... :)
A presto!
(January 10, 2005)

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