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Friday, November 29, 2013

Rixi e bixi or rice with pancetta and peas
Rixi e bixi (also known as risi e bisi) is a traditional Venetian dish. And it's so simple: rice with pancetta and peas. 

Who knew such a simple dish could be so delicious? 

Okay, so there's also cheese and you can add other things to make it your own like garlic, shallots, onions, etc. 

You have to love the Italians for combining two carbs in one dish. Yummy peas and rice? Yes please!

But what is pancetta?

Pancetta (Wikimedia Commons)
Basically it's an Italian bacon made of pork belly, salt cured and seasoned with pepper and other spices. 

You can find recipes here:

Rachel Ray  


Hungry yet?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Gondolas and Gondoliers

The Grand Canal of Venice

In Italian the Grand Canal is called the Canal Grande. In Venetian it is Canalasso.  At one end of the canal is a lagoon, and at the other end is the Saint Mark Basin. The canal makes a large reverse S-shape through the central parts of Venice. Below is a picture of Venice taken from space in 2001.

Venice, 2001 (Wikimedia Commons)
There are more than 170 buildings lining the banks of the Grand Canal. Many date from the time of Marco Polo. Wealthy Venetian families liked showing off their prosperity through the palazzos they built. The bigger and fancier the design of the palazzo, the richer they were thought to be.

There are also churches along the canal including the basilica of Santa Maria della Salute:
Santa Maria della Salute (Wikimedia Commons)

Along the Canal, buildings combining the warehouse and the merchant's residence, were popular. These are called "fondaco" houses.

The Fondaco dei Tedeschi (Wikimedia Commons)
Fondaco dei Turchi (Wikimedia Commons)
The "porch" or "portico" covers the dock of the warehouse to keep the cargo from the weather. Storerooms are inside of the house and at the other side there is usually a courtyard. Or the courtyard can be in the middle. 

In Marco Polo's time, the only bridge that crossed the Grand Canal was the Rialto Bridge. But now there are three more bridges: the Ponte degli Scalzi:
Ponte degli Scalzi (Wikimedia Commons)
the Ponte dell'Accademia:

Ponte dell'Accademia (Wikimedia Commons)
and the Ponte della Costituzione, that connects the train station to Piazzale Roma, one of the few places in Venice where buses and cars can enter. In all other areas of Venice people must ride in a boat to get around!

Ponte della Costituzione (Wikimedia Commons)
In Marco Polo's time, there weren't as many buildings as there are today, so he could probably run along the edge of the canal in certain places. But as you can see by some of these pictures, he may not have been able to run along the edge at all without going onto the covered porch of a warehouse.

Grand Canal, Venice (Wikimedia Commons)

Grand Canal, Venice (Wikimedia Commons)

I think it would be fun to ride in a boat to get to the store or to church. How would you like to go everywhere in your town by boat?

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Ponte Rialto

The pictures above and below are what the Ponte Rialto bridge probably looked like when Marco Polo was alive. (Painted by Vittore Carpaccio in 1494.)

This is the Ponte Rialto today:

You can learn more about this beautiful bridge here: Ponte di Rialto

Saturday, November 16, 2013