Italy is my second favorite place on Earth. New York wins first prize, in case you were wondering.
My parents lived there before I was even a zygote. We all lived there for a bit while I was a toddler. My father spent quite a while there on a Fulbright scholarship. Imagine my father as a really really smart Bluto (Animal House) to get the full picture.
There is a tape of me at the age of two having a conversation with my grandfather. I have a spectacularly heavy Southern accent and then suddenly I start speaking in perfect Italian. It was impressive for a three year old. Despite living there for a time and my perfect Italian, I remember almost nothing. I have only a memory of a carousel and of my Mickey Mouse sheets. Otherwise, nothing.
I spent my entire life hearing about how amazing Italy was. How gorgeous it is. How incredible the food is. One of my friends in high school went back to visit her family every summer and I burned with jealousy. Probably because she got to go to Gaeta. From her, I pretty much heard how hot the guys were. We were 16. It’s really all that mattered at the time.
I finally got to go back after I was married to Mr. Butterpants. We went on a belated honeymoon and spent time in Rome, Florence, and Positano. Heaven. Heaven.
I have a postcard my Dad sent me from Italy when I was a kid. It’s a picture of a cafe in the piazza in front of Pantheon. When my husband and I went, I took a photo to recreate the postcard. I’m not going to lie. I cried. I was so happy to be there. I was so happy to be in a space that I had stared at for so long. I was happy to be in a place that meant so much to my parents. It felt both unfamiliar and like I was finally home.
While we were in Italy, I ate Caprese salad, pomodoro sauce over whatever pasta was closest to my mouth, Paglie e Fieno, and gelato. Look, I’m a simple girl. I have simple needs. These foods are spectacular in their simplicity.
One day in Florence, we were ready for our seventh gelato of the day (I think it was 10 am) and stopped off at a gelateria. There was an osteria right next door so we decided to balance out the sugar with some… potatoes.
Potatoes and onions. Potatoes and onions are on my list of the top five foods I could eat every day and never get sick of.
Recently, I was missing Italy a bit. I kept flashing on those potatoes. So I made some. Man, did they hit the spot. It’s amazing how food can transport you. I was immediately back in that little osteria in Florence, a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed newlywed on my honeymoon. Lovely.
These are great breakfast potatoes, a side dish, dessert. Whatever you need.
Potatoes and Onions
1 large onion, sliced thin
4-6 Yukon gold potatoes (depending on the size), sliced thin
1 tbs. minced garlic
1/4 c.butter (I tend to use unsalted. I don’t know why.)
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
In a large frying pan, melt the butter over medium heat. I had to use a wok because I had a crapload of potatoes. Dump your sliced potatoes and onions in your pan. Fry for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally so the potatoes don’t stick together. Dump in your garlic, salt, and pepper. Continue stirring and frying until your potatoes and onions are tender and slightly browned. Eat.
Mr. Butterpants is obsessed with cheese and potatoes, so he added cheddar to his. He really liked that. So you could do that, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Be excellent to each other,