Our rental settlement got here with all the standard clauses and a verbal one: cope with the tortoise on the terrace. This unexpected position has added joy. I had no concept how fast a tortoise should pass in the presence of watermelon or that the movement could be a lolloping scamper. However, it has additionally prompted top-notch anxiety. At least once an afternoon, I can’t locate the tortoise (on our 5m x 5m terrace) or need to scare off a seagull with the wingspan of a lamp-put up.
This anxiety peaked during hibernation, which began in early November and appeared in no way to stop. And I’m now not the simplest one: start typing “tortoise hibernating” into Google, and earlier than you hit the letter “o,” the phrases “or dead” seem. I spent the whole of February and half of March annoying that the tortoise, named Secret Agent by way of my son, became no longer with us in the frame, best shell. Then, someday, he strolled to the center of the terrace, stopping to sunbathe as if not anything had come about. Relief became soon displaced with the aid of similar anxiety when he confirmed no hobby in consuming, ignoring every leaf or slice of green apple.
Then, someday, he started eating. He gobbled at velocity a head-sized leaf of lettuce, half a tomato, and a slice of apple. Last Tuesday, the first day of spring and complete of the sun, Secret Agent ran, with a splendid lolloping scamper, at a pea pod. Who can blame him? Even while pods are filled with mealy cannonballs (that’s often the case), it is spring, and there are peas, wide beans, and asparagus at the marketplace (and supermarket), and artichokes so large they ought to win prizes. Also, there are spring eggs.
In her book Seasonal Europe Dishes, Elizabeth Luard writes: “Eggs, forbidden meals during the stern Lenten fast, play a central element in Easter rituals throughout Europe – in component because eggs have long been a talisman of rebirth long before Christianity appropriated the symbolism, however no longer least due to the fact after the Lenten fast there were masses of eggs round.” The beautiful eggs are, of course, chocolate, strung in victorious arches or filling bowls with pastel-colored foil pleasure.
An abundance of eggs means plenty of egg-enriched dishes: cakes, bread, buns, and pies. All looking forward to the quiet of Lent, for individuals who take a look at it, and enjoyable the appetite of individuals who don’t. One of my favorites is pizza, a word that, until the 18th century, indicated cakes and tortes, almost usually candy and almost unknown beyond Naples and its surrounding towns (it changed into no longer till the early nineteenth-century pizza took on its modern connotation in Naples). Pizza di Pasqua, an enriched bread made with 1/2 a dozen eggs, ricotta, sugar, and lemon zest, is a superb instance, as is Neapolitan pizza rustic, an English breakfast sealed in pastry (cheese, ham, and eggs) and baked right into a Neapolitan form of natural goodness.
At this time of year in Rome, it’s miles conventional to pair the firstrimary beans, fresh from the pod, with pecorino and this addiction merely works as well with English wide seeds and jagged bits of Lancashire cheese. Both combinations work well with pizza rustic as a part of a spring meal, together with thin slices of salami, olives, or pickles, more cheese, and, especially if you have a tortoise on your terrace, a green salad. Pizza Rustica (Neapolitan cheese, ham, and egg pie) I comply with a recipe from Anna Gosetti Della Salda’s masterful Le Ricette Regionali Italiane, which is possibly the Italian cookbook I discuss with the maximum. Pizza Rustica is high-quality, eaten 30 minutes after it’s removed from the oven when the filling has settled but no longer quite firmed up but.