Chiara has been my pen pal in the last 17 years, we started writing long and passionate letters with sharp colourful drawing pens and a round teenager handwriting, now we exchange quick messages and e-mails, to play along with the family busy schedule.
In seventeen years we exchanged a thousands of letters, e-mails and some photos, two phone calls and just one visit three years ago, then we managed to meet again eventually and we spent the Easter time together, in joy and disbelief, with her, her husband Luca and her two smiling babies, Sara and Davide.
We talked and talked, till we lost our voice, we talked in the car, at the table, on a seesaw, in the park and under the porch to skip the sudden downpour, while the kids run and run to fall asleep in the early evening, just after a quick dinner.
We pretended to be tourists – cameras, water and cap – in Colle Val d’Elsa and San Gimignano, where we ate the famous schiacciata (in this case a real savoury flat bread, not that schiacciata): fluffy and tasteful, with tiny puddles of olive oil and salt, still the same since I was a child and my mum was a child, too.
We played with the Lego, after years of silent and dusty rest in a wardrobe, we run after butterflies and pigeons, we searched for gnomes’ traces along a wood path and we hunted out with excitement their treasures, feathers and diamonds.
We foraged wild herbs to be serve as a side dish to the Easter roasted lamb, then we indulged ourselves in a thick slice of sportellina with a huge piece of dark chocolate Easter egg, with hazelnut, too.
In these days a fruit salad was served after every meal, spooned generously into colourful plastic bowls to gather the kids’ attention. They loved fruit anyway, but it was dressed in a festive way, sweeter and pink. The strawberry sugar cast its spell on every fruit spoonful, conquering kids and grown-ups.
- 700 g of caster sugar (200 g + 500 g)
- ¾ ripe strawberries, stalks and leaves removed
- Blend the strawberries with 200 g of sugar, then spoon it into a large bowl and stir in the remaining sugar until you obtain an even color.
- Spread the strawberry sugar in a tray and let it dry in the sun for an afternoon.
- In the evening, when it is completely dry, break the larger sugar crystals, gather it into a glass jar and store in refrigerator.
Where to use the strawberry sugar:
- it gives colour and fragrance to fruit salads, enhancing the strawberry flavour,
- it adds a pinkish hue to cocktails and it’s a perfect decoration to trim the rim of a glass of cold lemonade,
- unusual but glossy, use it to sprinkle on strawberry muffins,
- it sweetens ricotta cheese and raviggiolo, turning it into a fresh spring dessert.