Mum can I ask my friends to come over for lunch? Hazelnut coated pork cutlets

novembre 25, 2014

Hazelnut coated pork cutlets

My mother and my grandmother have hearts of gold. Ever since I was a child they always enthusiastically accepted my proposal to invite one or more friends for lunch, as to be able to do our homework together in the afternoon.

You know, I live in the countryside, so if you wanted to have friends for lunch you had to go through a long bureaucratic process. My friends’ parents had to agree since the previous day with the bus driver so that even my class mates could take the yellow school bus, the one which after school would drive to the countryside. My enthusiasm would begin right there, with the shared bus drive.

I was always so excited to share that journey which would last more than half an hour. For those who were not used to that long journey in the countryside among fields, white roads and villages, it was almost like a school trip. When I was alone, though, that was usually the time to indulge in some daydreaming: games, a little sister, huts in the trees, Christmas… I soon began to build castles in the sky.

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From the Medieval frescos to our table: tagliatelle paglia e fieno with Cinta senese meat sauce

novembre 20, 2014

tagliatelle paglia e fieno with Cinta senese meat sauce

Lately I spend several days a week in Florence. I’d rather have a tomato bread soup made as the Florentines do than how my grandma taught me, which is the Sienese way. Please, don’t tell her! Despite this, I am still deeply attached to my land and my culinary traditions, born and breed in the area around Siena, where you are surrounded by olive trees, vineyards, rolling hills, scattered cottages and gravel roads.

This is a land of reserved people, olive oil mills and wineries, bread and bean soups, wild herbs foraged along the roadside, Ricciarelli, panforte and cavallucci when Christmas comes, St. Joseph fritters made of rice, tripe and Cinta Senese.

In Siena, right in one of the main halls of Palazzo Pubblico, the public building overlooking Piazza del Campo, there is the famous Buon Governo fresco, painted by Ambrogio Lorenzetti in the XIV century. This fresco represents the allegory of the good and bad government in the city and in the country. In the side dedicated to the effects of good governance in the country there is a farmer, dressed in the fashion of the time, pushing a Cinta Senese. The animal is portrayed with accuracy and authenticity, characterized by the white belt (in Italian cinta) encircling the chest and by white front legs.

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Quince paste and a tour to the farmers’ market in Greve in Chianti

novembre 17, 2014

Mercato a Greve in Chianti

I woke up in a sunny Sunday morning of a warm late October. It was the perfect day to have a short trip to Greve in Chianti to visit the monthly farmers’ market. In my plans there was a quick tour and maybe a handful of good chestnuts, anything more. As soon as I arrived to Greve I had a light walk, inspired by that bright sunny day and a family lunch to be enjoyed in a few hours.

An hour later I went back to the car dragging four bags full of fruit, vegetables, bread, ceramics, a wreath with flowers and berries and a few jars of preserves… My car was full, my eyes were bursting with colours and smiles, my heart overflowing with gratitude for what Mother Nature gives us, from season to season, and my mind racing for all the ideas that were born there, among a basket of quinces and a handmade ceramic pot.

Beautiful and firm chestnuts from Casentino and Mugello closed a few family lunches and dinners, roasted in the wood oven just after the pizzas with their sweet, smoky taste. Onions were charming in their brilliant pink and purple skin, they seemed to come directly from a fashion show. Everything was fresh, alive, ready to be turned into something good that could give comfort and love.

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