How to Put Some Bling into Sad Green Beans

There are many hospitals in Rome and quite a few,  just like in London, named after a saint.  One of these is called the San Camillo hospital.  Now, we all know what hospital food is like, hardly ‘food’ at all, nothing to look at, tasteless and egregiously unappetising. And it is moreover very very very very plain, bland,   So for some reason completely unbeknownst to me, perhaps some wicked finger pointing dating back to goodness knows when, when conversation veers towards the topic of uninteresting food in Rome, very often people will make reference to San Camillo.  “Gosh, this is so tasteless, just the sort of fare you’d get at the San Camillo” might be one such comment.  Or: “Tell your mother that this wouldn’t do even at the San Camillo”.  Or yet again: “Oi! I’m going to add plenty of pancetta, we’re not at the San Camillo you know!”.  You get the picture.

And thus it is amongst some members of my family with regard to green beans.  They can so easily slide into the San Camillo slot when I serve them, just simmered and then seasoned with olive oil and lemon juice.  Some will refuse to eat them altogether.  Others will take the tiniest of portions and squeeze more lemon juice over them.  I happen to like them that way, so there, mneah.   It’s not as if I lose sleep over green beans.  I just happen to like them.

But I did have second thoughts over some leftovers in the fridge last week.


When I took it in the ‘look’ of that cold glass bowl, I had a San Camillo  moment, I have to confess.  It looked thoroughly underwhelming.  Sad even.  And so after a little head scratching, I went about ways of making these green beans a bit more interesting. Tell me what you think.  Here we go.


Lardo di Colonnata.   Lard.  Mmmm. Always good.

IMG_9487Some olive oil, chilli and garlic – classic concoction.

IMG_9488Rosemary needle, chopped very fine.  Now that’s different where green beans are concerned.

IMG_9489And though I am not a huge lover of balsamic vinegar (not in salads, that is), why not? I thought to myself.

So much for othe ingredients.  The cooking part was easy, for obvious reasons.

IMG_9490IMG_9491IMG_9492IMG_9493Don’t forget the salt too.

The balsamic vinegar last.


I think next time I will add less balsamic vinegar.  Probably the best thing is to add a little at a time.

IMG_9496I’m not sure I would bend over backwards to serve green beans this way every time but I think the final result was pretty good.

IMG_9497Nothing “San Camillo” about this whatsoever.  Tee hee.

4 thoughts on “How to Put Some Bling into Sad Green Beans

  1. Like you I’m totally happy with a well prepared dish of green beans dressed with olive oil and lemon. To me, it’s perfection. But hey, I would turn this down, either. There’s very little that a little cured pork won’t make taste better. 🙂

    Now if only I could find lardo on this side of the pond…


  2. Now you’ve shattered my belief that in Italy food is great everywhere, even in hospitals. Perhaps they have to keep it bland to avoid intolerances as much as possible? And overcooked to reduce the risk of foodborne illness? Research in NL showed that improving the food leads to patients eating more and recovering more quickly, thus saving a lot of money. I like green beans with pesto, a custom from Liguria.


  3. The research in NL needs to be spread to so many countries, and definitely in the hospitals I’ve been able to witness in Italy. You always get watery tea (no milk, it is not customary to put milk in tea in Italy) and those brittle biscuits called “fette biscottate”. All the food comes in plastic, individually wrapped, with plastic cutlery too. A bit like aeroplane food, yes? The pasta is overcooked and tasteless, and you don’t get fresh fruit. Maybe a cooked apple. I suppose that when is recovering from something major, one doesn’t even have a great appetite – but how about some really good chicken soup, for instance? I kid you not, it was very ‘normal’ for relatives of in-patients to bring food and drinks to their loved ones in hospital (I did that too with my mother, two years ago, bless her when she had to undergo brain surgery – she says she still remembers how good my pasta aglio, olio e peperoncino was!!!).


  4. Your comments about San Camillo food had me chuckling. I’m with Frank, I didn’t think you could have bad food in Italy…maybe not great, but certainly not bad. 🙂 I’m sure I would enjoy your green beans either way.


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