Today our house in Bologna is filled with the smell of cooking. You notice it in particular as you come in from outside. It’s hard to resist filling your lungs and going ‘Yum! What are we eating?’
First on the gas ring this morning was my largest pot, three-quarter filled with cold water, to which I added a lump of beef and a beef bone, carrots, onions, celery and a few off-cuts from a piece of smoked ham.
The secret of good ‘brodo’ (stock) is to cook it slowly, and for a long, long time. As I write it’s been going for about four hours. I’ll leave it for another couple yet before separating the stock from the ‘lesso’ (boiled meat).
This evening’s ‘primo’ (first course) will be ‘tortellini in brodo’, a regional speciality. Tortellini are little ‘navels’ of pasta filled with meats and cheeses, cooked in the meat stock and served with grated parmesan cheese sprinkled over them.
As it’s a special day, there’ll also be a ‘secondo’ (second course) which, at New Year, just has to be ‘zampone’ (stuffed pig’s trotter) served with lenticchie (lentils).
The trotter will be awful to look at (you can see the skin, toes and toe nails…) but it’s incredibly rich and greasy in the mouth, so perfect with the much more spartan lentil dish.
For anyone who’s still got space, there’s the ‘lesso’ of course. Cold, boiled beef is not anyone’s favorite, but it’s nice spread with mustard.
Finally there’ll be the mascarpone that Stefi has made for dessert – it’s already chilling in the fridge, along with a bottle of sparkling wine from the Trento hills (though with the ‘secondo’ we’ll be having a cabernet sauvignon from Imola, which is just down the road.)
So that’s this evening. Once we’ve eaten, we’ll watch TV series on DVD for a couple of hours while waiting for midnight. We have ‘Breaking Bad’ to finish.
Then, just before the clock strikes twelve, it’ll be all outside to celebrate with the neighbors and free-load on their fireworks. I was too busy buying food to get any of our own, but I have another bottle of bubbly and some plastic cups.
What about you guys? Hope you’ll all be doing something fun as well! Do leave a comment on this article to say what, or just to say ‘Buon anno’!
By the way, if anyone happens to be in the Bologna (Italy) area tonight with nothing better to do, shoot me a mail at the address on the site. We have plenty extra for a guest or two and hotels can be lonely places during holidays…
So, I’ll close with a quick reminder of our January Sale, which ends this time next week.
To see what’s on offer, take a look at this page: online lesson options and ebooks organized by level.
The top choice in the online lessons category is the packet of 10 online lessons, normally €150 but currently just €126 with the coupon code januarysale2016.
Turning to e-books and study materials, our best-selling The Tenses You Need To Speak Italian is popular as always, as are the five volumes of our self-study series Italian Workout (find your level in our shop, here and here.)
Personally, I’d recommend stocking up on Italian easy readers, especially at the lower price available with the coupon code ( januarysale2016 ). Each is good for several hours of invaluable reading and listening practice.
Include as many of these as possible in your study program so as to build your reading and listening comprehension skills. ‘Easy readers’ are also a good way of measuring your progress from level to level, which is very satisfying and can help keep you motivated.
So, ‘buon anno’ to you and your family (and to all of the other 4,172 people receiving this article by email!)
Please do visit the site and leave a comment to tell us where you are and what you’ll be doing this evening…
And, as I mentioned, anyone on their own in Bologna this evening, get in touch via e-mail and we’ll see if it’s possible to organize a plate of zampone for you…