What a Great Find

I’m always happy to discover something new, and walking around Lanciano yesterday I stumbled upon a new gem, a find that made me very happy. It was nearing lunchtime and I spotted a new shop that sold a variety of handmade piade,(piade is the plural of piada).

A piada or piadina is a thin Italian flatbread that is often filled with cheese, slices of meat and even that ubiquitous children’s favourite, Nutella. Situated at the bottom of Corso Roma, just down from the church of San Francesco that houses the Eucharist Miracle is Massi Piada a new shop that enticed us inside out of curiosity.


With 56 variations to choose from on their menu we stood for more than a few minutes deciding what to have. Eventually we decided on one called Tartufata and a crescone, (stuffed piada) called a Torinese.


After we’d ordered we waited as the piade were made by hand and the fillings were cooked to order. The open kitchen means you can see your food being prepared and the high standards of hygiene. There are tables in the shop if you fancy eating in but we choose to take away our hot filled piade when we were handed them presented well in a paper sleeve, meaning there’s been some thought put into the waste and the environment.


The tartufata was filled with melted fontina cheese and mushrooms flavoured with truffle cream and my stuffed flatbread was filled with soft warm potato flavoured with Gorgonzola cheese and slices of pancetta. We sat on  a bench near the cathedral and devoured our lunch with relish. The day had turned cold and the warm potato, cheese and bacon filled bread was welcome and warming.


The menu is extensive and to help non-Italian speakers there’s a printed one to take away that is in both Italian and English. I know now with the exception of the sweet recipes I’ll not stop visiting until I’ve tried most of the remaining 50 savoury ones.


The tagline on their menu reads, ‘Vieni a provare la mia piada. Semplice, buona e fatta a mano’ meaning, come and try my piada, simple, good and handmade; although it was a simple take away lunch it was flavourful and made with care. We were more than happy with with our lunch and I’d say to anyone passing through Lanciano to pop in and give your custom to Massi Piada, you won’t be disappointed.

Massi Piada. Corso Roma 10, Lanciano.

The Parsnip Project (3)

Whenever I mention I’m attempting to grow parsnips here in Abruzzo, it seems the professionals come out of the woodwork. So far I’ve been advised:

1. The reason they don’t grow here is because the earth is too stony and the roots split. I find this difficult to believe considering they grow beetroot and carrots without too many problems.

2. The Italian’s don’t grow parsnips because they take such a long time to mature and they’d rather use the land for faster more productive crops. This I can half-believe, but the orto’s around here are filled with maturing fennel for such a long time that it negates this argument.


3. Parsnips don’t grow in Italy and this is apparent by there being no traditional recipes that contain them. I agree with the lack of parsnip related recipes, I can honestly say that I have never come across a Piemontese parsnip pesto or a Calabrian chilli and parsnip sugo, but that doesn’t mean the vegetable wont grow here. The growing conditions in middle and northern Italy are ideal for parsnip growing; I do wonder if further south it may be too dry and hot. This said though, I can hardly see the seed sitting below ground and vehemently denying to germinate just because the soil surrounding it is Italian.

So I now have my two newly painted black, half oil drums in situ on the orto in readiness for filling and eventually planting up should my parsnips germinate. The other barrel has three potato plants I have chitted from a Alfred Bartlett potato I smuggled into the country from the UK during my recent trip over.


Should the toilet roll method fail, I have enough seeds to do a second sowing direct into the barrel at a later stage.

In cucina con…

Today as I sauntered through the book department of the centro comerciale, in Lanciano, I came across the recipe-slash-celebrity-cook-book section. The Italian’s have their fair share of these books fronted by a smiling chef promising you easy ways to prepare wonderful dishes. As I studied the covers, I spotted a familiar face. A well known multi-lined, some may say craggy, other’s may say handsome; me, I’m indifferent, face..

The celebrity face belonged to none other than Gordon Ramsay. Now I hear you say, “Well as he’s so popular, his book may have been translated into Italian, it’s not unheard of for best sellers to be…” I’ll stop you there and explain something.

This book was created solely for the Italian market, it’s called, In Cucina con Gordon Ramsay, (in the kitchen with Gordon Ramsay). I flicked through it and all the recipes are Italian styled, carpaccio of sole with olives, pasta filled with proscuitto crudo – you get the idea. At first I’m impressed that he has managed to come up with a new market to plunder, or rather his agent and publishing company did and he just put his name and face to it for extra income.

off on a tangent moment: I know of a professional chef who was employed to come up with a book of recipes, write to text for the book and actually cook the dishes that were photographed for the content. The book was then packaged with a celebrity chef as the figure head and quoted as the author. All the celebrity did was write a 200 page forward and the actual chef got a six word thank you in the acknowledgements. Ghost writing at its worst, the celebrity made a packet and the chef made a pittance.

back to the subject in mind: I was surprised at the Italian recipes, and wondered why an Italian public would buy a book by an English chef when there are a plethora of Italian chefs publishing their own manuals.


Photo taken as a screenshot © unknown

I have to say the book was well put together, the photography was nicely executed and I was enjoying flicking through it when I came to a page that had a recipe that made me smile.

The dish was called, sandwich di patate con salsa pomodoro. which translated is a chip butty with tomato ketchup, as the picture also pointed out. Good on you Gordon.


You couldn’t make it up.

Fellatio (cheap at half the price)

I was walking through town listening to my iPod as usual, Grace Jones was singing, Kicked around, from her, Bulletproof Heart album. I was on my way to photograph a sign that I’d seen many times before but had neglected to capture on my trusty little camera. Now the reason I wanted to photograph it is it appeals to my immature sense of humour. I’m aware that outside of the UK the joke will be lost as the act of fellatio may not be called a B.J. But how can you not smile when you see that they have them at discount prices?


As I was heading back to my car I spotted another sign and this one bemused me. The blue and white piece of card simply said, “Potato lads required.” What is a potato lad, a male teenage made from mash or is he made from chips?100_5476-crop

The iPod shuffles and the Sugababes begin to sing their cover of Hard-Fi’s, Living for the Weekend. Back at the car, I plug in the iPod, gun the ignition and forget all about boys made from potato and just drive