Haggis nachos. I remind you (if you are a vegetarian, you may need a stiff belt of alfalfa tea before continuing) that haggis is "...a savory pudding containing sheep’s heart, liver and lungs, minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, and mixed with stock, then cooked in a sheep’s stomach for around three hours." Many cultures have similar delights: in Greece I was once served a traffic accident on a plate and politely pushed it around with my fork for 30 minutes and smiled. I was promptly offered the coup de grȃce—two sheep's testicles. In various parts of Italy, there is a "savory" soup called zuppa di soffritto (sautéed) or "strong soup," a highly seasoned stew of pig lung, trachea, heart and skin, but I am pretty sure I have never seen all that as a pizza topping in Naples. In Scotland, however, you can now get a haggis pizza, for I also found this:
Part of Cosmo’s (Cosmo Products Ltd, in Newtongrange near Edinburgh) luxury range of pizzas, the haggis pizza is the UK’s only retail haggis pizza and it is topped with the famous Macsween haggis...
The photo (above) shows one of Cosmo's products. It even has an image of Robert Burns on it, rendered in Haggis! The Scottish Bard's Address to a Haggis may not be as succinct as Dante, but here it is—at least the last verse (of eight).
|Ye Pow'rs, wha mak mankind
And dish them out their bill o fare,
Auld Scotland wants nae skinking ware
That jaups in luggies:
But, if ye wish her gratefu prayer,
Gie her a Haggis!
|You powers, who make mankind
And dish them out their bill of fare,
Old Scotland wants no watery stuff,
That splashes in small wooden dishes;
But if you wish her grateful prayer,
Give her [Scotland] a Haggis!
Does this mean war between Naples and Scotland? Probably not, but I draw the line at peanut butter.
p.s. Friend and pervert Peter H. suggests the equally appetizing Balut pizza. A balut is a developing duck embryo that is boiled alive and eaten in the shell.
(Aug 5) I may decide to give up my car in a few months; it's too expensive and old—like some persons I could name. With the money I save, however, maybe I'll get one of those new-fangled unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones: 4 rotors, weighs less than 25 pounds, and you can put a camera on it. Local prices start at about one-thousand euros, although you can get a mini-drone for a lot less. Comes in a small box, ready to fly. Give it to your kid and tell the cat to hide. (The store is about one block from my house!) In any case, drones are big business now in Naples and, in Italy, in general. I noticed a company called Sky Drone Service in Quarto (near Naples) that advertises a wide range of services for drone photography and videos, from sporting events to natural catastrophes to general advertising spots for TV. So, I suppose we'll be seeing a lot more shots like the one in the photo, above. It is a frame from the Sky Drone Service promo video and shows the Egg Castle and small harbor of Borgo Marinaro. Small drones are also fine if you just want to mess around. A kid on Ischia took some nice shots of the island that a local paper then featured. That is off-site at this link. You don't need to be able to read the small paragraph in Italian; just click through the 14 or 15 shots. (p.s., Italian has taken over the English word "drone" to refer to these gizmos. If you mean 'drone' as in the male honey bee, Italian has two words: fuco and pecchione. In Neapolitan dialect, it is apune. In Sicilian, bàfaru. Don't get me started. But since I'm already started, in Basque it's erlamando.) [related item here]
(Aug 9) The 67th Locarno film festival is currently going on. One of the films being shown is Sul vulcano (On the volcano), about Vesuvius, Naples, fatalism, and the social and political connivance (the director's term) that continues to accept—and even promote—living in an area that is at such risk (photo, right!). (See this link for a history of recent eruptions. Also, the area near Vesuvius is the most densely populated in Europe!) The director of the “docu-film” is Gianfranco Pannone (b. Naples, 1963). He now lives and works primarily in Rome. In the past few decades he has gained international recognition as a maker of documentaries. His general focus has been on Italian culture and socio-political struggles and often the connection between Italian and American culture, illustrating what the "American Dream" has meant to Italian society. (For example: his "American Trilogy": Piccola America (Little America, 1990), Lettere dall'America (Letters from America, 1995) and L'America a Roma (America in Rome, 1998). He favors what he calls an "investigative, human" style of documentary, as opposed to, say, Michael Moore's approach-- "interventionist, expository." Pannone is very much in the tradition of Italian Neo-Realism; indeed, he cites directors such as Roberto Rosselini and Vittorio de Sica as among those he admires. That is, he likes to set up a complex historical background (the 'docu-') and then tell stories through the lives of ordinary people (the '-film'), and let viewers draw their own conclusions. The film will be in Italian cinemas in September.
That was how I started an article about the gardens of the Mortella of Susana, Lady Walton, many years ago. (You may read the rest at this link.) She was a delightful woman, always mock-horrified that many foreign visitors confused the name of the gardens, mortella (myrtle), for mortadella, a type of Italian pork sausage! She was energetic; I remember her running—and I mean running—the groundskeepers through a fire-drill one fine morning during a particularly dangerous dry spell on the island.) Lady Walton passed away in 2010, but the gardens continue, as do the musical activities that are associated with them and with the life of composer, William Walton. La Mortella used to keep as mascots a couple of goats that delighted young visitors to the gardens. Those animals were unfortunately killed by stray dogs that got onto the grounds. The good news is that they have been replaced by a private donor, whose daughter was upset that the goats were gone. Three Tibetan goats are now on the grounds. The director of the gardens says that the donor refused payment and simply said, "It's enough for me that I can walk into this enchanted place and take my daughter to see the goats. She loves them."
(photo: P. Raicaldo, A. Vuoso, la Repubblica)
(Aug 9) And speaking of... (many Neapolitans, not to mention, Strombolians or Strombowlers or just plain Strombol-people may blame me for this because I was talking about volcanoes and that'll do it!)...the island volcano of Stromboli is now erupting again. Stromboli is the northernmost of the Aeolian Islands, a group of some seven islands north of Sicily. Some of the other islands also have active volcanoes, including the appropriately named isle of Vulcano. The volcano on Stromboli is ominously nicknamed, simply, Iddu—Him!—by residents of the island. More here and here. There are only abut 400 residents of the island, a number greatly down from a few thousand many decades ago; they didn't leave because of the eruptions but largely from economic crises that made it very difficult to ply the fishing trade. They were (and remain) used to these eruptions. In one fashion or other, this effusive (as opposed to explosive) volcano* is almost always active. This particular time around, however, seems a bit more spectacular than most recent ones. It is summer and the cruise ships from elsewhere in the Aeolians are crowding around for a look-see. The Italian coast guard is busy trying to keep them back.
[* for more on the different types of volcanoes, see this link.]
* The whole western coast of Italy is a land of legend. Camerota supposedly derives from Kamaratòn, the name of a particularly hard-hearted local girl who spurned the love of Palinuro, himself--Aeneas' helmsman. Venus punished K. by turning her into the rock upon which the city of Camerota would one day be built. Poor Palinuro, imagining K.'s image in the water, threw himself into the sea and followed the vision all the way down to his death, thus fulfilling the prophecy that before Aeneas could land on the coast (to found Rome) a member of his crew would have to be lost.