Fear of flying, roast chicken and marriage

I believe in indulging in negative feelings when they arise. For me, it is the only way to reason myself to the other side. But considering in the last 15 years I have boarded airplanes an average of once a month, my fear of flying is not an easy one to handle. I have tried everything to quell the slithering sense of mild anxiety that seizes me the 2 to 3 days before I take off for my long Italian summer break every year: from sleeping it off, to acupuncturing it away to distracting it out of my system. Nothing works. Pills can soften the edge, but they leave me foggy and unsure of where to next.

As I walk through this particular bout of travel related fret, I find it is more than the uncontrollable panic that being in an airplane can cause me (though those who experience it, will understand what I am describing). It is the unease of leaving behind whom, where and what make the fabric of a life I love.

The old friends who might need me through a rough patch, the new ones with whom I just started a conversation I do not wish interrupted, the students who enjoy my classes. The goods of the summer markets, my colorful loft, my neighborhood, my causes.

Johnny and Pie for blog

And of course, and most of all, my husband John. I have far from the perfect marriage. In fact, my marriage is being deeply tested right now. But our choices, our brains, our hearts, our laughter overlap on so much and so often, that I have known from our first kiss he'd be the companion of however many years there would still be for me.

I know he will spend the next two months buried even more than usual in his work, that he will be soothed and saddened by the echoes of a situation on temporary hold, that he will miss our child more than he can voice, that he will be relieved and pained by my absence at the end of a challenging year.


And though he will not make an effort to assuage my fear of flying, I know he loves me and that he alone knows the why of my wistful smile as we let each other go for a bit. His foibles make me love him all the more, so I strengthen the bonds the only way I know how, by cooking his favorite roast chicken.


Pollo arrosto con pane raffermo e verdure Roast chicken with day old bread and vegetablesPollo arrosto

for 6 people 1 chicken salt 2-3 thick slices stale bread in large cubes 4 medium yellow potatoes peeled and wedged 1 onion in chunks your choice of seasonal vegetables in chunks pepper olive oil 1 lemon zested and cut in half 2 garlic cloves a generous bouquet of your choice of herbs

The day before, season the chicken very, very generously generously inside and outside with salt and let sit over night in the fridge. When ready to roast, take it out to bring to room temperature.

In the meantime, season the vegetables and cubed bread with salt, pepper, lemon zest, olive oil and the juice of half the lemon. Toss well and distribute evenly on the bottom of a roasting pan. Place a roasting rack on top.

Season the chicken well inside and outside with salt and pepper. Stuff its cavity with the remaining half lemon, garlic cloves and herbs.

Place the chicken on the rack breast side down untied and somewhat splayed. Bake at 450˚F for about an hour, depending on its size.

When about 15 to 20 minutes from done, turn the chicken breast side up to crisp the skin.

When done (test by all the usual methods: loose leg joints, clear liquids from the thickest part), remove and let rest for 5 minutes. Carve as you usually would and serve on a platter over the roasted vegetables.


  • For this recipe, I have used everything from carrots, to fennel, to Brussels sprouts, to zucchini. Let the season be your guide. And the same goes for the herbs.
  • I have re-purposed many types of bread for this dish, from Italian to country, from baguette to pullman. I do advice leaving the crust on only if you like the crunch, otherwise remove it.
  • If you do not have a roasting rack, you can use a cooling rack or simply place the chicken directly on the vegetables.