Banos Familia

A place to gather events, ideas and family...all in one place, while we are far away

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Roman Holiday...and then some....

It was my second Thanksgiving in Europe, and again, somehow, even though I was far away, the day's significance stuck out my mind more than ever. There is something more poignant, I guess about being an American when one is in charge of remembering. At home, I would have been bombarded with familiar scenes and rituals, those of which I am fond of and reliant upon, but which do not require much from me to remember the day. Thanksgiving at home equals family and being together, and not so much about being an American..more about being a Banos. Being forced to acknowledge the day on my own terms made it more real, more there.

The day was spent at an all day cooking class in Florence, with our Italian "life coach" Judy. Judy, an American from Memphis, has made a career out of hosting Americans for Italian immersion: she teaches how to shop, eat and live like an Italian--and she is darn good at it.

Our first task was to get aquainted with Judy--learn more about her and where she came from, and how she managed to carve out such an terrific life for herself in Italy--one that I am sure everyone fantasizes about. She originally started out as a pastry chef in San Francisco and in the mid-eighties, she chucked it all to move to Italy and do the same there. She quickly learned, however, that the Italians are not so quick to dole out culinary approval, and she had to earn her stripes working as a waitress, asking questions and absorbing as much as they would allow. Eventually, she earned enough credibility to go it on her own and she has done quite well at it. Here's her website:

Wine Store
She squired us through the seemingly neverending lines of stalls of fresh produce, meat, cheese, and specialty items in Florence's Central Market, a few steps away from Judy's apartment. It was certainly a dynamic feast for the senses. Total, unadulaturated sensory overload of the best kind--laden with the two mainstays of any Italian diet: truffles and porchino(pork).

Dizzy from sampling and tasting and smelling and looking, we made our way back to Judy's apartment to begin our work.

We had decided on our menu: In the traditonal Italian way, we started with antipasto of wild boar salami, venison sausage and cheeses. A primi piatti of freshly made raviolis stuffed with pear, ricotta, pecorino and parmesan in a butter sauce followed. The secondo piatti consisted of roasted pork ribs, wrapped around a pork tenderloin, coated with an erbe toscano with roasted potatoes seasoned with truffle salt (!!!). A salad of oranges, arugula, parmesan, olive oil and vinegar comprised the contorno and for dessert, a twist on the classic tiramisu with berries instead of coffee.

It is true that it is not hard to eat well. What is essential is the very best ingredients that one can find, simply prepared. Food that tastes like what it is supposed to, without messing it up with extraneous tastes and textures. The food we made was exceedingly delicious, and was, in fact, extrememly easy to make! I took copious notes, trying to gather on to paper the secrets to beautiful food that Judy seemed so effortlessly to understand.

The meal was terrific. (needless to say)

We did do a few other things in Italy other than eat! Click on the link below to see more:

Sunday, November 26, 2006

We Should Have Made A T-shirt

I always joke about how sometimes when we all gather together for holidays we should make a t-shirt to commemorate the event. The t-shirt would come in handy for those still in college who don't have much money to spend on clothing, it would give the old men another shirt to do some yard work in and would spare me and the rest of the girls the trouble of having to come up with something comfortable yet fashionable to wear to Thanksgiving dinner. So, I think next year I am going to do my best to have t-shirts for everyone.

Thanksgiving weekend in Thibodaux was lovely but we really missed those of you who could not be with us. The weather was absolutely incredible from Wednesday until Sunday. It was cool enough to feel like proper Thanksgiving weather but not so cold that you didn't want to go outside. Really my only complaint with respect to how it felt outside is that the mosquitos were awful. It was ridiculous. See the picture of Lucy below for the proof.

The Vaicius family spent most of the weekend recovering from a week-long cold that went from Lucy to Chrisitian and then to me. I think the Poitevents were dealing with some stuffy noses and other ailments as well. By the end of the weekend I think Papa George and the Walgreens pharmacist were on a first name basis after all of the prescriptions he had to call in.

We all gathered together at the big house for Thanksgiving dinner at around 4. As always, Aunt Margot had completely transformed the big house into the most inviting retreat imaginable. Candles, fall foliage, and the smell of all of the delicious food made for a most enjoyable evening together.

Here's a picture of Lucy and Edward during the blessing. I realize it is probably not polite to snap pics during grace but I couldn't resist.

Having Lucy and Edward together for the weekend was definitely the highlight, even if they didn't communicate much. It was worth it just for the opportunity to see GG and Papa George holding the great-grandbabies.

It was also a nice treat to have all the Foxes around this year. For those of you who were not there, you would not believe how old Susan's kids are! I wish I had a picture (Jane or Becky, if you have one, send it to me and I will post it with their permission).

Big Laura was also in attendance (I think this was her third Thanksgiving out at White and, I hope, a tradition that will continue). She had a wonderful time and, as usual, tried to pass off fake words during the nightly scrabble matches and was even busted trying to hide an "F" in one round. Here's a picture I took busting her enjoying her ciggy while she waits for Papa George and GG to take her to mass:

Uncle George made a great bonfire Thursday night. It was perfect because it got pretty cold. I didn't last long outside becuase of my sore throat but we at least managed to get Lucy out there for her first bonfire experience:

I hope that all of you who could not be with us had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Start thinking about t-shirt designs and themes for next year. I am thinking Thanksgiving 2007 - Eat, Drink, and be a Banos.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Another Happy Birthday!

To Aunt Margot!
I hope that you have a wonderful birthday tomorrow and a great weekend.
Lucy has been practicing so that she can sing Happy Birthday to you. Get ready.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Feliz Cumple!

Happy birthday to Aunt Julie and Sarah. I hope that you both have a wonderful day and know that we are all thinking about you!