My Italian Friends ;)

14 May

Hi everyone!
I would love to share with you this story. Erick and Sara are an italian couple who came to Miami on vacation in January this year.
We met because they were looking for some vegan treats in Miami… and they found me online. Since we met we have connected in a way that I am still surprised…they are such a wonderful couple !
I wanted to share with you the story of our friendship ( written by Sara).
Hopefully she will be contributing with this blog and with her recipes. I think is wonderful to share our cultures and experiences in vegan cooking 😉

Here is our story…

No one could imagine what was going to happen in an anonymous Floridian Thursday of three weeks ago, January, the 7th.

Erik and I were on holiday in Florida. In December 2009, we planned this fly-and-drive period of vacation with only one purpose: to rest after an extremely demanding 2009, demanding in different ways for both of us.

One of the things we like most of the USA is the variety of vegan friendly bars, restaurants and supermarkets. Some week before the departure, we usually spend our nights surfing the net mapping the vegan places we could go to during our itinerary. This due to the allergies we discovered in 2005: as Erik is allergic to diary products and I am allergic to pork and all its derivatives, the vegan way of cooking is perfect, adding the fact that we have learnt a lot about the food industry: it is absolutely unbelievable what they want us to eat!

Anyway, it has been our need of vegan kitchen that has driven us to Mari and her delicious Bunnie Cakes. As often happened, it has been by serendipity.

When we were still in Port Canaveral, Erik wrote down some addresses and names of vegan items that could have been of interest: here, we read for the first time about the Bunnie cakes and it was January, the 5th.

The day after, I looked into these cakes: I visited the website, watching the pictures and reading what Mari had wrote about her products. I have soon been very impressed by the attention she paid in cooking, avoiding contaminations through different allergenic items and being ready to cook biscuits and cakes suitable for specific allergies (like gluten). The most important information was missing: where could we have tasted these delicious sweets in Miami?

Without waiting a second, I wrote an email directly to Mari to ask more: the day after, at 10 o’ clock we were in “Juice and Java”, in 1346 Washington Ave, to have our fantastic vegan breakfast. We had a soy milk cappucino with – I would say – three biscuits and two cupcakes each! The night of the 6th, I wrote again to Mari to compliment her on the sweets, absolutely delicious: she answered after few moments, saying that she would have been at Juice and Java the day after, at 11am. Erik and I had planned to have breakfast there, so now there was a reason more to go.

The 7th started very promising.

A sequence of unexpected good news, related to our jobs, set the standard of the day.

In a shiny good mood, we drove through Collins Ave and crossed over to the Washington Ave, where we found the perfect parking lot, just in front of J&J’s door. It was only 9am: being early, we choose to have a first breakfast, while waiting Mari’s arrival, followed by a walk around the block.

At 11am, we came back. The waitress introduced us to Mari, who was sitting at the table: being shy, this help me a lot. Usually, I would have quite some difficulties to just walk in and introduce myself.

Immediately, we felt very good vibes. We soon realized, despite the distance, cultural differences and life experiences, that we were sharing the same ideas, in relation to food and health. In our case, we approached through the will of a more healthy life style, discovering that our disorders were most likely food related. In 2005, a deeper research guided us to a doctor, who explained us how allergens can be related to these disorders, physical or mental, such as hay fever or mood changes and many others. Since then, after having identified our allergens, milk and diary products for Erik and pork and its derivatives for me, we completely eliminated them from our diet. The positive effects of this choice were very soon evident: Erik’s hay fever reduced by more than 80%, and the capacity of concentration and vitality improved considerably for both of us.

You could imagine how amazed we were to find out that on another continent, distant thousand of miles, a venezuelan girl, married to an American man (Erick as well…!) came to the same conclusions.

After one hour with Mari, sharing our points of view, we felt that more time together was needed: that’s why we arranged to meet again the next day.

This encounter left us enthusiastic for the remainder of the day.

The 8th we spent more time together at J&J to continue our conversation: the original feeling grew stronger. The more experiences we shared the more the pieces were falling into place for all of us. Of course, while consuming in abundance cupcakes and cookies of different flavor!

As a result, Mari offered us to contribute in the writing the blog she was planning to start, with the purpose to spread our common food related findings.

The 9th we originally were supposed to leave Miami in the morning for Sarasota, through the Everglades. Due to the poor weather but specially to meet Mari, we decided to spend one more night in Miami. It was Saturday and Mari was off, so we met again: she provided us with the cupcakes necessary for the remainder of our journey: …thank you so much!

Our conversations soon turned into a sharing event of recipes, techniques and degustation: before leaving, I had prepared some supplies such as piadina (similar to fajitas) and cakes, that we gave to Mari for a professional evaluation…

Having planned to go out in the evening with Mari’s family, we left without taking a picture, despite the fact that I carried along my camera, and without a proper goodbye. And this sense of unfinished is something that would have followed us since.

Unfortunately, for unforeseen events, we couldn’t meet as planned that evening. However we kept hope for the next morning, before leaving. It didn’t happen.

For the next days, we regularly kept in touch via email, while having her delicious cupcakes every morning:

Unfortunately, the end of our journey was coming and we found ourselves at Orlando Whole Foods to have breakfast, before leaving the States. In this occasion, we arranged to say goodbye to Mari via Skype: again the unfinished… We lost the connection before finishing our call and few hours later, we were in the plane heading home.

Since then two weeks have passed and Mari is part of us now: I have made some changes in my cooking, implementing her tips and keep in touch via email, sending mine. Even if the time spent together was not much, a great feeling of deep friendship is now present.

Let us see what the future bears…

and here they are … what a cute wonderful couple 😉



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