I left my home in Washington State in 1996 and remember writing the word ‘Rome’  in my journal; I had never traveled out of the country and had absolutely no reason to think I would be going to Europe let alone Italy, any time soon. But I did. In December of 1997 I traveled with a group of college students to Rome and spent a little more than two weeks helping in the construction of bedrooms for a church family there. I’d only known The Professor a month before leaving on that trip – we were just good friends and had even discussed the fact that neither of us were looking for a relationship.




I helped cook for the group of close to 30; our hosting family were Italians who spoke both Italian and English and even though I didn’t know a single word of Italian, I loved being in the kitchen and feeding our crew. One of my jobs was to set my alarm for 3am each morning and walk to the local bakery for bread. I remember the streets being nearly empty but as the sun began to rise, tall apartment buildings took shape as I walked that stretch from our apartment to the neighborhood bakery. It was bustling with women – all speaking Italian in a rapid cadence; neighbors greeting one another, quick to place their orders, pay and head out the door to the next market.


The neighborhood knew ‘Americans’ were in town and since I was an unfamiliar face, they were pretty sure I belonged to ‘that group.’ All I could do was stand in front of the case, point to the type of bread I wanted and hold up my fingers to indicate how many of each I was going to purchase; then I handed all the Italian currency I had in my pocket to the clerk – she made the transaction, returning any change coming to me. Back at the apartment, we gathered in the dining hall, broke off chunks of fresh, warm-from-the-oven bread, heady with the smell of yeast and slathered real Italian Nutella all over that beautiful bread. Makes my mouth water just typing this.


I made that trek every day and I loved it; and somehow I also knew I wanted to return to Italy with The Professor.

Fast-forward to 2014 and The Professor and I have been married for almost 17 years; the ‘just friends’ thing didn’t last very long and in fact, we were married a little less than 8 weeks after I returned home. And my dream of going back to Italy with The Professor has been realized as this was our third trip to Italy – all of which have been connected to the Jovial Culinary Getaways. We both learned so much as participants in the Gluten-Free class and I’ll be sharing a few more posts but we left Italy eager to learn more – more about the culture, more about the people, more about the food.


We ate incredibly well: ciabatta, bagels, foccacia, pizza, salad, stuffed ravioli, fish stew, gratined tomatoes, lamb, rabbit, risotto, cannoli, gelato, cake, cupcakes, pie and a jam crostata similar to this one – and it was all gluten-free – and it was all amazing.






  2. Love this. Bookmarking to make. I love your story-telling. Great romance. Great way to if all happening the way it’s supposed to. Italy is one special place in this world. I’ve said I’ll marry in Italy. I pray it’s in God’s will for me.

    I feel like maybe someone out there like yourself actually reads my 1k word posts, too! Write on. Bake on.

  3. Gorgeous. The memories…the photographs…the recipe. Drinking up this post slowly on this hot Friday afternoon!

  4. This is absolutely beautiful and I miss making tarts and things with crust. I can’t wait to give this a try.

  5. This looks beautiful! Re: the all-purpose gluten-free mix you call for – do you have a preference? Does your mix include xanthan gum? Thank you so much for sharing your experiences!

    • Hi Beth ~ Thanks so much for your question! I’m going to answer here but I’ve also added a head note on the original post to clarify for anyone else who would like to make this tart.

      We make our own GF flour mix using brown and white rice as well as a small amount of buckwheat flour, potato and tapioca starch; you can also use a ready-made mix but omit the xanthan gum if your mix already contains either psyllium or other type of gum. Our preference is to use a ratio of 40 percent starch to 60 percent flours but I know other gluten-free bakers who prefer varying ratios – it’s a matter of playing around and finding what works best for you in your own kitchen. We like to use buckwheat in most of our recipes because it has a bit more protein and we like the flavor – but some folks find the flavor too strong. And finally, most commercial products on the shelves these days use only a combination of white and brown rice flours and adding starches – this will give you a more ‘white bread’-type product – again, it’s just a personal preference. I’m happy to answer any other questions!

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