Antidote for an endless winter

The price of oil is dictating frugal staycations and given the dubious pleasures of modern travel, I am opting to stay at home with a good book to escape the dreariness of this neverending winter. Here is my prescription for SAD (seasonal affective disorder) whilst living in the icy clutches of a long Winnipeg winter.

READ Every Day in Tuscany, the sequel to Under the Tuscan Sun. Frances Mayes continues her memoirs of the voluptuous delights of life in Italy. You too can recreate those pleasures in the comfort of your own home and save a bundle to boot.

COOK – Ever since reading Nora Ephron’s Heartburn, a thinly veiled account of her divorce from Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame and one of the first novels to have recipes peppered throughout, I often cook up her pasta puttanesca. Nigella Lawson does her own version of pasta puttanesca which she calls “Slut Spaghetti” and she includes it in her latest cookbook Kitchen. Concocted by ladies of the night after a long shift, this pasta was composed of ingredients readily found in the cupboard: artichokes, anchovies, capers and tomatoes. It is incredibly simple to prepare but the flavours are intensely sophisticated. Follow up with a post prandial caffe correto espresso and a shot of Frangelico and you’ll swear you are on the Spanish Steps.

While the pasta is boiling LISTEN to Puccini Gold with arias  performed by renowned opera stars. Or pour a hot bath and brush up on your Italian  a la Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love with an  audiobook courtesy of Electronic Libraries Manitoba. This database offers free downloads of ebooks or audiobooks free of charge.

WATCH the lavish HBO/BBC production of Rome on DVD. Set in 1st century BC, the series begins with Julius Ceasar’s conquest of Gaul and ends with the double suicide of Marc Antony and Cleopatra. One of the most expensive TV series ever, the $110 million budget allowed for the recreation of villas, the Forum and slum areas of ancient Rome. The score is recorded using the ancient instruments of the time and the extras play their professional counterparts – i.e. butchers play butchers.

There you have it. You have avoided the indignities of airport security and the misery of jetlag while enjoying la dolce vita like a true thrifty Winnipegger!


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