How well do you know your neighbours?
I wish I knew mine better!
When I was little, I grew up on a block where everybody knew each other’s name. My babysitter was a teenager down the street who would play hopscotch with us up our sidewalk. Summer days were spent climbing the boughs of cherry trees with neighbourhood kids in true Von Trapp Family style. Mrs. So and So would wave hello and we would inevitably wind up at my best friend’s place two houses up for lunchtime. Life was safe, familiar and close to home.
Nowadays I am on a “smile and how-do-you-do” basis with the neighbours in my apartment. People are as friendly as can be, but hardly anyone opens their homes to one another. Why is that? Sometimes I get struck with the absurdity of it all. How is it that the denser we get in our living quarters, the farther removed we are from one another?
After living in my cozy apartment for about a year, I am clearly in need of more neighbourliness. How about you, do you live in an apartment too? Are you friends with your neighbours? I’d love to hear what you do to break the ice! Perhaps I should host a little apartment hall party and slip an invitation something like this under everyone’s door. OK, maybe I will lose the balloons but it’s the thought that counts, right?
As Mr. Rogers says: Won’t you be my neighbour!
Recently, I’ve heard some people say that Vancouver is a no-fun-city that has lost its sense of community. Do you agree? I think that most cities are facing the same dilemma these days with the increase of technologies that bring socializing into the palm of your hand. (Don’t I sound like your Mom!?)
However, all is not lost!–If you look closely, there are some incredible people out there who are trying to change this stranger-danger attitude. My friend Jorge Amigo has created an event Be My Amigo where strangers can meet and mingle. (Isn’t that a simple and brilliant idea?). Other organizations like Kinfolk plan dinner parties that aim to connect people in artistic and culturally enriching settings.
Last weekend I was lucky to be invited as a guest baker for a similar community event hosted by East Vancouver’s Marché Saint George. The ticketed dinner party was called Familia Creanza’s Olive Oil Tasting and Dinner and featured a menu of homemade delicacies from the head chef’s homeland, Puglia, Italy. The dinner was served in the stunning backyard garden of the Marché Saint George. It was truly a humbling experience to be involved in the preparation of this event.
My boyfriend’s sister and I whipped together a grand total of 8 Italian Crostata Pies (she made 4 more later on!) for this event. I have to say, I was a little nervous, but it certainly felt wonderful to bake this rustic, simple dessert for such a stunning and heart warming event.
Italian Berry Crostata Tarts
Yield: 1 crostata tart Bake Time: 25 mins Bake Temp: 350 degrees
Supplies: 1 spring form pan. 1 pastry knife.
Pastry Ingredients 2 cups all purpose flour 1/3 cup sugar 1/4 tsp salt 1 tsp baking powder 2/3 cup butter, cut into little bits 1 egg 1 egg yolk 1 tsp grated lemon rind Filling Ingredients 1 jar organic jam (your pick!) 1 tbsp lemon juice
Directions1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Measure flour, salt, baking powder, sugar into a large bowl and whisk together. Add butter chunks and cut with pastry cutter until mixture resembles small peas. 2. Gently mix together eggs and lemon rind in a small bowl, add and mix into the flour mixture then gather into a ball, reserving a small ball for the lattice. Cover the smaller ball in saran wrap and refrigerate. 3. Turn larger ball onto a slightly floured surface and roll into a 1/4 inch thick/ 8 inch wide circle. 4. Place rolled pastry into your springform pan and pat down. 5. Mix jam with lemon juice. Spread ontop of pastry 6. After refrigerating the small ball of pastry for 20 mins. roll out on a lightly floured surface and cut into 1 inch wide strips. These you will use for your lattice. Criss cross your lattice pastry strips on top of the jam layer. 7. Place crostata in centre of your preheated oven. Bake 25 minutes or until golden. Source: Canadian Living Magazine: July 2008. Serve fresh.
Here are some more photographs I snapped at the Puglian Dinner event:
I hope you have a wonderful weekend full of good music, new tastes and unexpected friendships!
PS: I dare you to say something nice to that stranger on the bus!