Imperfect and Comfortable

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Travel my dear is the real essence of life....

That is truly something I believe. And, I have been on the road more than I ever imagined for the last three months. In my own version of around the world in 40 days, I went from the comfortable to the nostalgic to the challenging to the global and back. From US to Italy back to both coasts of US to Japan to China to Singapore back to Italy to London to Ireland to North Italy and, finally back again to central Italy, my temporary home!

The best and worse part of this travel was that it was mostly for work. That added an amazing dimension. In all my life, I have wanted to travel to see new cultures, to open my mind and learn from people different from me. This had me traveling for pleasure when I worked in a different industry and the for PR and media work about a specific place or culture.

I AM JUST BACK AND BOY! HOME NEVER FELT SO GOOD...

For the first time, I traveled on a global research project for a large CPG firm. I was the exclusive strategist gathering data, doing interviews despite language barriers, then drawing insights that cuts across all the regions while keeping the local spirit alive, was utterly involving and stimulating. I was very vested in the research as it was close to my own aspirations. So, I found that it really helped me create focus in my understanding of the various cultures. And, indeed opened my eyes to many nuances that I would never have uncovered if not for the active quest.

I have much to share here about all the travels that happened, what I learnt and how i grew (up). I am sorry I am really behind on sharing my experiences, but I will slowly, if you bear with me. 

My first goal is to be more consistent here. I know for the last year or so, I have been very sporadic in my posting, with all the ruckus in my life. No excuses, but, I want to get back to sharing my food and thoughts with you. It has been a tremendous year of growth and that has meant that I have had to let a few things go {more on that in the coming weeks} and retrench into the core things that make me happy. I am continually looking at what brings joy, not just to me, but to others as well and re-juggling priorities. Time and again, sharing food, in real and virtual life, has been a foremost driving force of my everyday joy. 

So, here I am

back at home, on my blog, MY comfort, imperfect as i am! 


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A EMILIA ROMAGNAN PANZANELLA SALAD

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To me, Panzanella feels the best way to reintroduce myself back into the world of reality from the surreality of the last few months. It also brings me a whole circle to my Italian present, the dreams of my past, and the groundedness I have always sought. 

Ask a Tuscan and they can be very passionate about their Panzanella salad. Indeed, my love for "Italian" began when I met one such and tasted her passion for the Tuscan cuisine, in something as simple as this salad. Their true belief on not wasting a thing resonated with me back when. Today, with my focus on sustainability and reducing overall negative human footprint, the skill of extracting everything from the ingredients and food we have, is such a noble act that is realistic. 

The beauty for me is that it is such a simple and fulfilling dish on its own. Whoever would have thought it was really created to use to stale bread?! But, then again, it allows for layering of flavors as you wish. Which, is what I did here. As a salute to that Tuscan inspiration and combining it with my Emilia Romagnan love, I added Proscuitto di Parma and a fried local egg for a marvelous welcome back!

Also, as a last hurrah....! Because I began an elimination diet to get a hold on my increasing sentivities. So for some while now, you will see how I manage my life without wheat (no bread, pasta), eggs (OMG! kill me now), fresh cheese (oh!), lentils (hmm), and many other staples. Well....!

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For 2 servings:

2 thick slices of crusty (atleast 2 day old) country bread, cut or torn into pieces

1 small red onion, julienned

6-8 salad tomatoes, sliced

few basil leaves, torn

slices of proscuitto di parma, torn

2 eggs

juice of 1/2 lemon

olive oil, sea salt and pepper

Soak the bread in water for a few minutes. Squeeze out as much water as you can. Then, break it into chunks into the salad bowl.

Add the rest of the ingredients, toss gently.

Dress with the olive oil, lemon, sea salt and pepper to your taste. {I like mine lemony, so I am generous with it}

You could also make a vinaigrette, but I feel that then becomes fancy French than accessible Italian.... #justsaying.

Let the salad sit in the fridge for atleast 30 minutes before attempting to serve. It is best served at room temperature.

Fry the eggs and serve on top of the salad.

My recommendation is to make a huge batch of this, because the next day, it tastes simply incredible as the flavors soak into the bread, making the whole so much more than the sum!