This post had a different beginning. Before the world was turned upside down by tragic events. Before we woke up, one day, a bit more scared and a lot less free. When a friday night like many others, the weather being nice enough to sit outside in cafés and restaurants or pleasant enough to drag you out of your cozy safe place and take you to mingle with other people like you, wanting to enjoy a concert or a soccer game, transformed into a nightmare or into the last day of your life.
Being from Rome, I've always considered Paris a sister city, we have so much in common, history, culture, traditions. Of course, like every sisterhood, also a fair share of jealousies: whose food is tastier, whose wine is better, "who is the fairest in the land". But in the end we got along pretty well and loved and respected each other. I've been there many times, studied French Language and Literature, always felt an indescribable connection. I cannot hide that what happened deeply touched me and shook my whole being, even if at the moment I was miles and miles away from it. You feel it stronger if you're in the same continent, just a few kilometres apart, when you're part of the same Union, when what happened there could have happened to you in your neighbouring City.
And a couple days after the Night of Terror, discovering that the "mind" of the attack came from Brussels, lived there, recruited some terrorists there, in another "cousin" city, one that you like and visited, and considered a safe, cosmopolitan, liberal place, and that you had a post scheduled where you talked about that city and how much you enjoyed going there....well, that news grabbed you by the shoulders and shook you a bit more.
I want a world where there are no barriers, no walls, no prejudices, where we can live, love and laugh together, with our peculiar accents, our beautiful shades of skin color, sharing stories and food from our own backgrounds, respecting each other, learning from one another, growing from our diversities.
I pray for that world of peace, kindness and unity to come.
Because after all, I still believe in us human beings.
Anyway, this was the scheduled post, before...
I've been to Brussels many times. It is a lovely city and the capital of Belgium, in northwestern Europe, and it is also the Headquarters of the European Union. I've been working for a Ministry in Rome for 24 years and -what seems like a lifetime ago- I was a member of a European Committee that met once a month in Brussels. That gave me the opportunity to know the city inside and out, plus some beautiful surrounding areas. Moreover, my dear friend Silvia and her husband moved there to work where they stayed for quite some time. During those years, I often went to visit (sometimes alone, sometimes with a couple other dear friends) and enjoyed myself immensely (I also did extensive shopping and I still own some great fashion pieces that I bought there).
I don't remember ever eating or ordering at a restaurant (or Brasserie) Brussels Sprouts; I imagine they may have originated and gained its name there, but they are not the food I associate Brussels with. Moules-frites (mussels and fries), Endive au Gratin (gratin endive), Croque Monsieur and Croque Madame (kinda sandwiches), Gaufres (waffles), tons of Chocolate and gallons of Beer, that is what comes to my mind. Such pleasurable memories!
I guess these Brussels sprouts are way healthier than all the yummy food I listed above. And sometimes healthy and tasty can go hand in hand. This is the case and much to my surprise, since I did not consider myself a Brussels sprouts's connoisseur. Note that I said "didn't". That means that I may have changed my mind.
The credit goes mainly to the quality of the ingredients: organic local Brussels sprouts bought during our saturday visit to the Strathcona Farmers Market, a cold pressed extra virgin olive oil and a fantastic balsamic cream (Crema di Aceto Balsamico) that we brought back from Eataly, Rome. Salt, pepper, garlic and chopped hazelnuts just enhance the overall delicious flavor.
The caramelizaton that occurs while they are roasting in the oven is amazing. And the smell they spread in the house is delightful. The chopped hazelnuts give a nice crunch and some sweetness that blend perfectly with the earthy flavor of the Brussels sprouts and the tangy yet sweet creaminess of the balsamic cream.
They were a revelation, at least for me, I would have never imagined to go for seconds.
Tender, candied, crunchy. Enjoy your intake of vitamins, fibres and minerals.
Today's song can only be John Lennon's "Imagine", in the touching rendition of a soloist, performing it on the piano the day after the events outside the Bataclan.