Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Boxing Day Amalfi-style

Today in London there was a natural phenomenon that caused my eyes to hurt and made everything look colourful! I hear that such an occurrence is usually called sunshine, by those who know...!


The daily kitchen chat today consisted of landlord and I comparing Mustards. I have 3: Colman's hot English, hot spicy French, and rough hot Derbyshire - a lot for one person eh? But he outdid me with about 5.


Boxing Day - the Amalfi Coast and Sorrento Musical Evening

We went on the classic Amalfi Coast drive with our endearing guide, "Bene bene Cosimo" and his driver "Casanova". I wish I could have captured the lines he came out with.

"Casanova you do not the horrrn when I am talking!"

Although it was a day of occasional spitting rain, the views were stunning and I could imagine how breathtaking it would be on a sunny day...coastal Campania is all about communities clinging to the cliffsides, little villages sandwiched orange orchards and the sea.

We had a little tour of Amalfi. Away from the main streets, Amalfi consists of stairways and split level buildings which face out onto little piazzas. Deliveries are often made by a basket on a rope from whichever windows face the piazza.
After the tour, some of us went into the cathedral of St Andrew. There was a brass band in the main piazza, and apart from that just lots of shops. Overall too commercial for me.

I did enjoy leading Mum out as far as she would go onto the long rock pier. I took in lungsful of the clear sea air. From there we could see a long colonnaded building on the cliff high above the town. Back in the coach, Bene Bene Cosimo said it was a convent that became a cemetary. "The people who go for funeral will cryyyyy to think how many steps they must climb."

We stopped for a lunch prix fixe in Scala, and then the rain just came peeing down but we made it to Ravello. Now this town I liked. I could go exploring on a pleasant day and take photos of its charmingly shabby corners and ruinous housefronts.

Only 3 of us wandered this far in. Mum, the Captain's wife, and me. She slowed us down a bit, as Mumsy and I love a bit of a foray. She remained about 10 steps behind us but we could hear her let off some pretty long and loud ones. I didn't know someone could contain that much gas. Farting for England, she was. Valuable asset for British Gas. If anyone could get us to the moon it would be her. Specially with beans. Put her at the foot of Vesuvius, she could start it off again. She ought to move to Tooting.
Austin Powers would have punned to high heaven on this one. Speaking of which, she could get there on her own.

And after the last one, she called out, "Don't leave me behind." It was all Mum and I could do not to die laughing. What if we'd been slow enough to walk with her?

On the drive back to Vico Equense, we passed by Naples and Pompeii on the autostrada. One view, inexplicably, caused the entire coachload to gasp, "aaaaaah" which an entire day of Amalfi coastline had not. Why? I am not sure, but here it is:

All I know is it's possibly Naples. We'd been listening to the guide for 8 hours and I was tired, so if he'd said anything, I missed it.
It is a large urban area set on a huge plain surrounded on three sides by mountains and the sea on the fourth.


*sigh* Anyway, after dinner, the younger, braver, and more culturally tolerant members of our party went on the Sorrento Musical Evening. Some of them had seen it before and didn't like. I liked it! Not as awesome as Greek Festival Houston, but good enough. The cast played live instruments: violin, guitar, tambourine, mandolin, and castanets. The violinists played nonstop for the whole 70 minutes of the show. The dancers were more balletic than authentic but that was quite pretty. I endured the operatic Italian songs (including O sole mio and Funiculi funicula), but enjoyed the fast folk songs where everyone joins in, and there was a hilarious laughing song in the middle. One of the dancers looked just like me only bigger, and her ears even turned red like mine do! I leaned over to Mumsy and whispered, "That dancer with the short hair's ears have turned red." Mum replied, "Doesn't she look like someone I know." I said innocently, "Who?" She said, "Someone I know!" We repeated those last two lines back and forth until I'd reduced Mum to frustrated giggling. I love setting her off like that :)


MattJ said...

Before I read the rest of the blog entry to do with your trip I can out do you both on the Mustard front!

Dijon Mustard
French Mustard,
I havean Austrian Mustard
Colmans English,
Welsh Chilli and Ginger Mustard
English Whole Grain Mustard

And quite probably more if I give it a further look! :p

Jia Li said...

Woah Matt, thats alot of Mustard.

We just have English and Honey Mustard

Olivia said...

Gosh, Matt, how did you get that much mustard?

Rox said...

I have wholegrain mustard (moutard à l'ancienne) by Maille. Yumm! The best in my opinion and so versatile.
But as for the rest of your blog, it really seems you had a wonderful experience except of course for the mussels. Shame that 'cause they can be sooo yummie. I especially love moules marinière but only usually eat them when visiting my grandmother in Normandy near Dieppe where I can be sure they are as fresh as can be. Fish poisoning can be very serious indeed and often involves more than just one day of porcelain hugging. Good thing it didnt get that bad for you.

Olivia said...

Wow, Rox - yes I know Maille, they are good. Mine at the moment is Wilkin & Sons hot English East Anglian (not Derbyshire!) - and it is wholegrain. Yum. I like the texture and the pop.

That's what I had in 1996, a bowl of moules mariniere, on Mont St-Michel, no less! It was yum, but as you read, I had a reaction to it. This last one in Italy was the last straw.

Thank God I've never had fish poisoning. As I don't eat much meat (despite the veal escalope and 2 pork chops currently sitting in my fridge), I couldn't live without fish.

Jia Li said...

Who doesn't love Fish. I live on an island, it would be abnormal not to like fish. We are going to have fish(most likely cod) tomorrow

Jia Li said...

hey M

M. said...

I used to have a bottle of mustard but that got tossed out with the fridge. I lose in that race. :)

I can see the pictures now! Must be some windy roads to get to some of those houses on the hills?