At this time of year, I've decided, it should not be only HM The Queen who hands out the honours, so here are mine:
1. Let's start with my "ingredient of the year", which has to be the noble pomegranate. My recipe of the year is this one.
2. Still in the kitchen, let's move on to my "gadget of the year". I have arthritis in my hands and, whilst there is my trusty processor for chopping, peeling had become difficult. Then one day, in Catania, I found this American palm-held peeler. I cannot thank the makers, Chef'n, enough!
3. My book of the year is kitchen-realated, too. In the centenary year of the subject's birth, it is Dearie - The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz. I'm intrigued by the relationship between Julia and her husband and the meticulous way in which this lady researched her recipes is a lesson for all cooks and aspiring cookery writers. The book also offers a fascinating insight into American culinary mores of the time and the birth of the chef superstar.
4. From the kitchen to the bathroom, for I've already awarded my "Italian logic prize 2012" here. If I hadn't, the organisers of the following fiasco would provide stiff competition: in Italy, most successful job candidates are selected by complicated competitions on a "points" system rather than by pre-selection by CV and then an interview. Recently I heard of a situation where two candidates had equal points but one was wanted by the company more than the other. At this point it was decided to exclude both these candidates, on the grounds that they had more experience than the others, to "make it fair". This again proves my point that Italy is a democracy that is a long way from being a meritocracy and therein lie many of its troubles.
5. The "non-feminist of the year" award goes to the former Mrs Berlusconi, Veronica Lario. Her ex may well have deserved being taken to the cleaner's but let's stop hailing the lady as a feminist heroine, shall we? There is no doubt that Miss Lario is beautiful and I'm sure she is very talented. However, independent women, by definition, do not live off men!
6. Now the shits: I've had many bad days in my life but the worst two were those on which my parents died, twenty and forty years ago respectively in 2013. Time helps you accept these things, as you must in order to go on living, but the pain never really goes away. In 2012, someone I'd trusted chose the eve of the anniversary of one those days to do something spiteful, premeditated and awful to me. After I'd cried a bit, though, I was able to say, "I've known a worse day than this" and pull myself together. Therefore, in retrospect I would like to thank the person for the timing; it helped me to establish what's important and what isn't.
7. The angels are the friends who listened, lent their shoulders, fed me comforting soup and enabled me to start again. I include my precious dog Simi among them, for although she has difficulty preparing the soup, she continues to give me all the love in the world, every day.
8. My "shit number two" [so to speak] award goes to all who profit from the misery of others and especially the ratings agencies that do so much to cause it.
9. Finally, my "Carry On Up the Tiber" award goes to Italian politicians, who cannot even give the bickering a rest over Christmas. Ever heard of "peace and goodwill", guys?
AUGURI, BUON ANNO AND HAPPY NEW YEAR !
Frank Sinatra - Pick Yourself Up