Peru: Hanging in Lima, Part 2

What? An ancient pyramid in the center of town?

Huaca Pucllana

Huaca PucllanaYup, Lima has one right in Miraflores district.  On my first visit to Lima in 2010,  I stayed across the street from this marvel;  this time we were a few miles away.  Built in terraces, the adobe and clay structure dates from the fifth century.  It now serves as an archeological museum and one of the top restaurants in Lima.  Nope, I didn’t eat there, but I did enjoy other culinary delights.

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Eating Out in Buenos Aires: Where’s the veggies?

In the 1980s, Wendy’s famous ad campaign asked “Where’s the beef?” In Argentina, they have plenty of beef, lots and lots of beef, as well as pork and lamb. The question to ask instead is “Where’s the veggies?”

Carnivore’s delight

When eating out in Buenos Aires, finding a vegetable other than salad (arugula, shredded carrots, avocado, and tomatoes) was a real challenge. A typical menu would have several types of grilled carne (beef): Bife de Chorizo, Ojo de Bife, Bife Angosto, Bife de Costilla. I never did get them straight. If you didn’t specify jugoso (juicy), it was always done medium-well. Most portions are generous, big enough to share. It’s a matter of national pride. You’d often see the big parrillas (grills) with men cooking large amounts of meat showcased on the street or in an open window. Their local rock stars!

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The Sicilian ice cream sandwich

Sciacca, SicilyOn my recent trip to Sicily, I was determined to visit Santa Ninfa and Partanna where my grandparents were born.  At the last minute, the agriturismo we had booked in Santa Ninfa cancelled our reservations (they were having serious mechanical problems) so we decided to stay in Sciacca, a small fishing village that was a reasonable driving distance south on the Mediterranean coast of Sicily. Continue reading

Yellow is the Colour of My True Love’s Hair — Pine Pollen Season in the South

pine pollen coating Working in my yard this weekend, pulling weeds and mulching the flower beds, I found myself humming this old folk song “Yellow is the Colour of My True Love’s Hair”. Not because my love’s hair is blonde in the morning (it is salt-and-pepper all the time), but because EVERYTHING was yellow, dusted with a thick coat of what my botanist friend calls tree sperm.

Pine pollen — we all more or less hate it. Everything looks dull. It clings to all surfaces; cars seem to be a particular magnet. With a small gust of wind, you can see it billowing in sulfurous clouds of gold. Despite our general annoyance — guess what?  Pine pollen is supposed to be good for you!  Seriously.
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How To Be a Good Dinner Guest: My Top 10.5 Rules

Holidays and entertaining go hand in hand. Over the next few months, there is a good chance you’ll be invited to someone’s house to celebrate. Most likely they will serve food. Lucky you… it means that you will be a dinner guest!  Dinner guests
I’ve thrown many dinner parties myself, been a guest at dozens more, and participated in a slew of pot-luck dinners. Here are my top 10.5 DOs and DON’Ts for dinner guests. They fall in the realm of common sense but they are definitely worth repeating.
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Figs: In Honor of My Grandparents

My fig treeIn 1993, I transferred jobs within IBM and moved from New York to North Carolina.  Not only did I find a much better work environment, I found a better hardiness zone for growing plants. As soon as I bought a house, I planted 2 fig trees in honor of my grandparents and all the Italian immigrants who struggled to grow figs in the northeast.
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A Different Thanksgiving Meals-on-Wheels

This is a step-parenting horror story that became one of our family’s favorite anecdotes. I remember it as our Thanksgiving Meals-on-Wheels. My boyfriend/future husband and I had been dating for over a year and had spent much of that time doing group things with some combination of our children…his 5 and my 2. This “memorable” Thanksgiving was the first holiday in which we both had our kids with us, all 7 of them in an age range from 7 to 17. We were thrilled to spend it together as a blended family and didn’t foresee the problems ahead.

Peanuts Thanksgiving
Peanuts Thanksgiving

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