Un gusto d’Italia

After a few days of sunshine we have been drenched by heavy rains causing problems with flooding, event cancellations due to waterlogged or muddy fields, and grey skies for photographers.

I suspect that this may have been Thembeka once again, indulging her love of the horizontal line.

Despite all of this gloom I enjoyed a feeling of summer today as I ate my first nectarine of the year.  This peach variant has to be my favourite fruit, the smooth red skin giving way to succulent yellow flesh that is both sweet and tangy.  (I should have had a picture at this point, but once I’ve bitten into one it never lasts for long!).

I associate them with summer for two reasons. Most obviously in the UK this is the time of year when the best are available; get them too early in the season and they are hard bitter, too late and they lose their flavour.  Secondly I always associate them with Italy where they are cheaper, juicier and more importantly much larger than those we get here.  As my favourite summer holidays have all been spent in some part of Italy, the availability of nectarines is part of the rich experience.

There are other Italian flavours that are right at this time of year; the sweetness of tomato contrasting with the milky flesh of a fresh mozzarella, piqued by the sharpness of a few fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of peppery olive oil.  The insalata Caprese is so Italian it mirrors the colours of their flag.

We love to raid a local deli and then lunch in the sun with all of these supplemented by some great salami, prosciutto, pesto, tuna filled pimentos, fat juicy olives and plenty of pane rustico.  (Maybe a scamorza as a change from mozzarella occasionally.) Naturally accompanied by a nice Tuscan red or a chilled Peroni.

All of which goes to say that I don’t hold grudges for last night’s defeat of England at the hands (or feet to be precise) of Italy in Euro 2012.

Today’s portrait is of Kate who I met on the prom.  She didn’t look too down about our defeat either.