Food Foibles

I occasionally reference my OCD issues. However, now in the grand scheme of things I know I used to have many compulsive habits, but since moving to Italy and adopting the ‘piano piano’ lifestyle many of these compulsions have faded into obscurity. So now I don’t have full blown OCD, just odd personality traits. For example I only ever write in pencil and only ever with a pink one or a Staedtler brand pencil. Friends know my DVD collection is stored in alphabetical order and every song on my iPod is star-rated with the image and the information written up in full, that’s over 24,000 little bits of information meticulously recorded digitally.

So this morning with the iPod in its dock and Blondie singing the 2 star-rated Dragonfly; a a rather pedestrian track from their below par album, The Hunter, I prepared to tuck into my breakfast. Now being English, Sunday morning is occasionally kick-started with a full English breakfast; something my Italian friends don’t understand. (All that fried food in the morning would make many an Italian wince). It was only as the OH was serving up that I was asked, “What’s the rule again with eggs and tomatoes?”

“Am I that fussy,” I respond.

“Yes,” is the come back. I sigh and respond to the question wondering why OH cannot remember the simple breakfast rule. “Tomatoes must not touch the egg.”


I don’t know when this rule came into existence but I have in the past been known to stop eating if my fried egg became contaminated by tomato juices.

This made me stop and think about any other food related habits I must have.

I know that whenever I’m served a meal I always have a forkful of vegetables first before anything else and that I always save a piece of meat for the last mouthful.

Then there’s my cutlery habits. We have two sets of cutlery in the kitchen one set is used if I eat with both a knife and fork, but for meals that require just a fork there’s a different set of cutlery.

IMG_3254So if I’m having a full meal I use the knife and fork pictured on the left of this picture, but if I’m having a bowl of pasta or something that requires no knife then it’s always one of the forks on the right.

Don’t ask why. It’s not rational I know.

Then there’s definite food no no’s, things like don’t lick the yoghurt off the inside of the lid. This practice I see other’s do just makes me shudder, in my world the lid is peeled off and immediately disposed of.

Ketchup has no place with bacon. Apples raw, never cooked.  Malt vinegar only on chips, white wine vinegar is for salads and red wine vinegar in marinades. And heaven help those people who toast a Hot Cross bun, and talking of these Easter treats it has to be butter only, no olive or low fat spread; this said butter is spread only using a butter knife and then buns and sandwiches cut with a separate serrated knife.

Even I think I’m odd as I write these few things about my food related habits.

Happy eating everyone, I’m off to make some lunch. No doubt as I toil in the kitchen I’ll no doubt discover other food related foibles. “Pass me a knife to chop this onion. No not that one, I only chop onions with the brown handled one.”

“What about the black handled one?”

“That’s for carrots and courgettes…”

There’s more eye rolling in la cucina.


The sun is shining, the egg is in the breakfast pan and, Well Worn Hand, one of my favourite tracks by, the Editors, shuffles on the iPod. All is good with the world this morning, but hang about, what’s that shadow? I look outside and there’s a woman wandering down the side of my house, she has a carrier bag in her hand so I assume she’s foraging. The pan comes off the heat and I’m outside with the swiftness I can muster this early on, senza caffe. I try to explain that this land is private property now, but she can’t seem to grasp what I’m saying. I gesticulate, waving my arms like a windmill in a gale and point, “Proprieta privata,” I say, “proprieta mia.” I’m jabbing myself in the chest, hoping it’ll lend some gravitas to my statement. She looks at me with a watery, aged eye and points to my land. “Si,” I say, “ casa é terra.” She shakes her head and asks if all the land is mine. I point to where mine starts and ends and she shrugs her shoulders and shuffles away.

Now part of me feels a little sad that the lady can no longer forage on my land, it’s not that at the moment it’s anything more than may hundred square metres of untamed wilderness, but; and here’s where I stand on the issue. First when I’ve cultivated it, do I want all and sundry thinking it’s a free-for-all in my cabbage patch. – No, and second, these unwelcome visitors always come down the steps onto what will upon completion be our patio and outdoor space. Now I for one don’t want to be having a shower with some old lady popping her head around the window. Or there’s the (remote) possibility I may have the outside door open and be engaged in some bedroom gymnastics, and no unsuspecting field forager wants to see that in the early hours.

So there’s nothing for it, I have to buy a sign. The Italians love their signs, they have them all over the place. Beware of the dog, for sale, for rent, you name it and the houses are plastered with them. So with iPod installed, and Linkin Park, playing With You, I set off for Lanciano, a mere 20km away. I take the scenic route, rather than the direct route as I like the views as the car climbs upwards revealing the lush fields below. I read somewhere that Abruzzo is often referred to as the lungs of Italy. In fact the header photograph to this blog was taken from the road up to Castelfrentano, and later Lanciano.


We reach Ikasa, part of a company called Brico, a sort of hardware cum electrical cum you name it we sell it store. My OH, Dutch heads off to look at wooden kitchen surfaces and I hone in on the signs that are rotating in a display. I flick the carousel round until I come across three signs. One is an A4 piece of plastic with a red no entry symbol and large black letters that shout out Private Property, another is an A4 landscape, blue and white one that simply says Private with a blue no entry sign. I dismiss this one immediately as being too passive. The final one is just 6 inches long by 3 inches wide. It simply says Private and has a small no entry sign. “So, what do you think?” Dutch says, when I walk over, signs clutched in my hand. “Pine or not?” I give him one of my bemused, or quite frankly gormless looks. “For the kitchen.” I’m non-committal, Kitchen surfaces can wait for another day, today is all about a private property sign. I hold up the two I have and ask which he thinks we should get. I’m favouring the bigger one that screams, ‘this is my land so bugger off’, Dutch just points to the small one and says, “This one.” I’m about to protest when he informs me that he thinks the smaller one is more dignified. “But,” I mumble, “the big one will fit on the post and stand out, I’ll have to trim down the smaller one to fit on the post box.” He nods and says, “Exactly,” then turns his attention back to the work surfaces on show.


Back home and with the self adhesive sign trimmed and in position, I mumble to myself as I walk the few metres back to the house, “Just one more unwelcome visitor and I’m going straight back for the big bloody sign, and it’s not up for discussion.”