Christmas Around the World

Every year during my childhood, our post box was graced with an 80 page volume of one of the World Book’s Christmas Around the World series, a gift, I think, from my globetrotting grandparents. Although somewhat dated and with some breathlessly misleading information (the Spain entry insists that Spaniards eat loads of turkey for Navidad, but that it’s stuffed with garlic and glazed with olive oil, and the Washington volume seems to describe a city that hasn’t existed for a good century or so, and possibly never did), they’re still wonderful glimpses into the habits of other countries at Yuletide. At the very least they inspire curiosity, which I’d like to think has something to do with why I can vouch for how Christmas is passed in the locales of at least five of the books on the below list. I hunted in vain for a decent list online, and failing to find one, decided to post the below, which I’ve verified with family members who still have the books. I have a few of them in my possession myself (pictured).  It seems the series went on for another decade, till at least 2003, when probably — like so many other good things in the past — someone decided that the internet did a better job with “information.” But those who had these colorful volumes know the truth. A reader who knows the series very well writes in to note that the books “also arrived with an advent calendar, small ornament, and recipe cards. A family could celebrate Christmas around the world!”

  • 1993 — Germany
  • 1992 — Russia
  • 1991 — Brazil
  • 1990 — The Philippines
  • 1989 — Poland 
  • 1988 — Washington, D.C.
  • 1987 — The Holy Land
  • 1986 — Denmark
  • 1985 — Ireland 
  • 1984 — New England
  • 1983 — Spain
  • 1982 — Austria
  • 1981 — The Netherlands
  • 1980 — France
  • 1979 — Italy
  • 1977 — Scandinavia 
  • 1978 — Britain
  • 1976 — Mexico 

Given the paucity of information out there about the series in general, for the completist I’ll add the below list. I don’t actually own any of these (although I wish I had the Belgium one, at least), but these are the fruits of the some internet labor, mainly thanks to There appear to be a couple of duplicates, or possibly some of the copyright dates are wrong.

  • 2003 — Puerto Rico 
  • 2002 — Belgium
  • 2001 — Scotland
  • 2000 — Greece
  • 1999 — Finland
  • 1999 — Australia
  • 1998 — The Phillipines
  • 1997 — Ukraine
  • 1997 — Colonial and Early America 
  • 1996 — American Southwest
  • 1995 — ?
  • 1994 — Switzerland 
  • 1994 — Canada

On Neutrality and Great Powers

From Henry Adams’ Education of Henry Adams:

Minister Adams felt the same compulsion. He bluntly told Russell that while he was “willing to acquit” Gladstone of “any deliberate intention to bring on the worst effects,” he was bound to say that Gladstone was doing it quite as certainly as if he had one; and to this charge, which struck more sharply at Russell’s secret policy than at Gladstone’s public defence of it, Russell replied as well as he could:–

… His lordship intimated as guardedly as possible that Lord Palmerston and other members of the Government regretted the speech, and Mr. Gladstone himself was not disinclined to correct, as far as he could, the misinterpretation which had been made of it. It was still their intention to adhere to the rule of perfect neutrality in the struggle, and to let it come to its natural end without the smallest interference, direct or otherwise. But he could not say what circumstances might happen from month to month in the future. I observed that the policy he mentioned was satisfactory to us, and asked if I was to understand him as saying that no change of it was now proposed. To which he gave his assent….

Minister Adams never knew more. He retained his belief that Russell could be trusted, but that Palmerston could not. This was the diplomatic tradition, especially held by the Russian diplomats.

Let’s imagine Yellen had a personal financial interest in Russia holding on to Ukraine and had made public comments to that effect, and update the passage for these Top Gun times.

Ambassador Oksana Markarova felt the same compulsion. She bluntly told Blinken that while she was “willing to acquit” Yellen of “any deliberate intention to bring on the worst effects,” she was bound to say that Yellen was doing it quite as certainly as if she had one; and to this charge, which struck more sharply at Blinken’s secret policy than at Yellen’s public defense of it, Blinken replied as well as he could:–

… The Secretary intimated as guardedly as possible that President Biden and other members of the Government regretted the speech, and Ms. Yellen himself was not disinclined to correct, as far as she could, the misinterpretation which had been made of it. It was still their intention to adhere to the rule of perfect neutrality in the struggle, and to let it come to its natural end without the smallest interference, direct or otherwise. But he could not say what circumstances might happen from month to month in the future. I observed that the policy he mentioned was satisfactory to us, and asked if I was to understand him as saying that no change of it was now proposed. To which he gave his assent….

Ambassador Markarova never knew more. She retained her belief that Blinken could be trusted, but that Biden could not. This was the diplomatic tradition, especially held by the EU diplomats.

Rebutting Radical Chic…nella Cucina Italiana

In a fit of radical chic, the Financial Times published Marianna Giusti’s interview with Marxist academic Alberto Grandi, in which the latter “debunks” (a popular activity these days) Italian food traditions, most of which are admittedly as new as Italy’s prosperity. It’s not a difficult task to take on if one has read more than online articles or cookbooks published in the last decade, and Grandi is, generally speaking, correct. But he undertakes his task with the zeal most debunking Marxists have, relishing the zingers and gotchas of slaughtering sacred cows. But where’s the beef? A few thoughts below.

Those who have followed Italian food writing for any decent length of time will also have read a few of Giusti’s lines before — but at least she has a roster of nonne and zie to call.

Italy was a poor country before the Second World War — of course no one could afford rich foods loaded with meat and cheese then. Spain is similar, of course, and I was baffled at some of the veggie-free and meat-heavy dishes on offer in Madrid a few years ago. Those of us with octogenarian Italians in their lives know that in the old days everyone just ate beans, soups, root vegetable, and, of course, bread. All the stale bread recipes! And if you don’t, you can read about it a book like La Luna e i Falò where the Piemontese peasants eat that stuff. Even in A Farewell to Arms it’s clear pasta and cheese is a big wartime luxury, although the wine is omnipresent in Pavese and Hemingway both. Primo Levi writes about fantasizing about pasta when he’s in Auschwitz.
My old haunt, Veneto Sud, is still especially strong on the soups, veggies, and stale bread menu. Maybe a few shellfish thrown in near the coast, and of course, polenta, especially the more north you go. Affettati sliced agonizingly thin to make the pork last all winter. Until recently, my Veneta (DOC) mother-in-law had never had a piadina. For my father-in-law, born in 1925, colazione was stale bread and coffee. Brioche? Mai.

It was educative for me to go to rural Balkans (which was still poor two decades ago) before Italy for see what pre-war other parts of southern Europe were like — many similar southern European food traditions, albeit with a Turkish spin, still being practiced. Most remarkable? The fridges were tiny. Not much industrial food to go in them. Basements for cans and bottles, other stuff fresh. A freezer for the annual pig slaughter.

I take some umbrage with the grouchy and puritanical Marxist point of view (also why is FT interviewing a Marxist?) that “everything dear to you is a lie, there are no traditions [left unsaid: there’s only oppression!].” These so-called debunkers are joyless, and I can’t stand Eric Hobsbawm and his quotidian ideas dressed up as something fancy. Married with the FT‘s typical neoliberal ultra-capitalist ideas that we’re all just postmodern blanks slates and life constantly mixing stuff up, it’s even more noxious.

Having said all that, I support syncretic traditions if they celebrate life and goodness. For example, I love Washington’s national mall, even if all the designs are obviously not “authentic” (taking inspiration from the same Palladian villas that dot the Veneto) and it’s a sort of a patriotic Vegas imbued with national character. “Italian” food is much the same and if impossibly rigid recipes in our time of plenty give people what they want, why not? Three cheese chicken tortellini are not to my palate anyway, so I don’t mind someone yelling about the right way to make them.

Finally, as a matter of adopted Chesapeake pride, I reserve the right to jones for at least three items which can’t (or shouldn’t) be found in modern Italy: a proper Baltimore Italian cold cut sub, meatball sub or pizza cheese steak (which I learned when I moved to Italy is a bistecca al pizzaiolo on a sub roll) — although I’m pretty sure all the Italian corner joints, still there in the nineties, are falafel shops by now. But I’ll only eat ’em in Bawlmur, hön.

Long Live the Experimental Pollen

Jon Cook ca. 1994.

Back in 1996, fans of lo-fi music, Crain, and Louisville’s particular brand of homegrown rock might’ve been following Experimental Pollen, a short-lived Jon Cook project.  As it looked like Crain was about to split up, that small community might’ve paid particular attention to what a possible Crain follow-up would be. Experimental Pollen had a pretty mighty presence that summer, with a crack rhythm section composed of Troy Cox (Evergreen) and Will Hancock (Four Fifty Six), but the very few released recordings never really measured up to that lineup, and the band folded as Jon got more interested in noise music and his decline began to inexorably take hold.

However, before all that, he managed to release a 7″ EP on the one-off Gene Rick label (sporting a St. Cloud, Minnesota P.O. box for reasons that remain obscure to me). Essentially a split with New England indie rocker Mike Flood (also obscure), I got my hands on a copy of it recently and am pleased to post the two best solid songs from it, both recorded in “that electrifying spring and summer of ’94.”  I’ll second the electricity.

To cop from the liner notes, “long live the Experimental Pollen!  Happy!!!!”

***UPDATE: I’ve added a couple more Experimental Pollen songs to the playlist so readers/listeners don’t have to jump around the links in the last sentence of the first paragraph.

M&M Enterprise Cooking, Vol. XIX

the feast

Here’s a pre-Thanksgiving Day meal complete with primo, secondo and contorno. I was most excited about the contorno and had been squirreling away supplies from the dining facility for some time for it. The primo, a dish more suited to Italy’s hot summers, came out surprisingly well, and the primo, a simple soup, rounded it out. I liked this meal so much I had it twice yesterday — or was it just that I had leftovers and it was easy to allungare the soup a bit? One or the other, let’s say.

Primo — zuppa trapanese all’aragosta


This one was made easy by Better than Bouillon lobster base. Of course the actual recipe from Trapani calls for catching one’s own lobster and then making decorative use of the claw, but here there’s that whole piddly detail of being 1400 km from the nearest port.

Simply boil water, add a tablespoon of the base, break some spaghetti up and toss it in (correct that breaking is never done, but this is a soup). I added a garlic clove and for the dinner version several cherry tomatoes. You can also put in a spot of tomato paste, or, since I didn’t have that, some tomato passata.

Secondo — roast beef all’inglese

this little piggy had roast beef

Also very easy and made possible by the rare (pun intended) appearance of roast beef at the local sandwich bar. Spread out and arrange the slices, dress with juice of a fresh quarter lemon, good EVOO, S&P, and thin slices of a grana-type cheese (I used grana padano). Cherry tomatoes are a nice addition; arugula usually works wonders, but the dining facility had run out mere seconds before.



Contorno — cavoletti di bruxelles gorgonzola e noci

eat your greens!

I found this recipe when researching how to to do a perfect pasta with gorgonzola and walnuts, and it makes use of both to liven up the kiddie favorite of Brussels sprouts. This required a bit (but not too much prep).

There is absolutely no gorgonzola here, so bleu cheese crumbles have to work.

I swiped a roll from the salad bar awhile back, let it go stale, and then it nicely crumbled into fine dustings of bread crumbs.

Big shelled walnuts are usually around, so I diced up some of those finely. (Leftover crushed nuts go well with yogurt and honey.)

By some miracle, one of the few non-depleted stocks at the Italian PX is butter from Udine. They have gobs of it.

Pre-heat the oven to 200C and use an option that gets some heat from above, as you’ll want a nice crust. (If you have a broiler, broil at the end.)


Prep the above, boil your sprouts, and drain them. As you’re transferring them into Pyrex, clarify the butter in the still-hot pot you boiled them in. Combine the breadcrumbs, cheese, nuts and clarified butter with the sprouts, give them a twist with a spoon to distribute the toppings, and bake for 10 minutes.

Eccola! There’s a pre-Thanksgiving feast worthy of the birthday of the prophet, peace be upon him.

M&M Enterprise Cooking, Vol. XVIII

Ragú Redux

rescued ragù

Ragù. Pride of Emilia-Romagna, the rich, wine-and-broth simmered stuff which is indescribably comforting on a cold, foggy day in the Valpadana. And of course, a testament to its inherent goodness is its bastardization worldwide as “meat sauce” or, in an attempt to put an “authentic” spin on it, “bolognese sauce,” or, even worse, “salsa bolognese,” which is simply wrong since a salsa in Italian is something entirely different. But I don’t begrudge the triers — if I did, I won’t be able to write this post, or eat as well as I have, twice lately.

On “Italian nights” the dining facility (DFAC) makes, of course, “meat sauce” — seems like alloro (bay leaf) and erba cipollina (chives) are key ingredients, based off of sight alone (I haven’t tasted it in its “unimproved” form). What I’ve done is ask for a heaping helping of the stuff which I then freeze and re-do in an appropriately Bolognese way. (It’s hard to get fresh ground beef out here.) I’ve been happily surprised both times.

NB: In our household in Italy, we use mamma’s (and hence her mamma’s) time-honored recipe, which is a little different than the classic ragù bolognese, and it’s on that traditional dish that this recipe is based. As I said before, Veneto Sud has the advantage of being sometimes like Emilia-Romagna, sometimes like Veneto. Best of both worlds.

First, thaw the sub-standard ragù the night before.

Make a soffritto of butter (thanks to the Italian PX, I have butter from Udine), EVOO, and finely diced celery, carrots and onions. (Celery and carrots nabbed from the salad bar at the DFAC, onions bought for me on the economy.)

After the vegetables have softened a bit, add the sub-standard ragù. (In a normal recipe one would add the ground beef and/or veal/pork at this point and brown it.) Mix well, careful not to let it burn since it’s already cooked.

Add some white wine and let it evaporate. This is crucial.

Add nutmeg (Indian stuff, sourced from Amazon — coals-to-Newcastle irony not lost on me) and rosemary.

Add a couple cups of beef broth. I had pre-fab gelatinous cubes from the Italian PX which I added to boiled water, although I’m expecting some “Better than Bouillon” beef base soon.

Turn up the heat a bit (depending on one’s timeframe — I had an afternoon meeting so couldn’t let it simmer for hours) and let the broth boil off. Pay attention to sticking and burning potential.

In the meantime, one should be boiling water, salting it liberally, and putting in some tagliatelle which are the only acceptable kind of pasta to eat with this dish. (Unless one is making lasagne, and one could make an exception for real tortellini bolognese, but one should never add southern pasta forms like bucatini and absolutely no spaghetti, please, never, no.) They should be made with egg. They’ll likely be ready in under five minutes.

Once the sauce is relatively dry, mamma taught us to add a lot of grana padano or parmigiano-reggiano and stir it in. (One can, and should, grate some over the complete dish later.)

Toss the pasta well with the ragù (eliminating this step is also not an option.)

Add more cheese and eccola, one has oneself a meal that at least begins to resemble what’s on Sunday plates all over Emilia-Romagna and Veneto Sud. It might even come close to Trattoria Annamaria on via Belle Arti, one of my favorites spots for cucina bolognese.

And thus plain old dining hall “meat sauce” was reborn, made anew and rescued. One may note that I didn’t add any extra tomato — the pre-made stuff already had enough, and one characteristic is that real ragú usually has nothing more than a nominal dash of tomato paste.

There was a chili cookoff today, and I felt slightly guilty for not going as friends of mine were competing, but I took solace in the fact that ragù is like chili in a couple of ways — beyond both being simmered meat dishes, everyone’s mom has a recipe, and everyone’s mom makes the best version of it.

Here’s how my suocera’s version differs from the traditional one:

No pancetta, chicken livers, mortadella or other salty meaty additive with the soffritto.

White wine, never red.

Grana instead of whole milk at the end.

Thinner passata instead of tomato paste.

Addition of rosemary and nutmeg, which some people have strong opinions about, but I’ve got used to it and quite like it.


M&M Enterprise Cooking, Vol. XVII

Pasta con tapenade e sgombro

Pasta con tapenade e sgombro

It was “Italian night” at the dining facility the other night so I picked up a vat of black olive tapenade, thinking I’d do something with it later, despite the fact that tapenade is a Provençal, not Italian dish, but why not? Surely there is some kind of Mediterranean goodness there to unpack.

I uncovered a recipe at Giallo Zafferano that somehow had all easily-obtainable ingredients — canned sgombro (mackerel), hot peppers, EVOO, garlic, white wine and parsley. As it ended up, I completely forgot a dash of frozen parsley, but with a bit of lemon zest, it was excellent anyway. As usual, high-quality Granoro spaghetti, mackerel and EVOO from the Italian PX made this dish better. If you’re dealing with pre-fab tapenade then this dish is even easier.

Not Espinaler… but maybe comes close?


Put on water for the spaghetti to boil in. When it comes to a boil, liberally salt it. When it re-boils, put in your spaghetti. While this is going on you can prepare the condimento.

Heat up some EVOO in one pan, toss in a garlic clove. While that’s heating, cube your mackerel. Toss it in once the garlic is browned. (Warning: it will splatter and pop, so adjust the heat accordingly, or pull the pan off the heat when you put in the fish.) Let the mackerel brown. Add salt and black pepper as you like, don’t forget the parsley, and then a dash of wine. Let the wine cook off and then take it off the heat.

two pans are better than one

Use a separate pan to make a soffritto of EVOO and spicy pepper. Giallo Zafferano has a fresh cut one, but I have some pepper spread I made here, so I threw in a teaspoon or two of that. You could probably get away with dried red pepper, too, but those burn very easily, so attenzione.

I was tempted to do all this in one pan, but I find that small details in a lot of Italian cookery — especially the simpler dishes — matter a lot. So just resolve yourself to washing more dishes. Use a big pan, too, because you’ll mix your pasta in this.

When the pasta is almost done, drain it, toss it in the pepper/EVOO soffritto, mix in the tapenade, and once it’s well-mixed, add your mackerel soffritto. For an extra touch of civility, take out the garlic clove at this point — its work in seasoning your soffritto is done.

Mix the whole thing well. At this point you can very finely grate some lemon peel over it.

Eccola, there’s your spaghetti con tapenade e sgombro.

One word of warning — either lower the heat on the pepper/EVOO pan or work very quickly. You don’t want the pasta to get too dry or fried-seeming.

If you can read Italian, don’t miss Giallo Zafferano’s evocative write up of Provence.  If you can’t, a rough translation follows:

Picturesque landscapes, sunny coasts and the blue sea: these are some of the characteristics of Provence, a land famous not only for its endless lavender fields but also for its centuries-old olive trees. We were inspired by the landscapes of this French province to compose this tasty first course.

“San Martino, ogni mosto diventa vino”

Po Valley November fog

Republishing this for the 103rd anniversary of Armistice Day —

It’s not only the 100th anniversary of Armistice, now Veterans, Day, it’s also San Martino, an autumnal feast day in Italy that celebrates not only the fourth-century patron saint of beggars, but also the maturation of new wines. The great Giosuè Carducci also wrote a poem describing a typical foggy fall day around this time of the year in northern Italy, which deserves quoting in full and in the original.

San Martino

La nebbia a gl’irti colli
piovigginando sale,
e sotto il maestrale
urla e biancheggia il mar;

ma per le vie del borgo
dal ribollir de’ tini
va l’aspro odor de i vini
l’anime a rallegrar.

Gira su’ ceppi accesi
lo spiedo scoppiettando:
sta il cacciator fischiando
su l’uscio a rimirar

tra le rossastre nubi
stormi d’uccelli neri,
com’esuli pensieri,
nel vespero migrar.

[click on the title for a serviceable translation]

no steep hills, but plenty of steep argine in Veneto Sud

Carducci moved to Bologna at age 25, where he surely became acquainted with the pervasive northern Italian nebbia, which gets more intense the closer one goes to the Po.

While there, he lived on via Broccaindoso, where, it bears mentioning, there is a pretty decent osteria, if you’re in the neighborhood.

With thanks to SE for reminding me of all of this, and for introducing me to his poetry. 

M&M Enterprise Cooking, Vol. XVI

not bad for being landlocked

Two dishes today. One is a variation on the previously-posted risotto-in-a-bag dish. It was “Mexican night” at the cafeteria Wednesday and I was generously given by the server a large quantity of cooked shrimp, presumably for use in shrimp tacos. Having lived not too far from the Sea of Cortez recently, I can’t imagine why anyone would turn down a shrimp taco, but it suited my purposes well. Not a lot to write about in terms of cooking.

Pasta gorgonzola e noci, November 11

What better way to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War than with a typically Alpine northern Italian dish? This dish comes not from the old battlegrounds of Caporetto and the Piave but from further west, in Piedmont and of course Lombardy, where one remembers that Gorgonzola has its own stop on the Milan metro. This dish is a sort of variation on that old standby that got my wife and I through our impecunious post-student years.

How to do this one: the cafeteria has passable crumbled bleu cheese daily, so I grabbed a couple of containers of that and a container of shelled walnuts (known in Italian as ghergli di noci). I basically followed this recipe from Giallo Zafferano with a few modifications.

Say ghergli five times fast.

  • Finely diced the nuts, or ghergli thereof.
  • Put on the water to boil, salted it.
  • Substituted a bit of whole milk for cream, let it heat and added the cheese. Let the cheese melt and added pepper and a dash of these herbs de provence (which appear to be mainly thyme). Stirred.
  • Put in the penne (no trofie here).
  • Took pasta out a minute early from water, strained pasta and added it to the mix. Added the finely chopped nuts. Let all the moisture cook off, stirring rapidly to prevent sticking.
  • Stirred well and topped with parmigiano reggiano, pricey ($10) at the PX.

cooking down

It wasn’t gorgonzola, needless to say, but it was passable. Sweeter, stickier, not as creamy, but plenty ok for conflict zone cooking. (A colleague who knows war zones well has corrected my use of the term.)  I used lactose-free milk, which maybe have contributed to the sweetness.


Sometime back, I promised to do a literary lunches series, and mainly failed in that regard. Let me try to amend that almost three years later with a quote from a writer who loved the north of Italy.

—Have you a cheese sandwich?
—Yes, sir.
Like a few olives too if they had them. Italian I prefer. Good glass of burgundy take away that. Lubricate. A nice salad, cool as a cucumber, Tom Kernan can dress. Puts gusto into it. Pure olive oil. Milly served me that cutlet with a sprig of parsley. Take one Spanish onion. God made food, the devil the cooks. Devilled crab.
—Wife well?
—Quite well, thanks … A cheese sandwich, then. Gorgonzola, have you?
—Yes, sir.

Keeping in mind that nothing in any work by this author is an accident, let’s consult his pre-eminent biographer for a gloss of what this meal means.

“Besides serving as a parable that life breeds corruption, Gorgonzola is probably chosen also because of Dante’s adventures with the Gorgon in the Inferno IX. Bloom masters the monster by digesting her.”

Reference here.

Next up: Brussels sprouts with bleu cheese, nuts, clarified butter and bread crumbs.

M&M Enterprise Cooking, Vol. XV

risotto al limone e gamberetti

Risotto al limone e gamberetti

Since I’ve been recovering from a mild illness, or busy, or both, war zone cooking has been limited to soups, which probably deserve their own write up, especially as I’ve been experimenting with way to allungare them, often transforming them into hearty, often porky, and thus wholly un-Italian dishes.

But today’s post features shrimp risotto 1400 km from the nearest port. It is possible, with a couple of major shortcuts. Remember: war zone rules.

It seems like many versions of pasta with seafood — spaghetti allo scoglio, con le vongole, alle cozze — have made their way to our shores, but seafood risotto, a favorite of the northeast, hasn’t quite caught on. Perhaps because it’s hard to make — one really should use a broth obtained from boiling all the shellfish.

But here’s a version that one can make in a war zone, thanks mainly (this time) to the Knorr company. I’ll do better next time. I note that Better than Bouillon does a fish stock on Amazon.

made possible by Knorr

Being sort of an impulse dish, this came mainly from the Knorr “gamberetti” ready-to-eat risotto pack which got my attention at the Italian PX. It’s easy: simply immerse in cold water, bring to a boil, let cook for 15 minutes, and eccolo. That seemed too easy, like cheating. Here’s where it gets creative.

I had a pack of my standby Thai frozen shrimp (Italian-branded) in the fridge. It was a foregone conclusion that I’d use them, but just thawing them and throwing them in at the end seemed too boring.

So, in a large, flat pan I made a soffritto of a garlic clove and some preserved local green peppers I cooked down before my leave, cooking it on low heat so the oil soaked up all the flavors, threw in the thawed shrimp, and then added a dash of this California chardonnay (suitable only for cooking). The timing was tricky, and I dreaded the shrimp getting rubbery. The risotto wasn’t quite all’onda (a term that I’ve seen in numerous Milanese cooking blogs, but that my thoroughly northern wife claims she’s never heard), so I poured it into the pan with the risotto and let the extra liquid boil off.

I added some organic Italian EVOO instead of butter, some frozen Italian parsley and the juice from a fresh lemon wedge. The result was not bad, considering the whole 1400-km-from-the-coast thing. Constant stirring meant I got all the excess liquid off and nothing burned, and the shrimp maintained their texture.

I have one more of these Knorr packets — the next one an alla pescatora with shrimp, squid and clam. Since I’m highly dubious about how well those critters can be dehydrated and reconstituted, let’s hope that the PX has one last packet of frozen shrimp. Technically, today’s were more gamberoni. The one I spied in the freeze were certainly gamberini. Stay tuned.

**Update — one Italian PX only had some very dubious looking Scottish-origin scampi. There’s still one more option, but it’ll have to wait.