Tuesday, July 11, 2006

One Big Party

Gazetta dello Sport, the newspaper with the widest circulation in Italy proclaimed "Italia, una fiesta senza fine" (Italy, a party without ending). Coach Lippi declared his "una gioia immensa" (an immense joy).
While many non-Italians felt the French team's performance made them the Ganador Moral (the deserved winner), unfortunately, it is the team taking the trophy home that the World remembers.

Or maybe not in this case; none less than President Jacques Chirac had to come out to reaffirm the country's admiration and love for her son Zinedine Zidane. A number of English newspapers have engaged professional lip readers to decipher exactly the insult flung by Marco Materazzi to cause the head butting incident. Most came to the conclusion that the word "terrorist" was used in combination with the more classically Italian insult of "prostitute".

Again according to the Gazetta, Materazzi denied calling Zidane a terrorist. He said: "I am not a cultured person and I don't even know what an Islamist terrorist is." He also added: "For me, the mother is sacred, you know that." Yeah and for me, Marco, your reply smacked with furbizia (Italian word for cunning; being furbo, however, is not necessarily deemed bad in Italy). So, I am keeping my eyes peeled for Zidane's revelation in the coming days.

What is interesting though, if you ask the Socceroos, they would tell you, seriously, they should have been the ones at the semi-final. In their minds, it was not so only because Italian Fabio Grosso appeared to fake a foul by Lucas Neill to earn Italy a last-second, match-winning penalty against Australia. The referee, Spaniard Luis Medina Cantalejo, controversially awarded Italy a spot-kick and Francesco Totti converted when a yellow card for Grosso would have been more appropriate. But, Mr.Neill et al, you seem to have conveniently forgotten that in an extra 30min, anything could have happened...

Even more amusing is my husband who feels the best players at the final were the referee and his lines men – all four were Argentine! And we shan't forget, of course not, Argentine Camoranessi was wearing the Azzuro (Blue, the Italian team) that day. Guillermo's own gioia immensa was only slightly dampened by the fact that the one failed penalty kick of the French team was administered by Argentine Trezeguet - so Argentina won and lost the World Cup in the same match!

During the World Cup, we had been eating all types of homemade fast food – pasta Italian style, pasta Chinese style, and pasta my style. Finally, last night I prepared a roast chicken for dinner, we felt it was our first proper meal in a long while. But don't tell anyone...it was just another type of fast food! OK, it was fast food in my book because I hardly needed to do anything, the oven did all the hard work!

I just marinated a free range chicken generously with chinese spiced salt, loads of garlic, then I added juice of two small lemons, olive oil and my secret ingredient: a pint of frozen beer. Guillermo and I are not beer drinkers so we always have leftovers after entertaining. While I am only too aware that wine snobs would so not approve, I refridgerate or even freeze drips and draps of beer and wine for cooking. Waste not want not; besides, it works very well indeed!

I stuffed my big plump bird with frozen beer and let her sat in a shallow bath of lemon juice, back side up in our fiery oven, for 45min with some sliced potatoes. Then I turned her breast up for another 45min. or until it was bronzed. The spiced salt made the skin extra crispy and the now defrosted beer kept the meat moist.

This salt is great with fried calamari or crispy chicken. I would say this is more an ingredient list than a recipe. Like all Chinese cooking, the proportion should be to your taste.

1 cup sea salt
1 tsp sichuan pepper
2 pieces of star anise
a thumb of cinnamon quills
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
1 medium size piece of dried mandarin peel

Grind all ingredients in a coffee grinder and voilà.

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