November 22, 2007

ESD XXVI Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is an American holiday; I'm not American, so I get to interpret it pretty loosely. It's about being strangers in a new land, being welcomed and helped by the people living there, about sharing with friends and family, and even strangers, about expressing gratitude for whatever we have, and for helping those who may not be so fortunate. It's a concept that resonates strongly with me--I'm a stranger in a new land, I've been helped by the the people living here, and I'm extremely grateful to my new friends and family for welcoming me in Friuli. I think everybody can find some part of this holiday to celebrate--surely we are all grateful for this wonderful life we have.

And in the spirit of Thanksgiving here is a list of things to be grateful for on Thursday night. To Fra Jacques, who blessed the meal and was in turn grateful for the groceries brought by ESD members to be given to less fortunate members of his parish; to Lucio Degani who serenaded us with improvisations on his violin; to Joe Pennello, grateful for his second chance at life and success of his book launch, "The Penny Drops"; to Matteo Burani, who brought along the gorgeous wine from Felluga (see; to Mark Waters, who brought along music and goodies from the base at Aviano; to Betti Paron who provided nibbles; to Gianguido de Carvalho, Giovanna Pontelli and Kerry Hall who prepared the piece de resistance of the evening--the turkey along with all the delicious vegetables; to Penny Heysen for the sweets. And of course to Luigi Deciani, for being such a generous host of these ESD events this year, opening his home and heart.... Last but not least, to all ESD members who have shown their support, and have embraced this concept of sharing experiences and cultures on Tuesday evenings with enthusiasm. Thank you one and all!!

Remember--keep checking this blog for information about future ESD events.

Penny Heysen

November 13, 2007


Funny thing about these dinners--no matter how many familiar faces there are, there's always someone new. This Tuesday's dinner was no exception. We welcomed the Gasparis to their first ESD, and welcomed back some friends--Roberto Pirzio brought his mother Fey to delight us all.

And the Visconti Puglnigs excelled themselves with the simple menu at this ESD. The roasted pork and zucchini parmigiana warmed us all, and the homemade apple strudel from the talented Maria went down a treat. Good honest fare for a cold November night.

A special mention should go out for Grazia Massa, who brought along a selection of books that she had written and in some cases even illustrated. The evocative landscapes and their accompanying poems served as a reminder that summer is never all that far away.

Penny Heysen

November 6, 2007

ESD XXIV Cosy nights by the fire...

When the wind chills your cheeks, and the damp night seeps into your bones, the best thing to do is gather yourself up, and head for a warm hearth and the company of friends. I love the summer, and the coming winter always makes me a little melancholy, but last night's dinner with old and new ESD friends banished the gloom of winter, even if just for the night.

Fra Jacques gave us a brief history lesson on the Middle Eastern problem, and when talking of his life in Palestine, you could almost feel the sandy heat blasting from the desert (or maybe that was Luigi who had just thrown another log on the fire...).

And the menu itself also lessened the heavy weight of the coming winter, with a risotto made from the first radicchio di Treviso--reminding us that the cold winter also brings us some joys--red chicory, chestnuts, steaming bowls of soup, nights by the fire, and the cosy company of friends.

Penny Heysen