Rice with Orange Scented Artichokes and Personal Thoughts
Today's post is not really about the recipe, nor about a particular exhibit or craftsman... I suppose it's more about me and letting off steam. As you surely know, the world is focused on this new virus called Covid19, most media speak of nothing else and seem to exploit the problem to sell papers or get link clicks.
It is not for me to say whether it is a serious threat or not, as I am not a virologist and, exactly like everyone else, I get information from the radio and newspapers. If I were allowed an opinion, I would say that it is not that serious, that of course it's something new we don't know much about...but that educated doctors are working on it and that the number of people that have recovered is higher than of those unfortunate ones that passed away, who by the way, were mostly elderly people with previous illnesses... But I believe my opinion counts nothing, as the ones expressed by other non-doctors on social media...
What hurts me is all the negativity and pregiudice around me. I don't want to repeat the hideous and racist sentences I have been seeing lately, I much rather hope that this crazy situation can be turned into an opportunity. With regard to Venice, even the NYT described it as a ghost town, while actually it's not true. It's true that there are a lot less people around, but this is due to the fact that many activities are closed, there are less tourists and that the Venetian resident population has been decimated by the worst virus ever: mass tourism. Finding a decent home in central Venice at a reasonable price for the average worker has become impossible, most second houses are used as Airbnbs, most jobs revolve around tourism (and are of the low-skill sort) and most activities are addressed to tourists. Maybe because I don't work, and don't want to work, in the industry... I can only hope that this crisis will force people to change perspective, that the cost of properties will decrease and that Venice, for me the most marvelous place to live in, will be gradually able to become a normal city again.
Also, if we consider climate change and the level of pollution in the globe, I hope that this disruption in traveling will be positive for the planet. Only in Venice, in these weeks, the issue of 'moto ondoso' (wave-motion) dropped and the quality of the air has improved. Walking around town has never been so pleasant, I can even enjoy my main square, Piazza San Marco, at noon... I don't think (but again this is just a personal opinion) that the huge groups of tourists and day trippers were bringing life to the city... and I feel offended when I see videos of other fellow Venetians saying we are paranoid and should go out to drink/shop. We do those things, but we are just too few. I don't want to say there are more bars and plastic masks and cheap souvenir shops than residents, but I won't deny the idea has crossed my mind more than once.
When I was younger, being passionate about the arts, I thought I would have liked to become a city guide one day, but then while growing up the situation kept degenerating and I opted for other jobs. Also, not being that great socialite and not loving finding myself in the middle of a huge crowd, I have tried to work from home for a long time, as a translator until a couple of years ago, and now through recipe development and photography. Obviously I love it when I work elsewhere, but it's always a bar/restaurant or anyway a 'protected' environment, or if it's a portrait session I interact with my client and the relationship goes beyond mere work. I also used to really enjoy teaching, in fact many former students are now friends that know they can share their worries and joys with me.
What I want to say is just that there are so many awful situations, refugees escaping wars, and poverty in the world that maybe we should stop complaining and start focusing on the positive things we can do to recover from this nightmare. 'Non tutti i mali vengono per nuocere' we say in Italy (meaning every cloud has a silver lining), so this could be an opportunity to raise again and possibly become better and more open minded people, and welcome cultural differences without being scared and mean. We are so lucky, we all have a roof over our heads, food to feast on everyday and friends and family to rely on. Have you ever heard the song 'Point of view' by DB Boulevard?, well ... it's a happy tune and I am listening to it very often in the past weeks.
So, please excuse me for the lack of useful insiders tips today... I just felt I really needed to speak my mind and free myself from these negative feelings. Food is always a feast for me, so here below a super easy recipe for rice with orange scented artichokes. Hope you will like it!
RICE WITH ORANGE SCENTED ARTICHOKES
150 gr basmati rice
8 small artichokes
2 Tbsp taggiasche olives
1 crushed clove of garlic
the juice of half an orange
pepper and parsley to garnish
- Bring a pot of water to the boil, add salt and cook the Basmati rice for the time indicated on the pack (usually 15 minutes)
- Remove external leaves from artichokes and slice lengthwise.
- Heat a pan, add some olive oil, the crushed clove of garlic and when it starts popping, remove garlic and add the artichokes. Cook at high heat for a couple of minutes and with your fingers add a few drops of water. Lower the heat, cover the pan and let simmer for about 5 minutes. Towards the end, add the freshly squeezed orange juice and finish cooking at high heat until the liquid dries out almost entirely.
- When the rice is ready, drain and combine with the artichokes. Add the olives, some grated orange zests, grind some black pepper and garnish with parsley.