April 18, 2015 | Rome, Italy | Partly Cloudy 19°C

Little list of wonders

By Letizia Mattiacci
Published: 2015-03-27

Soak the strawberries, and dream.

here are moments in life that touch you partly because you never imagined they'd come to pass. There are others you might have imagined but still surprise you.

I remember visiting the Acropolis on a sunny November day and making straight for the Caryatid Porch of the Erechtheion. How many times had I admired the powerful stance of those women as images in high school textbooks? They seemed to bear the weight of millennia on their gentle heads. Finally, oblivious to the crowds, I was face-to-face with their likenesses.

I remember the mesmerizing sensation of watching a sunset from a Mayan pyramid in the ancient Guatemalan city of Tikal — and being distracted by movement in the fronds of nearby tropical trees. They were filled with multicolored Toucans staring at us with their funny beaks.

I recall seeing the golden-pink Saharan Erg for the first time, waves of dunes sweeping outward in all directions.

Now I can add receiving a test-print copy of my cookbook to my little list of wonders. I'd always wanted to write one but the idea had idled in the recesses my imagination — until I decided to spend a year trying to make it happen. Now it's in front of me, all 208 pages. It seems like a vision in its own way.

We had small party the other night that included my family and the publisher. In the end, everyone drifted away to bed and I was left alone with my book. That's when I thought back to myself as a little girl imagining the Acropolis, Mayan pyramids and great deserts, wishing on a star, as I did on my cookbook.

This simple recipe also belongs to my childhood. My mum never gave us strawberries with cream. Sicilian, she didn't believe in cream. Before we had strawberries, they had to be drenched in wine and sugar for at least half a day. The soaking coaxed out their dreamy taste. Maybe they also helped coax my many dreams to life.

Soaked Strawberries


  • 250 ml (1 cup) Vin Santo, moscato or a dessert wine of your choice.

  • 2-3 tablespoons of brown sugar.

  • Juice of half a lemon.

  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

  • 500 g (1 lb) strawberries, washed and sliced.


— Mix the Vin Santo and brown sugar in a small saucepan over low heat until the sugar is dissolved.

— Remove from the heat, add the strawberries, and set aside for 10-15 minutes, or until cooled to room temperature.

— Add lemon juice and vanilla extract and refrigerate for at least one hour, and up to a day.

Serve, eat, and dream on.

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Letizia Mattiacci

Letizia runs Alla Madonna del Piatto, an Umbrian cooking school and B&B, and has a blog.

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