There are noises here.
I heard people say they hate them.
If you walk into the pathways between bushes and trees, the first sound is the almost deafening one of cicadas, orchestrating a simultaneous undertow of a two-note song. There are many birds chirping. Far, in the distance, there is the verse of an animal I cannot tell what it is. And if you listen closely enough, you can hear the waves crashing against the promontory, invisible but present.
Our clothes, rubbing against our bodies. Our breath, getting discreetly heavier as we climb up.
Then, there are the smells. Honeysuckle, mallow, cluster pines, wild mint and lemon balm. And hundreds of bushes of Scotch broom.
Some people say they hate it.
But this is my paradise and, in the midst of apparently nothing, every small detail is enlarged to the size of a mountain.
Beauty exists. Sometimes it exists because it is inevitably there, and sometimes it exists because we decide to see it. Still, choosing beauty is always a personal decision.
I have been feeling powerless. Sometimes it is nice, just like when you feel powerless in front of the grandness of the ocean, or the size of the Alps. But sometimes it is just the feeling of actually not knowing what to do, and this is how I have been feeling lately when opening all forms of media. I long for sceneries like these in the photos, and I wish for a world that we are probably not ready for yet. I wish for our only feelings of powerlessness to be as great as those in front of beauty. When you feel that you can do nothing – not even think – because there is actually nothing to do.
This, I learned, is meditation. This is clearing your mind of trivial expectations, judgement and fear that those expectations will not be met.
Our world is going through a dark tunnel – socially and politically. While it is nice that everyone has their own opinion on everything, sometimes I feel that, sometimes, sharing one’s own opinion becomes imposing it. It happens often and it happens without us realizing it.
So I prefer to open newspapers, books and magazines and keep Facebook shut, and carefully select my sources of information.
Saghar from Lab Noon has always been especially sensitive about the subject, so she organized this #summerVirtualPotluck4Peace to send a message of togetherness and enlightenment. This is my favorite way to help share awareness on anything: a potluck with friends. You need to talk about things you believe in but there are ways that work best for each of us.
The truth is that I feel powerless in front of what goes on in the world. But I want to join those who will say something about it, and sharing a little bit of light is all I can do now.
So we went out for a real picnic in the San Bartolo, here between Marche and Romagna, and captured the essence of our beautiful, bare powerlessness, which I can now offer to you through these photos, that I hope you will find as pretty as I do.
I never shared a panino/sandwich recipe before because I thought it would be too simple, until I found myself searching the web for interesting pairings. Panini are a huge part of the Italian summertime, and this panino is vegan and so, so tasty. I love adding blossoms and petals to everything lately, as there are so many growing here. If you’re making these panini to take out for a picnic, pack the ingredients separately and assemble on the spot. Prepare a nice basket, blankets and pillows, and go out in the open. Or ‘al fresco’, as Italians would say.
The pickled onions are from Karen Mordechai‘s beautiful new book, Simple Fare.
- FOR THE PICKLED ONIONS
- 1 cup good white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 50g sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 medium red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- FOR THE ROASTED PEPPERS
- 2 large yellow peppers (green or red are also delicious)
- Pinch salt
- 4-5 basil leaves, julienned or finely chopped
- Extra Virgin olive oil
- Drizzle of balsamic vinegar
- FOR THE PANINO
- Slices sourdough bread (your favorite!)
- Pesto (use vegan pesto if vegan)
- Roasted Peppers
- Pickled Onions
- Dried tomatoes preserved in olive oil
- Arugula and wild arugula blossoms
- A few pretty mallow petals or other wild flowers
- ADD ONS: a good chevre or pecorino, or avocado if vegan
- Prepare a clean glass jar that can fit all the ingredients.
- In a pot, combine the vinegar, salt, sugar and bayleaf and heat, stirring, just until the sugar and salt have dissolved.
- Add the onion slices to the jar and pour over the warm pickling liquid. Top with the bay leaf and let cool, then refrigerate for a few hours before using. Keeps in the fridge for several days.
- Add the peppers whole to the rack of an oven, preheated to 220 C˚ / 430 F˚. Roast, turing every now and then, until completely cooked through. The peppers will release moisture and they will turn very soft. Roasting could take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes, so check often.
- Once very soft, take them out of the oven and let cool. The skin will come off easily, so peel them, cut them into 1/2 inch strips and remove the core and seeds.
- Add the strips to a shallow dish, and toss with the basil, salt, plenty of olive oil and a good drizzle of balsamic. These peppers will also keep in the fridge for a few days.
- If taking the panino out for a picnic, I suggest packing the single ingredients and assembling them on the spot, as all the ingredients are kind of moist. Use good quality or homemade sourdough bread, so the slices will be delicious even if not toasted or if they have been left out for a while, as sourdough bread tends to stay soft for days.
- Layer all the ingredients to your heart’s content and dig in with friends! Aged goat cheese or pecorino go wonderfully with this combination of ingredients, but a little avocado will do magic if you want to keep things vegan.
And here is the full list of all the participants and all their amazing recipes! I so wish this potluck was real life :)
Saghar Setareh / Lab Noon: Persian Cucumber & “Sekanjebin” Summer Drink
Adventures in Cooking: Strawberry rhubarb pie ice cream sandwiches
An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Spiced Green Beans with Olive Oil and Tomato
Brewing Happiness: Healthy Southern Baked Beans
Cloudy Kitchen: Earl Grey blueberry pie
Cook Til Delicious: Cold Sesame Peanut Noodles
Delicious Not Gorgeous: No Mai Fan
DisplacedHousewife: Strawberry Scone-Cakes With Fresh Orange Blossom Whipped Cream
Donuts, dresses and dirt: Tahini Pavlovas
Floating Kitchen: Blistered Green Beans with Apricots and Chive Blossoms
Ginger & Toasted Sesame: Walnut Bread with Boursin and Prosciutto
Harvest and Honey: Chasing Summer (drink)
Hortus Cuisine: Panino with Roasted Peppers, Pesto & Arugula
On The Plate: Sriracha Scotch Eggs
Ruby Josephine: Halwa d’Tmar (Moroccan Date-Stuffed Cookies)
Tasty Seasons: Grilled Mojito Chicken
Tending the Table: Roasted Cauliflower with Pine Nuts, Parsley and Currants
TermiNatetor Kitchen: Strawberry Shortcakes with Gluten-Free Yogurt Biscuits & Mint Whipped Cream
The Little Epicurean: Halo-Halo (Filipino Shave Ice Dessert)
This Mess Is Ours: Simple Tomato & Avocado Salad
Twigg studios: roasted beet leek and feta quiche
Vermilion Roots: Tofu Salad with Spiced Peanut Sauce
Wood and Spoon: Strawberry Almond Skillet Cake