Wrinkled fingers and toes, sand in every nook and cranny, lunch sacks with empty oil-stained white baker’s paper, and serpentine hair that could pass as a sun-bleached mop head — all signs of a successful outing to the beach. Our daily trips to the cool, blue waters of the Adriatic were welcome escapes from the city heat during family visits to Southern Italy. Our little beach — perhaps with a bit of fantasy I like to think it was just ours — was a short drive away in a small stick-shift car packed to the brim with people. Family car after family car, we’d speedily caravan through the small towns toward our respite. The few, yet crucial, stops along the way had a single purpose: to fill our sacks with baked goods meant to sustain our time away. My favorite among these, by a long measure, was a simple focaccia.
With hardly a second thought, we’d buy several full sheet trays of the golden bread. The baker would cut the thick slabs into manageable pieces and wrap the entire thing in white paper, sealed shut with a shiny sticker — conceivably an attempt to elevate the humble, yet utterly otherworldly, snack.