by Francesca Arniotes January 1, 2021
no, SOON is the winter of our discontent to be made summer by this sun of Pfizer,
And all the clouds that lour’d upon our house in the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
Now, though our visages remain masked, our bruised arms lie outstretch’d for pricking. Thereafter when all our land hath receiv’d the good medicine
Will our stern alarums to flee one another change to merry meetings.
But still are months of our discontent ling’ring ahead into the New Year with time yet
To steel our resolve for turning over a new leaf in the aftertimes…
OH NO! Maybe only 6 months left to exit the pandemic knowing how to play the concertina, speak Japanese, having a remodeled house, or publishing a novel!
I’m sure you’ve been busy and used your time well all these many months. Don’t fret if you haven’t become a chess grandmaster or turned your property into a park. However, if your interests lie in travel-inspired cooking or cooking-inspired travel, either of which might be fertile ground for your novel, maybe Castles and Kitchens can help you achieve a little more. Each week Tom and Francesca each offer a dinner experience inspired by a visit or extended stay someplace in the US or abroad. A full multi-course meal is designed to pick up and take home, with suggestions for setting the mood – tableware to music – and extending to movies that take you to the place that inspired your dinner, creating an escape from the ordinary, escape from the kitchen, and escape to someplace exotic, intriguing or fun. During our cooking classes in “the beforetimes’, we used to talk about the cultural seedbed of our recipes, our interesting and unusual ingredients and where they come from, techniques, nutrition and fun food facts. A little of that spills over into our coronatimes pick up dinner experiences, with the hope that some fun facts or introduction to the culture from which our dinners spring might spark fresh conversation with that person you’ve been at home with 24/7 for 10 months. Or perhaps something we say opens a door and starts you on a journey of discovery –- say what you will about it, Google has been awesome during this pandemic! If one of your New Year resolutions is to be more curious, open-minded and adventurous, and to seek out experiences over accumulating stuff, you might start with C&K’s travel-inspired dinners.
As hopes rise for the return of our ability to offer cooking-inspired travel, we dare to plan to return to our Chianti farmhouse in the autumn, taking C&K friends along to eat, cook and greet our neighbors again and drink their wine. In our absence perhaps our little old gardener tended the fig trees, flowers and herbs, the pool, gathering the walnuts from the patio between periods of lockdown. We look forward to new kinds of stories and conversation about life during "la pandemia” and are a little trepidacious about changes it might have wrought. But then again, Tuscany has been continuously inhabited for over 10,000 years. There were plagues. There were wars. There were hard times. The people assimilated and were assimilated -- Etruscans, Greeks, Romans. Every significant event, and this pandemic is one, brings changes and eventually strengthens civilization as a whole. (Fun fact: Remarkably, the Etruscans of the second century BCE have not gone anywhere. DNA testing of remains found in Etruscan tombs in the cypress forests near our farmhouse match living residents in neighboring villages.) The beauty of our Live-in-Chianti vacations is the opportunity that our small group of friends has to interact with individuals and our community and share experiences, day to day challenges, philosophies and points of view. It’s a true cultural exchange with deeper immersion and opportunities for greater understanding of ourselves in the wider world. Follow an intriguing path on your own, get to know the local life a little each day, or just come along to market, cook, eat and drink the excellent local wines and kick back with us. Just like our cooking classes and pick up dinner experiences, we aim to inspire and empower you to go deeper in your travel experiences than just seeing the sights and getting an overview of a place. Gain the confidence to interact, open and immerse yourself in another’s daily experience, share views with people, ask for recipes. If you resolve to be more curious, open minded and adventurous and to seek out experiences over accumulating stuff, once again, you’ll want to make friends with us,Tom and Francesca, at Castles and Kitchens. Maybe life has changed. The whole world has been in this together, so then it is more important than ever to connect with our broader human community for understanding and make those relationships that strengthen civilization as a whole. Here’s to solidarity and a bold and aspirational 2021.