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Leg of Lamb

– Part of our memories of England, Tuscany and now India –

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The dish I served at one of my first dinner parties I gave way back in England to introduce JS to some of my friends was, at his request “English Leg of Lamb with all the trimmings” and he still keeps talking about it. He absolutely loved it and I could have made this for him quite easily once a week then.
When later we went to Florence, this beautiful city, I happen to mention to some of our Italian friends the “English Leg of Lamb……” story and guess what! Yes – right, one day at a beautiful Lunch in the Tuscan Countryside they served “Tuscan Leg of Lamb with a spread of beautifully oven roasted vegetables” from their garden – both JS and I thought we had gone to heaven.

But with all this incredible deliciousness maybe secretly a few of Indian spices were missing? So, it happened that when we returned home to South India we managed to get a nice piece of Lamb from one of our meat suppliers in town and set about making for a change an “Indian Leg of Lamb….

All this happened nearly 14 years ago and over time all three variations merged somewhat and we came up with our own Lamb dish.

We managed to get this piece of meat, just around 1 kg, from our new Hypermarket and …… forgot about it for some time in our freezer, until the other day when I had some sort of clear-out.

So in order not to keep on talking about all this, here is what we did earlier this week. But be warned, the “heat” is on (to suit our own taste), but of course, as always, you can turn it down a bit – not too much, though!!

For 2 people I used:

1 x Leg of Lamb, just around 1 kg
6 x green chillies (1 x cut into very thin rings, the rest cut in half)
3 x Onions, peeled and cut into quarters
6 x Carrots, peeled and cut into little chunks (see photos)
6 x Tomatoes, skin removed and cut into quarters
6 x Potatoes, peeled and cut into halves
1 x whole garlic bulb
8 – 10 x garlic cloves, peeled
Some slices of fresh ginger
1 ½ x tsp of Fennel seeds
1 ½ x tsp of Cumin powder
2 x Tbsp Chilli powder
1 ½ Tbsp Garam Masala powder
Salt and black pepper, to your taste
Some Bay leafs
1 whole bunch of fresh Coriander, washed, roots removed
1 x small bunch of fresh Mint, washed, roots removed
1 x handful of olives (from a jar)
1 x Tbsp good Balsamic Vinegar
1 – 2 x Tbsp of Malt Vinegar (check for your taste)
1 – 2 x cups of Water (mixed with the 2 vinegars)

How to prepare your Leg of Lamb:

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On a large baking sheet (big enough to hold the whole leg) put the following: chilli powder, cumin powder, garam masala powder, some salt and black pepper; mix this well, take your Leg of Lamb and just lay it on top of all your above spices and cover the whole leg well from all sides.

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Then, with a sharp knife, cut as many gashes into the meat as you like, (I cut 10) and stuff each one with a whole peeled garlic pod (remember, our garlic is small and so I use more here in India then I would back in Europe). I also cut 4 more gashes which I stuffed each with a sliver of fresh ginger. Cover lightly with a clean cloth and keep aside.

Pre-heat your oven to 200 C.

How to prepare the “bed” for the Leg of Lamb:

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Take a baking pan (as in the photograph) – line the base loosely with a number of bay leaves, add all the green chillies, potatoes, carrots, tomatoes, onions, the garlic bulb, olives.

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Sprinkle some salt over the vegetables and then lay your Leg of Lamb on top of all this.

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And now here is something we learned in Tuscany, cover the meat with all your fresh mint and coriander. This not only gives your meat a subtle flavour but also protects it from coming in direct contact with the foil.

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Mix your 2 vinegars with the water and pour all around the meat and a couple of teaspoons of olive oil (you can of course also use vegetable oil) directly over the meat.

Now cover the whole lot loosely with foil and put it in the pre-heated oven for some time.

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Some time’ I say here, because it all varies from meat to meat and from oven to oven – never the 2 are the same!! So start of as usual, but keep checking after 1 ½ hours.

I checked this time after 2 hours but the meat was not quite ready, so back in it went again for another 20 minutes, checked, done! The smell was enticing – the meat came nearly off the bone.

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I let it rest, with cover on, for 15 minutes and then we were able to sit down for our Lunch.

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N.B. We also like to add some (frozen) green peas, but unfortunately I had non in the freezer this time.

Re the spices, of course you can tone this down a bit, but remember, this is not a traditional ‘European Leg of Lamb’.

Since I do not eat much rice, but enjoy lots of vegetables, I will include more carrots, onions and tomatoes next time.

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So, that’s it! Guten Appetit.

Namaskaram
Carina

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Carina’s Version of “Polpette al Sugo”

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This is my very own quick version of a sort of “Polpette al Sugo” – the original we often have when back in Italy – nothing can beat those wonderful fresh Italian tomatoes and their addictive (at least for us) “ mozzarella di buffalo

Prep time 20 mins cooking time 45 mins Serves 4

1 lb. lean beef, minced 2 x (or Chicken, if you prefer)
1 x cup fresh white breadcrumbs
2 x garlic cloves, crushed
3 x Tbsp Parsley, chopped finely
Salt and pepper, to your taste
1x egg, slightly beaten
150 g x mozzarella cheese (cut into appr. 16 small cubes)
1x Tbsp vegetable oil
1 x large onion, finely chopped
400 g x fresh tomatoes, skin removed and squashed with your hands
1 x pack of spaghetti

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1.. Take a bowl; add beef, breadcrumbs, garlic, half the parsley, salt and pepper and the egg, mix well.
2.. Take one of the previously cut cheese cubes and 1 large tsp of beef mixture and cover the cube with this.
3.. Take large pan, heat oil, add prepared meat balls and brown on all sides on medium heat.

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4.. Add chopped onion, cook for 3-5 mins, and then add all the tomatoes with their juice. Simmer, cover with lid and cook for another 30 minutes.

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5.. Uncover pan and continue cooking for another 10 mins, so that sauce will reduce and slightly thickens.

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6.. While all this is going on, boil your spaghetti following packet instructions; but keep ‘tasting and testing’ – don’t overcook pasta.
7.. When done, drain and put into a slightly warmed big bowl.

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8.. Serve with the Meat Balls, sprinkled with the remaining parsley, from a separate bowl.

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NOTES:
With this I often just serve a nice crisp green salad or a tomato salad, which JS loves very much.

Also occasionally I add a couple of teaspoons of Curry powder to the meat mixture – it always depends who is coming and joins us for a meal. It really is purely a question of individual taste.

Of course you can also use tinned chopped tomatoes if you really have to.

Buon Appetito – Guten Appetit
Carina

‘TUSCAN CHICKEN WITH CAPERS’ or memories of Le Celle!

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Once again, Easter came and went. Life here has turned very quickly back to its normal hectic happening, and with that for me the question “what to cook for the family and what to post on my Blog” became a sort of minor issue.

Instead of going to sleep at night I lay awake thinking what to shop, cook etc. etc. I wanted to go away for a little while from my Indian dishes – like going international; to places where we had been in the past and where we sampled the local food.

So, Chicken jumped into my mind (I love chicken, cooked any which way!) So, one quick look into my freezer and having found a pack of Drumsticks I then opened my fridge and found a freshly opened bottle of Capers. And with that my memory jumped back just a few years ago when Jo and I once again were staying in Florence, this beautiful city. During that holiday friends took us in their car out into the Tuscan country site past the little town of Cortona to the beautiful Convent de Le Celle, which is a 13th-century Franciscan Convent located in Le Celle, just outside Cortona. A visit never to be forgotten – so beautiful and peaceful.
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On the way back we then briefly stopped in Cortona for a light lunch and when I saw this dish, Chicken with Capers, I simply had to try it. I love Capers and use it quite often in my cooking, especially with fish, eggs, etc. And also I had just seen the courtyard walls at Le Celle covered with Capparis spinosa, the caper bush but unfortunately for me the fruit was not matured enough to be picked.
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Now back home here in Kerala I now like to cook this dish whenever I am able to find a jar of capers.
So, not to leave you too long in suspense, here is my re-creation of this delicious dish, which I named simply:

‘TUSCAN CHICKEN WITH CAPERS’ or memories of Le Celle!
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For 2 people you will need:

4 chicken drumsticks (or more, if you are hungry)
1 large Onion, finely minced in your Mixy
Some salt and black pepper
Minced parsley, a very generous amount, app. ½ cup or so
2-3 Tbsp. of well-rinsed capers (whole)
Chicken broth, app. 1 ½ cup
3 Tbsp. of white wine vinegar
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Some extra parsley for decoration.
How to cook:
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Heat your Wok with ½ the oil over medium heat, add the minced onions with a sprinkling of salt, and cook until soft. Stir once in a while.
When cooked transfer onions to a plate. Add remaining oil to Wok and turn up heat slightly.
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Now add your Chicken drumsticks (I like to rub them lightly with a mixture of salt and black pepper) and gently fry those all around until they are nicely golden. Remove and also keep on a plate.

Add onion puree, parsley and the capers to Wok, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes. After this add broth and vinegar (check, you might want to use a bit more or less of vinegar – depending on your personal taste), followed by the chicken drumsticks and their juices.
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Gently stir, cover, keep heat on low and simmer until cooked to your liking.
Creamy mashed potatoes and some slightly steamed vegetables taste particularly good with this.
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Guten Appetit, my friends,
Carina

Valentine – Memories of Torcello

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                                                          Love is indescribable and unconditional.
I could tell you a thousand things that it is not,
but not one that it is.
– Duke Ellington

2V ….is for VALENTINE!
Right now the Internet is crowded with advertisements to buy this, that and the other for your loved one on the occasion of Valentine Day. Buy, buy, buy is the bombardment onto your brain, conscience and purse. So a small fortune will be spend on highly overprized flowers, mainly deep red roses, chocolates, champagne etc. etc.

Not in this house thou, take me for example – I loathe deep red roses (call it bad memories), don’t particular care for chocolates and champagne…….! hmm, now that is a totally different matter, but sadly this we cannot get here easily (so we will have to wait for another trip to Le Paris!).
JS today surprised me with two things: he wants to take me out for Dinner and a bit of dancing on Valentine’s Eve and he also wanted me to cook for him one of his favourite Pasta dishes for Lunch taking him (and me!) down a very beautiful memory lane.

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Venice lovers know of this beautiful little island just off the northern end of the Venetian Lagoon. For JS and I there has and never will be a time we visited Venice when we would not take the boat and motor away from the main frenzy of tourists from all over the world in order to enjoy nearly a whole day in the far more peaceful surroundings of this beautiful little island – Torcello!

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On the odd occasion we not only had our customary lazy lunch there but even spent a night in the famous LOCANDA CIPRIANI. Heaven – sheer Heaven!

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The Locanda and the Island deserve their own story, but another time, for now just enjoy the recipe given here and maybe you too have your own memory of this place; do let me know. So, at my very own Valentine’s request I give you today

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Memories of Torcello
(i.e. Spaghetti, Prawns in a creamy caper-white-wine sauce)
For 2 servings I used today:

½ lb spaghetti
½ lb of cleaned/deveined prawns
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 Tbsp capers in their brine
1 big handful of Spring onions (greens and all), chopped, app. 2 cups
1 Tbsp crushed dry red pepper flakes (adjust to your personal taste)
1 large lemon, zest and the juice of…
½ cup of dry white wine (adjust to your personal taste)
¼ cup of heavy cream
Salt to taste

Preparation:
Boil your Spaghetti in a large pot of salted water until just ‘al dente’.
Wash prawns, pat dry and add some salt, mix.
Heat ½ of your olive oil in a wide pot (I used my Wok), add prawns and cook only for 2-3 minutes maximum i.e. until they turn just a bit pink. Lift out of the oil and keep aside.
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Now add the rest of the oil and all the spring onions for another 2-3 minutes, keep stirring all the time. Add the capers and the chilli flakes and cook these for app. another minute. Add lemon zest and juice and white wine and simmer for another 2 minutes or so.
Take ¾ – 1 cup of the cooking water from the boiling spaghetti, add this to the pan together with the cream. Simmer very gently for another couple of minutes.
When Spaghettis are cooked remove from their water with a tong and move them straight into the sauce.
Gently mix all this together. Garnish with a few more red chilli flakes, green Spring onions and prawns and serve with a big smile to your loved one.
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Mangia Bene – Enjoy our memories.
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PS: For a more in-depth story re. Valentine’s Day, please read JS own story on his personal blog http://www.manningtreearchive.com : “The Roots and Wings of Valentine

PPS: Sadly I lost most of my pictures in a computer crash, hence I used other sources.

EPIPHANY– 6th January

It is today that Christians across the world celebrate the feast of Epiphany which marks the official end of the Christmas season.

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These are the “Three Wise Men” from our own private Collection.
And here is my last music video for this season – just enjoy!


The Mediaeval Baebes ‘We Three Kings’

I leave you now with 3 beautiful pictures of the Magi

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Adoration of the Magi by El Greco, 1568, Museo Soumaya, Mexico City (Photo: Wikipedia)

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Adoration of the Magi by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, 17th century (Photo: Wikipedia)

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The Three Magi: Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar, from a late 6th century mosaic at the Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, Italy. (Photo: Wikipedia)

Carina

Meine eigene FREIE Uebersetzung:
Heute ist der Tag wo Christen in der ganzen Welt das Fest der Heiligen Drei Koenige feiern welches auch das offizielle Ende der Weihnachtszeit ist.

Dies sind die Figuren der Drei Koenige aus unserer eigenen Sammlung.

Und hier ist mein letztes Musik Video fuer diese Weihnachtszeit – geniesst es!

Und hier sind noch drei wunderschoene Photos der Weisen.

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L’Adoration desmages by Albrecht_Dürer – Photo. wikipedia

PADOVA – Giotto and San Antonio

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For the past 12 years or so this beautiful little town is our first stop of our annual Italian Holiday.

Coming from India on EMIRATES via Dubai we land at Venice airport and then take a short, only 30 minutes ride by road right into the centre of Padova.

It was my husband Jo, who had visited Padova previously, who took me there for my first visit – I was full of anticipation to see with him this town and all it has to offer.

He had already wisely booked our tickets, the queues can be very long and often there is also a sort of waiting list for visitors, to view the famous artwork at the Scrovegni Chapel (commonly known as the Arena Chapel) by the Italian Painter and Architect from Florence, Giotto di Bondone, but now always referred to simply as “Giotto”.

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It is one of the places I urge everyone to see when visiting Padova – I promise, you will leave this place in awe and most likely many of you want to come back.

Other places to see are of course Basilica de San Antonio de Padova, the Shrine of our beloved Saint.

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For you who are interested I refer you to two, more in depth articles in Jo’s personal blog http://www.manningtreearchive.com , viz., Viva Italia – 1: Padova – An Oasis of Calm (06.09.2012) and Viva Italia – 2: Santuario dell’ Arcella – Illustrious and Sublime (30.09.2012)

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Worth a visit are also St. Georges Oratory, the Roman Ruins, Basilica Abbaziale di Santa Guistina, Orto Botanico di Padova, etc.

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Orto Botanico di Padova, which is the oldest University botanical garden in the world and included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

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On my continuing journey around some of my favourite places on this earth I now leave you with this video and the beautiful powerful voice of Friar Alessandro from his Album “Voice of Peace” – relax now, listen and most of all – enjoy!

Friar Alessandro singing “Amazing Grace” from his album “Voice of Peace”

See you soon again, my Friends!

Carina
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Meine FREIE Uebersetzung hier:

Fuer die letzten 12 oder so Jahre ist diese schoene kleine Stadt zu unserem ersten Anreiseaufenthalt fuer unsere italienischen Ferien geworden.

En route von India via Dubai on EMIRATES wir landen in Venedig und dann ist es nur eine 30 minuetige Fahrt in das Zentrum von Padua.

Es war mein Mann Jo, er war frueher schon einmal in Padua , der mich hier zum ersten mal begleitete und ich war voller Freude mit ihm diese Stadt und was sie zu bieten hatte zu sehen. Klugerweise hatte er schon unsere Eintrittskarten gebucht, die Warteschlangen koennen sehr lange sein und oft gibt es auch noch so eine Art von Wartezeit fuer die Besucher, die wie wir die beruehmten Werke des Malers und Architekten aus Florenz von Giotto di Bondone, der aber jetzt nur allgemein “Giotto” genannt wird in der Scroveni Kapelle (allgemein als Arena Kapelle bekannt) zu bewundern.

Dies ist einer der Orte die ich ganz besonders empfehle fuer jeden Padua Besucher und ich verspreche, dass Ihr voller Staunen von hier weggeht und viele werden sicherlich auch wieder zurueck kommen.

Andere Orte die man sehen muss sind natuerlich die Basilika (Dom) de San Antonio de Padova, den Schrein unseres geliebten Heiligen.

Wenn Ihr weiter hieran interessiert seid verweise ich Euch auf Jo’s eigenen Blog http://www.manningtreearchive.com ganz besonders auf “ Viva Italia – 1: Padova – An Oasis of Calm (06.09.2012)” und “ Viva Italia – 2: Santuario dell’ Arcella – Illustrious and Sublime (30.09.2012)”

Sehen sollte man auch St. Georges Oratory (St. Georges Oratorium), die Uberreste der roemischen Ruinen, die Basilica Abbaziale di Santa Guistina, den Orto Botanico di Padova, welcher der aelteste Universitaets Botanischer Garten in der Welt ist und auch jetzt zum UNESCO Kulturerbe gehoert.

Auf meiner weitergehenden Reise zu den Plaetzen auf dieser Erde die ich besucht habe verlasse ich Euch fuer heute mit diesem Video und der wunderschoenen maechtigen Stimme von Pater Alessandro von seinem Album “Voice of Peace” (Stimme des Friedens).

Bis bald, meine Freunde

Carina

Vatican City ….. and two birthdays

Christ, our Saviour was born today and around the world Christians celebrate His birth.

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There has never been a time that Jo and I would visit Italy without having a few days break in the Eternal City, known as Rome! But today I am not taking you on a journey through this breathtaking city, but to another city – Vatican City!

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On 17th December was also the birthday of our Holy Father, Pope Francisco (Pope Francis), who was born in 1936 in Buenos Aires/Argentina.

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Amongst many other things the Holy Father is also known for his great fondness for the traditional music of Argentina.

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A long time ago I was given an LP recording of the complete “Misa Criolla” (loosely translated: Creole Mass) by its composer Ariel Ramirez when I lived for 3 happy years in Trinidad/W.I. But I have to confess, that in my ignorance in those young days  I did not think for a moment that I would enjoy or even play “church music” that often, but …. as soon as I heard the voices of ‘Los Fronterizos’ I was hooked.

Navidad Nuestra. Ariel Ramírez, Los Fronterizos, Jaime Torres y Domingo Cura. 1967

The voices, the instruments, the harmony and the joy in their performance took me over and for literally years this record became one of my precious ones – it manages to stir up a lot of emotions in me.

So, could I find a better group to say musically “Happy Birthday Holy Father from my family” – no, in my opinion I could not!

And so, here ends my little musical journey around the world for today. Hope you still enjoying this.

Carina
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Vatican City… …. und zwei Geburtstage.

Christus unser Retter wurde heute geboren und um die ganze Welt feiern Christen seine Geburt.

Da war nie eine Reise nach Italien ohne dass Jo und ich nicht fuer einige Tage in die Ewige Stadt, die als Rom bekannt ist, kamen. Aber heute will ich Euch nicht auf eine kleine Reise durch diese atemberaubende Stadt nehmen, aber in eine andere Stadt – Vatikan Stadt!

Am 17. Dezember war auch der Geburtstag unseres Heiligen Vaters, Pabst Francisco (Pabst Francis) der im Jahre 1936 in Buenos Aires/Argentinien geboren war.
Abgesehen von vielen anderen Dingen ist der Heilige Vater auch fuer seine grosse Vorliebe fuer traditionelle argentinische Musik bekannt.

Vor einer langen Zeit bekam ich eine LP Platte mit der kompletten “Misa Criolla” (frei uebersetzt: Creolische Messe) komponiert von Ariel Ramirez geschenkt. Ich lebte damals fuer 3 sehr glueckliche Jahre in Trinidad/W.I. Aber ich muss hier eingestehen, dass damals in meiner jugendlichen  Unerfahrenheit ich nie fuer einen Moment daran dachte, dass ich diese music moegen wuerde oder sogar diese “Kirchenmusik” oft spielen wuerde, aber …. sobald ich die Stimmen von “Los Fronterizos” hoerte war ich eingefangen.

Die Stimmen, die Instrumente, die Harmonie und die Freude in ihrem singen und spielen haben mich total eingefangen und fuer echt viele Jahre wurde diese Aufnahme einer meiner liebsten – sie wuehlt eine ganze Menge Emotionen in mir wach.

So, konnte ich deshalb eine bessere Gruppe finden um musikalisch “Happy Birthday Heiliger Vater, from my family” zu sagen – nein, meines Erachtens konnte ich das nicht!

Und so, hier endet meine kleine musikalische Reise um die Welt fuer heute. Hoffentlich geniesst Ihr sie noch.

Carina