My second country for this project was Italy. I meant to do this a lot sooner, but December kind of got away from me. I don’t think I’ve watched an Italian movie before, so it was fun looking at all the options to decide what to watch. Unlike Thailand, there are quite a few Italian movies on Netflix, so that made it easier.

The book: The Eight Mountains by Paolo Cognetti

I really enjoyed this book, more than I expected to. It’s not my usual type of read, but I was drawn in to the characters immediately. The book is split into three parts, each part set during a different time of life in the friendship between two boys. One boy stayed in the mountains his whole life, while the other drifted in and out. There were lots of descriptions of mountains throughout the book, which might not be interesting to some, but I loved it. I don’t have a grasp on Italian geography, so I never knew exactly where the mountains were, but it was interesting to read about. Although this is only the first book I read this year, I think it’s going to be one of my favorites for 2021.

The Movie: Rose Island

The Movie Waffler
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Rose Island is based on the true story of a man who wanted to build an independent state in the 1960s. I first heard about this movie while reading an article about the story a month ago. Since it just came out on Netflix right before I was doing Italy, it was an easy choice for my Italian movie. Rose Island was fun to watch, and it also fit with the theme of The Eight Mountains. Both book and movie have characters who want to get away from mainstream society, whether that means living off grid up a mountain, or building their own independent state 6 miles out to sea.

Even though I already knew how the story ended based on the article, there were lots more details in the movie, plus it really brought the characters to life. One detail from the article that amused me throughout the movie was that they filmed it in a swimming pool. I kept trying to imagine each scene in a swimming pool instead of the ocean. Overall, I enjoyed the movie and would definitely watch it again.

The food: Pesto Lasagne

Let me preface this by saying, I’ve never cooked lasagne before. The lasagne I was hoping for- cheesy, delicious, soft noodles- did not happen. It started off easily enough. I sautéed the vegetables for a bit and was going to boil the noodles, until I realized the box said oven ready. Once the vegetables were ready, I started to layer the noodles. I think this is where I made a mistake. The recipe I glanced at said to pile two or three sheets, then sauce and vegetables. Maybe that would be better in a bigger dish, but mine was small enough that three sheets took up a lot of room. It also meant that it didn’t cook evenly, for some reason. The vegetables were fine. The cheese was fine. The pesto was fine. But the noodles? The noodles were a disaster. The top layer of noodles was crispy from being over cooked. The middle was a bit chewy, but okay. The bottom layer was somehow crispy from not being cooked enough.

All in all, I was really excited for this lasagne and was highly disappointed by the result. However, now that I know what I did wrong, I think I can successfully make this another time, so it’s not a total disaster. For this lasagne, I used carrots, zucchini, spinach, garlic, and bell pepper, but I think pretty much anything goes in a lasagne.

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