Some days are just better than others. It's January 23rd. I'm sure I've had some January 23rds that were less than, shall we say optimal. I wouldn't really categorize today as optimal but, as my understating Danish pal says, "it wasn't so bad".
Today I put down the crochet needle and we hit the road. David and I, in the Fiat 500, went on a good ol' American road trip. A beautiful blue sky, a winter chill in the air, Van Morrison on the car stereo. We had nothing but 20 euro and some hopes and dreams....
Yeah.....not really. I had asked David yesterday if he wanted to go to the San Remo Saturday market with me to buy some cilantro. San Remo is 18 km away. A road trip? ahhhhhh....NO. Is that a hell of a long way to travel to buy an herb that grows like weeds in other parts of the world? ahhhhh.... yeah. You see, I had an idea that I wanted to make some shrimp fajitas.
I've just learned to make homemade tortillas. This, after a mere 6 years of whining about how the easiest food possible to make at home was not available in my local shops. So many years wasted!! To make up for lost time, I've been making tortillas every day since I learned. I eat tortillas at every meal. Tortillas with butter and honey for breakfast. Tortillas with cheese (aka: a quesadilla) for lunch. Tortillas with soup, or stew, or chicken or ragu or whatever is for dinner. Tortillas. Yesterday I decided I wanted tortillas with shrimp and cilantro (and a bunch of other stuff that I'll let David worry about to make the shrimp, cilantro and tortillas into fajitas).
So we hopped in the 500 and headed to the nearest place where you can buy exotic food stuffs like cilantro.
Let me explain the San Remo market a bit. First, you have to park a long way away. It's very popular with locals as well as the French, who come over the border (their own road trip, I guess), and any tourists in a 50 km radius. So you park down by the sea (why parking by the sea is free and the most accessible is, as an American, beyond me...) and you walk up into the city center to the market. As you would imagine, or not, if you've never been to an open air market in Italy, there are tables, and booths and stalls of things for sale. If I had to make a comparison to a US commercial institute, I would say Walmart. All these tables and stalls are filled with anything you would want, on the most basic level, and in their cheapest form, mostly imported from Asia (with the exceptions clearly labeled by signs with the italian flag boasting "made in italy", written in English). You can buy pots and pans, pants and socks, scarves and jewelry, fur coats and herbs, t-shirts and jeans and underwear, cds and electronics, sweatshirts and cashmere...all at prices better than you would find in the shops. It's basically walmart if each department was independently owned and set up on a folding table in the town square.
Then there is the food market. Ahhhh the food market. The "walmart" section of the market is only open on Tuesdays and Saturdays, but the food...Monday through Saturday. And it's got shelter. There is an actual building you walk into...where you see stalls of fruit and veg, beans and flour, oil and wine, bread and sweets, and chicken, pork, beef, horse, rabbit, and fish. Anything you could possibly want to prepare the most beautiful Italian meal ever. They are also beginning to cater to the foreign contingent and the more hip of the the young italian crowd who want to cook exotic food like, um, say, Chinese, or thai, or mexican.
So we got some cilantro, some ginger root, a couple limes and a few hot peppers. Mission accomplished. Let's go home.
Then David remembered a recipe he'd recently read on a blog written by a chef he knows in Puglia. "let's get some vegetables," he said.
When we got home, he whipped us up some of this
If you'd like to make some for yourself, here's the recipe.
It has already become a new old favorite, a staple for us. We will eat this dish A LOT. I highly recommend it. And if you can get the veggies from some interesting market, it'll taste that much better. No farmers' markets in your area? No prob, just take a little road trip to the supermarket in the town over...it'll seem more interesting than your own grocery store.
Oh yeah, be sure to serve the dish with tortillas and you, too, will have a not so bad day.