First of all, the expression ‘Al Fresco’ although they are Italian words, are not used in the same way in Italy. ‘Al fresco’ to the the Italians means ‘in the cooler’ an expression which is the same as the slang, meaning ‘in prison’. If they talk about eating outside they say, ‘all’aperto’ (in the open) or maybe ‘a fuori’ (outside). Strange that an Italian phrase used all over the world means something different in its country of origin. I blame the Americans…I’m joking!
We love eating outside. We can do it here in Italy for probably two thirds of the year. I know the weather has been good in the UK for a while and I’m pleased that all my friends and relations living there have been able to enjoy eating in the sunshine or under the stars, having picnics and barbecues.
Andrea from the Ristorante Re Squarchio put his tables outside about a month ago and we have been there twice already this season. It’s wonderful to sit close to the Tre Archi. This is the triple arched gateway, built of local brick, at the entrance to the old Medieval town centre. They have recently been restored for only the second time since they were built about 500 years ago. At night they are lit up, in green, white and red, the colours of the Italian flag. I always feel a sense of history, imagining the many people entering our town throughout the ages, travellers, monks, nuns, aristocrats, peasants, tax collectors…ooh I think I’ll stop there.
Last weekend in Petritoli we enjoyed the International Supper. All the stranieri (foreigners) living here make a plate of food typical of their country and take it to be offered as part of the buffet. I had intended to make Toad in the Hole but decided the batter would be soggy before it could be eaten so I made Sausage Rolls. Not very adventurous I know but in previous years I have made, Shepherd’s Pie, and a Victoria Sponge, so had to think of something different. Of course I stupidly put on Facebook that I was doing Toad in the Hole, consequently there were some disappointed faces and questions but as they didn’t have a clue what Toad in the Hole was, Rospo nel Buco is the literal Google translation but goodness knows what the Italians would have made of that,. Anyone know the derivation of Toad in the Hole?
This town is not very big, about 2000 people in Petritoli and the small towns of Valmir and Moregnano belonging to the same parish, but 10% of those living here are foreigners and that 10% come from over twenty different countries. The food was brilliant, I always like the Mexican and the Albanian food. The Italians are not very gastronomically adventurous but those who attended the evening enjoyed it immensely and there were shouts of ‘complimenti’ all round. Having said that, the Italian friends we sat with ate the Italian food that they brought with them!
It was a successful evening with entertainment and of course a raffle with some great prizes, I won a jar of olives and a bottle of wine, not quite what I had my eye on but nevertheless a win is a win. Someone else won the dinner at Re Squarchio….(damn them).
Out on our deck in the town we can eat breakfast, lunch and dinner in the sun or shade. The view is stunning and I will never tire of the scene, beautiful Marche countryside rolling down to the sea, with Medieval hilltop towns dotted here and there. Lucky us.
All three bars in Petritoli also have their tables out now. By the photos you would think they weren’t busy but that’s down to the time they were taken. At 6.30pm most evenings everyone is out taking a stroll (passeggiata), stopping for drinks and nibbles (aperitivi) or ice cream, (gelato) Chatting and passing the time of day with each other. It’s a wonderful way of life.