I AM ABOUT TO BUY A HOUSE IN A FOREIGN COUNTRY. A house with the beautiful name of Bramasole. It is tall, square, and apricot-colored with faded green shutters, ancient tile roof, and an iron balcony on the second level, where ladies might have sat with their fans to watch some spectacle below. But below, overgrown briars, tangles of roses, and knee-high weeds run rampant. The balcony faces southeast, looking into a deep valley, then into the Tuscan Apennines. When it rains or when the light changes, the facade of the house turns gold, sienna, ocher; a previous scarlet paint job seeps through in rosy spots like a box of crayons left to melt in the sun. In places where the stucco has fallen away, rugged stone shows what the exterior once was. The house rises above a strada bianca, a road white with pebbles, on a terraced slab of hillside covered with fruit and olive trees.
Bramasole: from bramare, to yearn for, and sole, sun: something that yearns for the sun, and yes, I do.”
Excerpt from Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
Fish in Crazy Water
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes—coarsely chopped, juices reserved
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
2 tablespoons minced parsely
1/8 teaspoon chopped fresh red chile, or more to taste
4 cups water
Four 6-ounce red snapper fillets, skin on
4 slices of grilled sourdough bread
In a deep skillet that’s large enough for the fish fillets to lie flat without overlapping, combine the tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, parsley, chile, a large pinch of salt and the water. Cover the skillet and bring the water to a steady simmer over moderate heat; simmer for 45 minutes.
Uncover the skillet and boil the liquid until it has reduced by half. Add the fish, skin side up, and cook for 2 minutes. Using two spatulas, gently turn the fillets. Season the fish with salt and simmer until just cooked through.
Put the grilled bread in shallow bowls and arrange the snapper fillets on top. Spoon the broth all around and serve.