This is not a recipe but many things more than that. First of all, it’s a bit of me when I’m hungry and there is sun outside and even though this sun is shining over London and not over Napoli it still feels like summertime.
It’s another blinking summer here, one day you could go to the beach (if there was one) and the day after you wear a warm jumper under the rain. This mozzarella, tomatoes and basil leaves salad is a celebration of the glorious “ON” in this intermittent summer with too many OFFs so far.
This is also my Italy and many memories associated with it. The dish represents the marriage between taste and simplicity; it is also what the Italian heat of July calls for: light food you don’t need to cook.
July in Italy. Remember, it’s the time of the year when you spend long afternoons indoor because outside it is scorching hot. You would get insane otherwise; a curfew applies, it’s what we call “controra”, a siesta that is, the moment of the day when you are allowed to sleep while mosquitoes are allowed to work on you (obviously they’re on duty when you’re on holidays).
My mum would come back from work tired and starving, she wouldn’t cook anything requiring stove and fire that could make her sweat even more. In some lucky days, she would bring “mozzarella di bufala”, the only cheese that deserves love and devotion usually accorded a deity. And there’s peace all around, in my feelings and in my mind.
When we try to fight against the heat with fans and air conditioners we are defeated already. We use curtains to stop the rays of light that are burning the grass outside. We don’t hear a sound coming from the streets because no one dares to challenge the curfew. There’s no remedy to the heat. Life has to slow down. We let time pass by, we sleep and eat fresh foods. There’s lots of siesta for us that comes with lots of dreams. Oh Italy.
Don’t ask me a recipe this time. I’d like to give you just two useful instructions.
Instruction number 1: buy the best ingredients you can. Fresh, high quality ingredients: mozzarella, tomato, basil and olive oil.
Instruction number 2: slow down and taste slowly. Like if you were getting ready for a shamelessly long siesta.