Italy does influence you after having soaked up the lifestyle... In this case, our love of Italian Millefiore honey for breakfast. Typically, a quick breakfast for me is some Frosted Flakes, skim milk and a bunch of blueberries--heart healthy, tasty, sweet, crunchy and fast. After all, as a 64 year old guy helping to get his 11 year old son ready for school, mornings can be a real rush. Sometimes not in a good way.
Italians also like their breakfasts, but they are always much smaller than ours. No bacon, eggs and toast and coffee.... they like it light, simple, quick and sweet. In fact, most working Italians have theirs standing up in the local bar/tabacchi (more coffee/snack shop than what we know as a bar)... a quick espresso and something dolce--like a cornetto or a pasticiotte pastry--and they're on their way.
I do make my own pasticiotti usually once a year (a sweet pasta frolla crust with vanilla custard filling). And although for breakfast, I'd love to have an almond filled cornetto (my favorite), I've never made one, and there are no Italian bakeries in the hills of Pennsyl-Tuckey where we happen to live. So, with the influences of Italy driving me, once in a while I come up with something really simple that reminds us of the tastes and lifestyle of Italy.
We first fell in love with Miele di Millefiore (honey from a thousand flowers) in Tuscany and became engaged with it by the time we traveled in Puglia... now at home, we are married to it. We ate our supply in Italy before coming back home, so Lisa ordered a bunch of jars from an importer. Fantastico!
I never really liked the pungent, gloppy, stickiness of American honeys. Those little golden bear bottles that you drizzle into a cup of herb tea when you have a cold--good enough for that, at least. The texture on my tongue was off-putting and the taste was OK, but nothing like Millefiore. The first thing you notice about millfiore honey from Italy (I tried one from Germany... way too harsh!) is the thick texture. It's more like a jam than honey. The colors of these types of honeys in Italy vary, from beige to yellow to orange, red, purple, brown and gold, depending on what type of flowers or trees the bees are working on (wildflowers, like in millefiore, chestnut trees, acacia trees, oranges, lime, etc.). The next thing is the taste. It's nutty, sweet but not too sweet like some jams, and very smooth on your tongue. Lisa describes it as creamy. When you put in on any warm bread it melts a bit... As it enters your mouth it melts further. The creaminess envelops your palette. Delizioso!
So when you're being rushed in the morning, there's always a way to think and live Italian and tell yourself, "pour espresso from the Mokka, now... something bready, something sweet, bagel and creamcheese.... naw... where's the millefiore? What fruit do I have to top it off? Si! Mangia bene!", even if you have to take bites while you're standing or running around getting an 11 year old's lunch box ready, stuffing his backpack with an art T-shirt, cash for Pretzel Friday, his permission consent for the class trip, and last night's messy homework... oh, and that's right... gotta drive him 'cause the bus driver has been late all week...
(Grabbing the bagel and honey as we go out the door...)
Ahh... la vita è bella.
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Copyright, Jerry Finzi, Grand Voyage Italy, All rights reserved