Cannoli Pepperoni

Est. 2013

Posts by Junita Bognanni

In Sum

Posted on March 15, 2014

In Sum

We have a lot to catch up on.

{Image courtesy of the brilliant Hamlett Dobbins}

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The Best Roasted Potatoes*

Posted on February 2, 2014

I learned the secret to the Best Roasted Potatoes on day three of my internship. Believe me, a chorus of angels sang from on high when this secret was revealed. Over the last few months of living at the Academy I’ve noticed that if roasted potatoes are a component of dinner, it doesn’t matter how delicious the braised pork cheeks were. People will fight to the death for the last potato. They are that good.   As promised, here is the recipe: Clean and peel potatoes. If you’re not using them immediately, store in cold water so they don’t discolor. Cut potatoes into wedges. [The secret part!!!] Blanch potatoes in boiling water for a few minutes. Drop them in the water and let them sit…

The Rome Sustainable Food Project

Posted on January 21, 2014

Shortly after Peter’s magical letter came in the mail, I discovered the Rome Sustainable Food Project. It is exactly what it sounds like. A sincere, passionate mission to source the best seasonal food within a small radius of Rome and transform it into a week’s worth of delicious meals for the Fellows of the American Academy. This excellent video will fill you in on the rest: The RSFP is a teaching kitchen, staffed by three chefs and a crop of rotating interns. Yes, interns. Can you guess where there is going? There’s a reason you haven’t heard  much from me. I’m living in two worlds right now– I’m an RSFP intern and a “fellow traveler”– and somewhere there’s regular old Junita, too. My internship…

The New Normal

Posted on December 26, 2013

A funny thing happened when I wasn’t looking. I don’t know when, exactly, this city started to feel like a place where I actually live. But it does. A few weeks ago Peter asked me, “Do you still have those days when you can’t believe we live here?” We were making our way down the hill to Trastevere. I turned a corner and suddenly the city was in full view, lit with the golden late afternoon light that still makes my knees go weak. I thought, of course! Isn’t that what I’m supposed to feel? But then the real answer came to the surface. Actually, I do believe I live here. Feelings of awe still come over me, but I spend more time just enjoying a daily…

Natale is Near

Posted on December 7, 2013

Earlier today Peter and I were walking along Via del Corso at dusk. We had stayed out just a bit too long. The street was swollen with people walking in that over-shopped, dazed way that only seems to happen around Christmas. I was feeling tired and ready to be home. As if walking down the crowded street wasn’t difficult enough, a man in uniform darted in front of us and knelt down. He blocked our path, looking skyward with a pained expression on his face. He flipped a switch and we looked up. Suddenly the string of lights that span the entire street were all lit up.

 

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The Bass Garden

Posted on December 2, 2013

In many ways, the American Academy is too improbable to take in on first sight. When my taxi pulled up to the front gate on the day I arrived, I thought I was having a fantastic jet lagged dream. And that’s the way I felt for days! I’m now approaching month three and the place still astounds me, but it’s starting to feel like home. Since the Academy is as important to my day-to-day life as the city of Rome, I think it’s time you were introduced.

Why don’t we start here? My backyard in Rome has a name.

In Saint Paul I never thought to call the 30×20′ plot behind our house anything special, although I love it all the same. The little vegetable garden, the patch of pink peonies and the hearty stalks of rhubarb that miraculously poke through the cold earth every spring are special to me. You can know a garden like this by heart. A name would be beside the point. But of course here everything is different.

The Bass Garden is an expanse of little hills behind the Academy enclosed on all sides by stone walls and a gate. It’s a place for sitting alone with your coffee and your thoughts, as much as it’s a place for meeting a friend (“Meet me at the back gate” is a common refrain.) There are olive and orange trees and a pebbled path lined with fragrant wild rosemary. There’s a bocce ball court and a wood-fired grill. And there’s a beautiful vegetable garden with raised brick beds that produces much of the salad greens (among other vegetables) that we eat.

I’ve loved seeing what the change of seasons brings to this glorious space. This is what the garden looked like on December 2nd. Can you imagine what’s to come this spring?

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The Boxer At Rest

Posted on November 25, 2013

Last Sunday Peter and I ventured off the Academy hill to the Palazzo Massimo alle Terme. We’ve been slowly building a list of museums and sights to see in Rome and just as slowly checking things off the list. The beauty of being here for almost a year is there’s no pressure–at least right now–to sightsee. We can drink in Rome’s history like a rich digestif, slowly sipping so that it settles nicely. I’ve never been so aware of stretching out an experience, but that’s what this year is like. It feels like the more gradually I take everything in, the longer the memories will last.

Palazzo Massimo is a gorgeous museum with a large collection of ancient mosaics, one of the most vividly-colored intact frescoes I’ve ever seen, and the haunting 4th century B.C. bronze sculpture, “Boxer at Rest.” Can you imagine what it would have been like to be the archeologist who discovered this wondrous object in 1885? You can see the scars etched on the boxer’s face. You can get so close that he almost looks real (until you set the sensors off, like I did, and are jarred out of your reverie). We wandered through the galleries, blissfully alone in most of them, until we’d had enough. How do you follow up an afternoon of beautiful art? With pastries of course. So we stopped at L’arte del Pane for a sweet nibble and then we got on the bus to go back home.