I’m writing this from a small village in the Cinque Terre off the Ligurian coast of Italy. It is high season and tourists from all over the world are squeezing themselves into every restaurant in the main square here in the town of Vernazza. Many restaurants are fully booked several nights in advance and although the hills surrounding the town are steep and restaurants located on many levels, requiring you to work for your supper, it does not seem to put anyone off. Needless to say it is unbelievably beautiful. Breathtakingly so. I simply had no idea.
I arrived full of cold which was a real surprise. I can’t remember the last time I was ill and I was starting to think, arrogantly, that perhaps I had been blessed with an unusually robust immune system which defied stress, bad food and the occasional wine binge. How wrong I was. Turns out I am just as fallible as everyone else and that if I skip daily juicing, plenty of water, a wide variety of vegetables and pulses, fats and supplements I get sick. End of story.
Two days of fresh seafood, local veg, copious amounts of tomato salads and bucket loads of olive oil later I am fully cured. A bit of local wine too – from the nearby vineyards. The simplicity of food here is refreshing and delicious. Coming from a motto of ‘more is more’, or, if in doubt add quinoa, this has been a great lesson in sticking to fewer ingredients, well-chosen, and enjoy their purity and flavor. I will take this with me back to the UK and my everyday cooking.
Amidst the cacophony of people, variety of languages, crying children and trains (yes, they do run regularly straight through town and they are NOT quiet) I am finding this place reassuringly peaceful. The cold is a distant memory, we swim in clean, turquoise waters, walk uphill and eat the most delicious food. Sometimes we have to try less instead of more. Simple stuff yet although we all KNOW what to do we sometimes don’t do it. It helps getting a reminder from time to time that this stuff really works – you are what you eat and how you feel!
Ligurian Tomato Salad
2 fleshy tomatoes, sliced and room temperature
Handful of olives (I prefer mine small, black and with a stone in olive oil)
2 tsp capers
1/2 onion, finely sliced
Drizzle with the best olive oil you can afford
Dash of vinegar
Salt and pepper
Ciao and Buon Appetito!