McDonald’s Invades the Upper Tiber River Valley

Yes, McDonald’s finally invaded our Italian neighborhood.

When we bought our house in Sansepolcro, Italy eight years ago, there was only one McDonalds in the area–in Arezzo, 35  minutes away. And that was okay.  We were in Italy and had no interest in eating at McDonald’s.  I’m not against McDonald’s being there.  The Italians seemed to have embraced the brand as there are apparently more than 450 franchises scattered around the country.  I’ve even found them convenient.  In Italy.  When my oldest daughter was four years old and getting cranky as we were walking into the Siena city center from a parking lot, we walked by a McDonald’s.  And it was a life saver.  But in my neighborhood in Sansepolcro?  Didn’t need one.  Happy not to have one.

McDonald's Invades the Upper Tiber River Valley and we have the empty fries box to prove it.

So.  In the picture above, you see a carton of fries.  An empty carton of fries.  They are empty because we have eaten all the fries.  After many, many months of resisting the “new” McDonald’s that opened last year in nearby Citta di Castello, across the border in northern Umbria, we could resist no more.

Italian-Style Chocolate Mousse /Spuma di Cioccolata

Italian-Style Chocolate Mousse/ Spuma di Cioccolata is a great dessert.


Italian-Style Chocolate Mousse / Spuma di Cioccolata

When you think of great Italian desserts, I’ll bet you don’t think of chocolate mousse.  But the Italians like their spuma di cioccolata as much as the next guy. The word spuma  in Italian means mousse.  But it also means frothy.  This Italian dessert is sort of frothy as y0u spoon it into serving dishes but after a few hours in the fridge, you have yourself a proper mousse that is irresistible.  The optional splash of booze–in this case Grand Marnier–doesn’t hurt either.

Most of this dish can be made in your food processor.  First, fit a cold metal blade into your processor.  Whip a cup of heavy whipping cream for about 30-35 seconds.  As the cream is whipping, drop a tablespoon of powdered sugar down the feed tube.   The whipped cream will look like the picture down below.  I could have even stopped whipping a few seconds earlier.  Next time.  But…there’s nothing like your own freshly whipped cream.  With a spatula, take it out of the processing bowl and park it in its own bowl and refrigerate.  Do not clean the processing bowl.  No need to.

Don’t Miss The Monthly Arezzo Antique/Flea Market


Tatiana's jewelry table at the Arezzo Antique/Flea Market.

Meet Tatiana, one of the more than 500 vendors who travel from all over Italy to sell their wares at the Arezzo Antique/Flea Market.  The market is held in the vast Piazza Grande and countless side streets the first Sunday of every month and the Saturday before.  Except for September, when Arezzo hosts the yearly jousting match.  If you don’t know Arezzo here’s the lowdown: it’s about 50 miles southeast of Florence, the seat of its own Tuscan province.  There’s much medieval art to see in Arezzo, including Piero Della Francesco’s frescoes.  The town is beautiful.  It was the location for the Academy-award winning movie, “Life is Beautiful”.

On a future trip to Italy, try just once to visit the Arezzo Antique/Flea Market.  It makes many of those lists of the best flea markets in Europe.  There’s something for everyone here: artwork, furniture, pots, dishes, jewelry, bric-a-brac of all sorts, antique-whatevers, cloth, dolls, engravings, postcards.  All of it fascinating–and fun.

Endive Gorgonzola Appetizer



This endive gorgonzola appetizer will disappear from your table in minutes.

Lay of plate of endive Gorgonzola appetizers on the table and I guarantee you they will be gone in minutes.  And I don’t mean the dog will eat them.  My guests devoured them and I was only sorry I hadn’t made more.  And they’re low-carb, to boot!  Except for the honey but there’s just a drizzle of honey.

Summer Pasta with Salmon & Dill



I don’t think you’ll see this kind of pasta dish in Italy.  Italians don’t  generally eat cold pasta.   But we love them here in the U.S. Especially in summer.  They’re easy, versatile, portable and the only thing you have to cook is the pasta itself.  And oh, I have  an ulterior motive.  My garden is completely over-run with dill. It has been a massive invasion.  I expect to see it coming up through my living room carpet one morning. So this dish is a particularly delicious way to use up some of my fresh, and menacing, dill.  And let’s face it, dill really wakes up a dish!