ROOM 1 – real people.real food.real life.

by admin on March 12, 2009

I wanted to start with the room off the living room…where the preparation of prosciutto had begun….but I think we should start at the beginning…..which would be the confusion of the train station….a bit stale so  maybe we will just begin on the train where I sit across from two women….who happened to be from San Jose, CA….and our sharing of experiences…that all led to the exchange of the best food we had found….but we have talked enough about food…..so maybe the debarking from the train and the greeting from someone I had never met….who invited me to visit her home…and share in her experiences….as an American in Italy….but probably it’s best if we get right to it….

As we wound around the hillside with olive oil trees in every direction, my new friend began to tell me the story of her neighbors.  They were an older couple who had been married and lived in this home together for 53 years….the home had been in the family for 63 years….they are true farmers…living off the land.  They have olive trees for oil, grapes for wine, vin santo, grappa….cows for milk and probably cheese…chickens, roosters and turkeys….pigs..always pigs…..they are hunters…of rabbit…pigeon..boar to name a few…they visit the market in the neighboring town but for the most part….they are self sustained….not because they are joining the slow food movement….but because they have lived the slow food movement…and it’s what they know…and it’s who they are.  They are real people……they eat real food….and they live real life.

The road to their house is gravel…and winds gracefully through the hillside….  The sun is shining and you can see olive trees for miles…homes scattered throughout the countryside….animals grazing….and dogs…tormented by the cats…..soaking in the sun.  We wind around a few different homes before we pull into the cobblestone driveway of her neighbor’s house.  Outside is an elderly gentlemen sweeping the cobblestone…slowly and methodically…looking up only to see who had scattered dust onto his cobblestones.  As I get out of the car I am greeted by a very happy black lab of sorts….smiling and wagging his tail….I look over across the gravel road and see an old stone building…a small barn…with chickens and roosters headed both ways through the open door as if it was the local watering hole….I’m drawn to barns…have been ever since childhood…..I loved to hang out with my pony in her stall…..sometimes laying next to her when she slept….or hanging out in the bales of hay…chewing on alfalfa….and playing with the kittens….why is it that barns are always full of kittens?

As we were waiting on some other neighbors to show, I meandered over to the barn.  I wish I had the literary skills to describe this to you…..I have seen it many times back home…..it’s what everyone tries to recreate…the old tuscan barn….but this was different…it was real.  It had a little window above the door…and I noticed that it was cracked open about a half of foot….and it was rigged with string that came down and tied to the side of the stone barn….so you could adjust it from where you stood….I stared for while…thinking about how practical this was…and how we make things so complicated….with technology and money….and so many things can be so simple.

A sudden jolt from the dog awakens me from my thoughts.  I place his paws back on the ground and walk slowly into the barn….  Lowering my head as I pass through the door….the chickens and roosters gather around my legs…as if they were insisting on showing me their home…out of respect, I let them in first..in retrospect I do not even remember the purpose of the first room that I entered…for I was drawn immediately to the second….it was filled with hay…bales and bales…less in the front so I could take a seat…and breath in the smell of farm….and as I was breathing in I was soaking in the natural beauty of the hay against the stone walls….not a facade…but real stone….built by hand…stone by stone…none perfect…all perfect.  As I was envisioning curling up on the next level of hay with a good book I was awakened by the summoned by the sounds of Buongiornos….as I knew my time was up, I quickly glanced around…trying to memorize every stone and every bale of hay…took a deep breath and registered it with my senses and begged for retention….and then followed my feathered friends out the door.

Next blog…..the view of the countryside and the story of the countess.

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