Every year some time in late Spring my father would come home with a road map and after dinner he would open it up on the dining table and and with a red marker we would go over the map and decide where we should spend that summer. It usually would start with a flight to a European major city and then we would mark the roads that we would be traveling on from there. My older sisters were usually preoccupied by being teenagers and my little brother couldn't care less. It was a very special time for me to be involved in decision making of where our family would spend the summer months. Little that I knew then, Papa already had decided where he wanted to take us. The whole processes was just for my indulgence. Once we got to the first city, usually in Germany, he would purchase a car and then we would get the map out and go. We traveled mostly by land and sometimes by sea and visited towns and villages one would not normally travel to as a tourist. I realize now that he did this every year in hopes of finding a city/country for us to move to. When he finally made it to Virginia, he found home.
Of course my best memories of these travels are "all about the food". As we got to each town Mamma and sisters (brother was attached to my mom by the hip) spent a lot of time shopping and Papa and I would go exploring. After some site seeing, he would find a local grocery store and get us some fresh bread, local cheeses, olives, a bag of fruit of some sort, and we would park ourselves somewhere by a river, a sea, a mountain view, a castle, a cathedral, or a ruin and enjoy a delicious lunch. I still think there is nothing as wonderful as a picnic of bread, cheese and olives! Once it was dinner time, usually my oldest sister(the princess) would decide where to eat and by then my parents were ready for a glass... sometimes a bottle of Chianti(the kind with a basket around it that during 60's and 70's doubled for candle holders). We don't think you want us to have bread and cheese on the menu this week :( so we are going to prepare for you some of my sisters favorites from these travels. We have adjusted some of the recipe's for healthier and hopefully tastier versions. We hope you will enjoy this weeks menu and perhaps this will inspire you to plan your summer travels to a location you normally wouldn't travel to. Guten Appetit!