Still dealing with an annoying case of jet lag brought on by my recent trip across The Pond—one part of my brain holding on to images of Northern Italy, the other part struggling to play catch-up with the real life of Midwest America. And don’t get me started on my wacky sleep schedule, waking up in the middle of the night, full of ideas designed to jump start a day that’s already nine in the morning Italian time, what had been my time for seventeen glorious days. Back in my Central Time Zone afternoon of four o’clock I find myself stifling one yawn after the other, willing my body and mind to stay awake through a comatose evening, at least until that magic bedtime hour of 10 o’clock that should eventually get me back on schedule
It’s all about traveling across those nasty time zones—seven between the generous hospitality of relatives in Italy and the comfortable routine of life in Southern Illinois. Recovery time for the physical aspects of jet lag: one day for every time zone crossed. Recovery time for the emotional aspects: yet to be determined or until my next encounter with all things Italian. Either way, I have a few more days to pamper myself, to procrastinate over self-imposed deadlines, and to make excuses for a disposition wrought with irritability.
I may have left my heart in Italy but I did bring back this awesome polenta pot, a gift from cousin E, who handcrafted it from Piemonte copper and steel, a project that took over eight hours of artisan skills and dedicated patience to create hammered perfection. The long wooden handle, an absolute necessity for executing proper polenta, is carved from ash, a tree prominent in the Piemonte Region of Northern Italy. Okay, confession time. In the interest of proper literary disclosure I do not hold exclusive rights to the copper pot. In other words it really isn’t mine. E made it for Hubby D, self-appointed chief polenta maker in the Giacoletto cucina, a near oxymoron if ever there was since at this stage of his life, he’s not into cooking on any level. Although D has a background in baking, plus bakery and restaurant management, he limits his culinary efforts to the occasional fish fry and yes, the making of polenta. He feels no one, as in yours truly, can stir a pot of corn meal better than he can. I say, “Go for it” since I’m not that crazy about cooking either… although I did return to America with visions of Piemontese and Ligurian specialty dishes spinning in my head, some of which I might attempt to duplicate in the near future.
Let’s see … how many times during our recent visit to Italy did we sit down to polenta? Only three as I recall—once at a roadside trattoria outside of Gran Paradiso National Park, once prepared by E, and once prepared by E’s son, A. All of which makes summer sense since this hardy dish is more often prepared during the colder months. Of course, the home versions taste much better, those mounds of rich, gooey cheese, plus generous portions of butter and whipping cream transforming simple peasant food into that of gourmet extraordinaire.
As for the latest version of Giacoletto polenta, one to be prepared in our new handcrafted-by-E copper pot, that polenta will have to wait until we’ve resumed our normal routine. A day in which the temperature has dropped more than a few degrees, making us feel kind of low and ultra needy, a day that we’ll want to relive a glorious moment in Italian time—seven zones away yet forever close to the heart.