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01 May 2012

Boccole with Asparagus, Guanciale & Tomatoes and The Village of Ceri (Part 2)

Communicating whole sentences without uttering a single word is possible if you live in Italy. 

Italians are animated conversationalists accompanied by the innumerable gestures that the language has.  When I just moved here, I loved to step back and watch how the conversations flow by watching the gesticulations.  You can understand what is being spoken about from how the hands, eyes, shoulders and heads move (strongly aided by voices that can be heard from far, far away). 

Gesticulating is a part of the language.  Not only was there a verbal language to learn, but there were also the gestures to remember.  I thought I would never learn them but apparently, they come out naturally.  Yes, I am a bona fide gesticulator and when I am outside Italy and speaking another language, I wish I had a straitjacket to stop gesticulating.  No one would understand the need to use the body to communicate and there are some things I cannot express anymore without using gestures.

I was once in Prague with a kindergarten classmate who moved to France with her husband and kids.   They have adapted to the French ways just like I have adapted to the Italian ways.  And if you are familiar with the French and Italian ways, the difference is like black and white.  Reserved and animated.  Quiet and loud. 

After repressing my gesticulating for days, I met some Italians and had a normal animated conversation for once, with the help of the hands, shoulders, heads and eyes.  It was strange but I found comfort in using body gestures again. 

Fast forward.  

You must be wondering what these pictures are.  They are another batch of pictures I did of the ancient village of Ceri, which I recently wrote about in this post.  We went there again two days ago and I thought I of sharing what I captured while walking around the town. 

Windows, doorways, family emblems and door knockers are some of my favorite subjects to photograph while traveling.  Every country has its own distinguishing character that makes every one of them unique and beautiful.   And they also leave you wondering how old some are.  Each has a story to tell and has seen so many generations of people passing through them. 

While in Ceri, we witnessed a simple and heartwarming wedding ceremony of an old couple renewing their vows after 50 years.  The small square was filled up with family and friends in a jubilant mood.  How often do you see marriages reaching the golden years?

After a full day of staying out, a big plate of pasta was what we needed to end the day.  Guanciale and tomatoes are always in my fridge and asparagus is the season's crop so I usually have them too.  Putting the three of them together was a perfect choreography of flavors.   Love is the only word I have for it.   It was the theme of day. 

Have a good week!

Boccole with Asparagus, Guanciale & Tomatoes

Serves 4
  • 400 grams boccole or any short pasta 
  • extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 150 grams guanciale (or bacon if you cannot find it), strips 
  • 250 grams asparagus (weighed after taking away hard ends), chopped to short pieces, about an inch (separate tips from the rest)
  • 425 grams canned tomato pulp
  • 8 cherry, grape or datterini tomatoes, quartered
  • grated pecorino 
  • parsley, chopped finely
  1. On high flame, in a saucepot, bring some water to a boil. When it boils, add the salt then the pasta.  Cook them following the number of minutes suggested in the box or until al dente.
  2. Meantime, while waiting for the water to boil, sautè the garlic and guanciale in a large saucepan with a small amount of extra virgin olive oil.
  3. When the garlic turns golden, discard it.  
  4. When the guanciale are toasted and crunchy, take them away from the saucepan and set them aside.  If you see that there's too much oil in the saucepan, adjust the amount by discarding the excess.  It depends on how much the guanciale's fat runs.
  5. Add the asparagus, putting first the harder parts.  Cook for 5 minutes then add the tips.  Cook for another 5 minutes.
  6. Add the tomato sauce.  Cook for about 30 minutes on low-medium fire.  If it's drying up a bit, ladle some water from the water you are boiling for the pasta.  
  7. When the pasta is cooked,  add to the sauce.  Mix well for a couple of minutes then turn off the fire.
  8. Add the guanciale, fresh tomatoes, grated pecorino and parsley. 
  9. Serve while still hot.