I am blogging today in Holland. Yes, The Netherlands. When I was young and complained of going camping in Oregon for the zillionth time, my Dad would say, "well, it's not like we're in the Netherlands or something!" So my youthful vision of The Netherlands was one of mystery and isolation, a place to go if you are banished. So I sent a photo to my Dad, "say Pops, The Netherlands, they're not so bad!" I wouldn't dream of trading my knowledge of Oregon and time with my family for anything, but I am happy to report, The Netherlands is a beautiful place to visit. In Amsterdam, the canals remind me of Venice, Italy while the beer pubs, light rail trains and bicycles resemble my hometown of Portland. The tucked away neighborhoods are reminiscent of San Francisco with lots of little eateries on an international scale. While I am enjoying thoroughly my soggiorno away from Italy, there have been days I regret leaving a food lovers paradise .... or just paradise in general. Going into our second week of traveling I have eaten my fair share of pancakes, hamburgers, fries, croquettes, gouda sandwiches and sausages. When Michel announced he and Marco, our 10 year old son, were on a quest for hotdogs today for lunch, I drew the line then and there. Off they went in search of the perfect "dog" and I stayed in our guest home looking for something to eat. What did I have in the kitchen? Olive oil of course (purchased from the neighborhood Italian specialty shop), sea salt and garlic. Rice and Indian spices in the pantry. But the great surprise was the tiny herb garden on the back patio, full of cilantro. Within 20 minutes, I had lunch -- cooked rice in Indian spices and pureed cilantro with lots of olive oil. With a garden, small or large, and high quality olive oil, you will never, ever go hungry. You will provide your body with nutrients and healthy antioxidants to ward off illnesses. The added bonus of using extra virgin olive oil is that it raises your serotonin levels which prevents overeating. If you love the simple pleasures of life, then incorporating high quality, flavorful extra virgin olive oil in your cooking will enrich your culinary experience. I have learned my lesson .... don't forget to pack my Casal Cristiana Extra Virgin Olive Oil! It is so versatile for cooking, emulsifying and finishing off a dish for flavor. I miss the olive trees in Le Marche, so I couldn't resist taking a photo of this lonely tree amidst the tulips at the flower market in Amsterdam. Soon I will be back home to the landscape I have fallen in love with .... olive groves dotting the rolling hills with our village Torre di Palme and the Adriatic Sea in the near distance. Buona vacanza tutti e buon appetito!