I was raised calling it vacation. We would pack up our station wagon with the faux wood panel siding and vacate to somewhere that took days to get to. All six of us piled in and we had our unofficial assigned places. Mine was in the very back with the flip-up, booth style seats that faced each other. A bonus was the electric rear window that lowered for some fresh exhaust as we motored along. Thanks to all the summer football camps that my Dad worked at across the country, we managed to visit quite a few States, even if a lot of it was seen from the inside of the wagon.
These days, don't ask me how, I've begun to call it holiday. That's what all the Brits and Euros call it and it just rubbed off I guess. Madonna called it a holiday way back when and she is American and also from Michigan so I have to wonder how it happened to her? I still make myself say vacation from time to time: never forget where you came from.
The point is, I got out of Berlin for one whole week and it was lovely. I went to my little, cheap, on the beach, pre-season Ibiza hideaway. I brought my own coffee because theirs isn't so good and I basically did nothing all week except bed to beach to bed again. A much needed respite away from event planning and cooking.
If I lived in Arizona I'd definitely get pulled over for proof of citizenship because I am now nice and brown. I guess I would be pulled over pre- tan as well, for that matter. I digress... anyway, I spent many hours in the sun catching up on some reading. There was the terrible book I bought at Tegel before boarding, the entire April issue of Vanity Fair, two of my favorite food mags and one of those miniature versions of Elle for good measure.
It's those two food magazines that I want to tell you about. They get delivered to me (a huge treat in itself) and when I'm busy they often are neglected, sometimes only a quick leaf through. BUT when I'm on... vacation... they are savored front to back.
La Cucina Italiana, a subscription that my Mom gives me yearly, keeps me connected to the real stuff. These recipes are authentic. The features about Italy are informative and capture that Italian magic. I believe the magazine got a makeover a couple of years ago and is really beautifully laid out with nice photography and without any pretension. I get a lot of inspiration from this magazine and so should you.
The other is Cook's Illustrated. I have to admit, I was slow on the uptake with this magazine, the majority of it is in black and white, for god's sake. Finally, by unseen forces that are working for the greatest good, I was given a subscription from a close friend's Mother. As a self taught cook, I cannot tell you how helpful it is. Everything You Wanted to Know About Cooking but Were Afraid to Ask... a better title in my opinion. In this May & June edition alone you get the low down on the three types of Miso, a trick for perfectly charred, seared tuna steaks,three ways to skin a clove of garlic, the recipe for the ultimate chocolate cupcake (and believe me, they wouldn't throw that term around loosely), the perfect boiled egg, how to "map" your broiler, a vinegar fly trap and a delicious sounding empanada recipe that is explained in so much detail, even an Arizona State Trooper couldn't get it wrong. (couldn't resist)
Me and my Mother,1971. Somewhere on the way to California.
Photo: Alberto Fracassa