Revered Rural Rite: La Veglia

April 4, 2011

For Roosevelt, a "fireside chat" denoted intimate dialogue with the people. The fireside chat - called "veglia" ("vigil") - was always an intimate moment of life in central Italy's rural culture. I miss those years of the "andare alla veglia" ("going to keep the vigil") at our neighbors' farmhouses on winter evenings, where so much rural lore and rural wisdom was passionately shared by our farm friends around the fireplace. read more...

“In vino veritas?” …Maybe

February 20, 2011

Wine and its sharp-tongued sister, vinegar, are certainly sacred in rural culture, if not harbingers of truth. Our wise farm friend, Peppa, told me that when her family farmed, weak baby chicks were strengthened by wine... read more...

La Polentata: Cornmeal Communion

January 25, 2011

Breaking of bread together denotes communion, sharing, in Judaic and Christian traditions. In Italian tradition, the most communal food is certainly polenta, when spread out on a wooden board (lo spianatoio, literally "the spreader") down the center of a long table, diners on both sides scooping up the polenta with big spoons. A meal of just polenta, la polentata - best savored with a robust red wine... read more...

Our Farm Friends: Givers of the Greatest Gifts

December 15, 2010

After living the rural life with them for over thirty-five years, I am still learning from our farm neighbors. Over the years, each has given us treasured gifts. The gifts keep coming. Here are some of the people who taught us about the land. Some are still alive. Others are gone. Each has given us the greatest of all gifts: of themselves, fully. read more...

Here comes La Madonna!

December 7, 2010

No, Madonna is not arriving in Assisi but La Madonna is - or so the children believe.As darkness creeps in on December 7th vigil of the Feast of the Immacualte Conception on the 8th... read more...

MOSTRA/MERCATO or “Show-and-Sell”

November 30, 2010

Not "show and tell" but "show and sell" is the theme of the Italian mostra mercato. These markets - generally open-air - can feature just a handful of vendors or hundreds and anything on display can be bought - and in some cases, tasted. For us, no better way to warm up a chilly November night than at the Mostra Mercato del Tartufo near Valtopina... read more...

Truffles Reign Triumphant

November 24, 2010

The truffle has always been the richest and most refined element of Mediterranean cuisine. Certainly not desired for its beauty - it resembles a measily rotten potato - the truffle grows underground, like the potato, far from light and air, taking its nourishment, like other mushrooms, from the forest undergrowth. read more...

Umbria’s Coveted Gold

November 23, 2010

Umbria, "Italy's green heart", is green all year thanks to the non-deciduous live oaks blanketing the mountains and the silver-green olive trees which cover our hills. Umbria boasts about 56,000 acres of olive trees in the region and 27,000 producers of top extra-virgin olive oils. This is a golden year for our liquid "gold"... read more...

Corn Harvest, Past

November 5, 2010

Like bent over old men, dried cornstalks stand forlornly in fields joining our farm land. The corn has been picked and who knows if it has been pulverized for chicken feed or for the corn mash which will fatten the pigs, turning their rear thighs into tasty prosciutti? Then again, the corn might have been ground for corn flour for polenta or brustengolo, one of the few sweets which highlight Umbrian rural cuisine. read more...

‘Open House’ at Umbria’s Olive Oil Mills

November 5, 2010

Umbria, called "Italy's green heart", is green all year thanks to the non-deciduous live oaks blanketing the mountains of our region and the silver-green of the olive trees which cover our hills. The superb olive oils of Umbria (and particulary those of the Assisi/Spello area) - considered the best in the world by Alain Ducasse, famed French chef - are celebrated in the Frantoi Aperti (best translated "Open House at the Olive Oil Mills") festival from the end of October to early December... read more...