By Letizia Mattiacci
sk any of our bed and breakfast guests what they think of our dog Google and they'll tell you she's among the sweetest, most obedient, well-trained, and affectionate creatures they've ever met. The enchanted ones, acting a little like smitten courtiers, want to abscond with her to some faraway country, theirs.
But here's the problem (which most don't know): Google hates... dogs.
It's probably the consequence of mountain life. We're chock full of scenery but the canine social life isn't exactly top notch.
Google has grown up roaming freely in our garden, unencumbered by the presence of other large animals, aside from any number loving humans. This includes her immediate family and our B&B guests, who spoil her rotten.
By now, she's probably certain she's not a dog at all, just a fellow human in a somewhat different shape. As a result, she can treat dogs like disgusting losers, which in her eyes they are (they don't ever walk upright or give her treats!)
At times, her prima donna syndrome can become something of an embarrassment.
When friends come to visit us with their own dog she transform herself into a barking fury.
Last summer, we took her with us to seaside B&B when she made it very clear she wouldn't stay in kennel.
How could she stay in a kennel? Look at it! All those awful, lower class beasts around her. When we finally got to the B&B she was so excited she leaped from a 13-foot-high terrace, giving us the scare of our lives.
Yesterday, a lovely couple came by with their dog Trilly, a peaceful Spinone-Bernard Sennenhund cross. To our horror, Google bit her on her... ahem.... ass. Not once, mind you, but repeatedly. After which she ran around with tufts of black hair in her mouth.
Little does Google know that she just bit into the prized pet of the new foster family we've taken on for when we next need to go away. Last time we went to their house, she jumped in the goldfish pond. The silver lining was that she didn't figure out she could eat them.
As for the future, that's anyone's guess. What's she going to do? Re-attack Trilly? Will Trilly plot revenge? Will we all end up with bared-assed dogs?
For now, my only hope is that they don't join mandibles in an alliance against the fish. Otherwise we'll come back to red porridge.
Pumpkin soup (Serves 4)
¶ Dice the onion and soften it in two tablespoons of olive oil in a saucepan (large enough to hold the soup).
¶ Add the pumpkin, cover, and braise slowly until it begins to disintegrate.
¶ Add boiling water or stock and simmer for 10 minutes. Add saffron, season and puree until smooth. Cover to keep warm.
¶ In a separate pan, cook store-bought fresh or — better still — homemade egg noodles in plenty salted boiling water until al dente. Fresh tagliolini should take no more than one minute. (Don't be tempted to cook the pasta in the soup. The result will be chewy rather than soft and silky.)
¶ Drain and toss with one tablespoon of olive oil and the garlic.
¶ Now, quickly ladle the pumpkin puree into bowls, top with the pasta, a sprinkle of grated Parmesan, a drizzle of good extra-virgin oil, and serve immediately.
The author's Sicilian mother worked to prove her dignity in a time when most Italian women stayed at home.
Italy's best oranges come from Sicily, and until recently the northward trek was rare.
For those who can't stand big-store Christmas shopping, try the artisanal alternative — and then make cookies.
Even when things aren’t going your way (never mind Umbrian sunsets) there are always pumpkins.
When Google the Dog gets a whiff of figs, there's no more peace in the hills of Umbria.
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