Anne's Blog

  • In vino veritas

“In vino veritas?” …Maybe

Date: February 20, 2011 - categories: , , , , - Leave your thoughts

Peppa with wine bottle

Peppa offers her wine and shares wine lore

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. Her nonna would swish a gulp of wine in her own mouth to warm it, then try to open the beak of the chick, spitting in the wine… per dare forza, explains Peppa.

Another farm friend, Giuseppa, told me that her nonna rubbed many a weak baby chick’s wobbly, stick-like legs with a piece of warm wool soaked in wine to give strength. For these farm people – all mezzadri (or tenant farmers) – every animal was essential: each was food on the table for a large extended family.

Farm neighbor Quinto told us that after scything endless fields of wheat by hand, rubbing the legs with wine relieved sore muscles.

Old Alessandro told me that childhood headaches were soothed by the application of a vinegar soaked rag on the forehead. Cuts, insect bites, and rashes were all swabbed with vinegar, a natural disinfectant and soothing healer.

  • Alessandro in his wine cellar

    Alessandro in his wine cellar (vinegar stored here, too!)

  • Quinto


Wine and vinegar were used for cleaning. On cold winter nights, farm families gathered around the huge fireplace where a cauldron of boiling water bubbled over the coals. The hot water was never enough for the washing of everyone. Infants in the family were washed with rags soaked in wine, which had been warmed in the mouth of the grandmother. Bedsheets were washed in cold water and vinegar. Windows were rubbed with vinegar til they shone and floors were mopped with cold water and vinegar. Marble-topped farmhouse tables were scrubbed with water and vinegar (and I do the same on our marble-slabbed countertops). Our rural friends – like Peppe, Mandina and elderly Nonna – were most hygienic in spite of their poverty.
caption. Our dear rural friends, 1975.

Our dear rural friends, 1975
  • bread-che-buono
  • working-earth

Wine and vinegar star in traditional Italian rural cooking. Vinegar in any dish stops the food from spoiling and is therefore an essential ingredient.
in the cucina povera (after all, not until the late 1970s did small refrigerators appear in farmhouse storerooms). Countless dishes of southern Italy (where summers are hottest and homes once lacked refrigerators) feature vinegar, like la peperonata.

Here is a recipe for peperonata, one of my favorite Siclian vegetable dishes (if any is leftover, do not refrigerate – simply enjoy the next day at room temperature):

Wash 5 or 6 bell peppers.
Slice into strips about 2 inches wide.
Cover stainless steel frying pan with olive oil.
Add 2 whole garlic cloves and when garlic is golden, turn peppers into
sizzling oil, browning the pepper strips.
When peppers are blistered, pour in about 1 c. or more of wine vinegar.
Add about 1 1/2 tsp rock salt. Cook til wine vinegar is almost all evaporated.
In summer, add about 2 c. diced very ripe tomatoes (in other seasons, add 1 large can tomatoes).
Simmmer til liquid of tomatoes evaporates.

Note: all quantities are approximate as I learned this by watching my Sicilian mother-in-law make this dish. After all, “qb” (or quanto basta, i.e., “as much as you need”) is the most common Italian cookbook annotation!

Buon appetito!

La peperonata

La peperonata

Note: This recipe is featured in some of my U.S. tour cooking classes.

Click here for more on my U.S. cooking lessons/lectures tour.
Click here for more on rural friends
Click here for more recipes.
Read about how Peppa can take off the evil eye!
Read about Peppa’s wine-making
Click for more on Peppa’s wine and a sacred rural tradition
Read about Peppa’s bread salad
Read about Peppa’s celebration of her new olive oil
Read about Peppa celebrating chestnuts, new wine and new olive oil
Read about learning to make a traditional bread with Peppa
Read about hunting chicory with Peppa
Click here to read about Peppa and her legumes
Click here to read about Peppa’s Easter cheese breads
Read about Peppa and the rural rite of veglia
Read about the joy of feasting with Peppa
Read about “delectable Deruta” and feasting with Giuseppa

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Privacy Policy

Privacy Italian Legislative Decree n° 196/2003 Under Article 13 of the Italian Legislative Decree no. 196/2003, regulations with regard to the Protection of Personal Data, this is an informative report to all interested parties on the modality of the treatment of personal data, arising from interaction with our website
THE PRINCIPAL FOR DATA TREATMENT During site consultation, personal data referring to identified or identifiable persons can be processed. The principal for data treatment is Anne Robichaud Pian della Pieve Assisi 06081 (PG) Italy. The data will be mainly processed at the mentioned head office by the people responsible for the website or by other people appointed for occasional maintenance operations, provided that their actions conform to of the guarantees enshrined in the Legislative Decree 196/2003.
Web navigation The information systems and software procedures required for the functioning of this website, acquire some personal data during their normal service, the transmission of which is implicit in the use of web communication protocols. This information is not collected with the purpose of identifying interested parties, but due to its very nature, the information could lead to user identification through processes and relations with data held by third parties. In this data category there are IP addresses or domain names belonging to computers used by users who connect to the site, addresses with URI (Uniform Resource Identifier) notification of the requested resources, time of the request, used method in submitting the request to the server, dimension of the file obtained in replying, the numeric code mentioning the reply status given by the server (successful reply, error, etc?) and other parameters referred to the operation system and to the user’s information environment. This data is used with the sole purpose of obtaining anonymous statistical information on the use of the site and to check the correct functioning; immediately after processing, the data is erased.
Data voluntarily supplied by the user The voluntary optional and explicit e-mail transmission to the addresses mentioned in this site implies the subsequent acquisition of the sender’s address, necessary to reply to the queries, as well as the other eventual personal data registered in the message.
OPTIONAL PERSONAL DATA SUPPLY Except for the above mentioned navigation data, the user may be asked to supply his own personal data through queries or messages to the email addresses shown in the contact pages. Failure to provide such data may be the cause of the inability to obtain the requested information from the company.
TREATMENT MODALITY The personal data is treated in compliance with the Legislative Decree no. 196/2003 and held only for the time necessary to achieve the aim for which it has been collected. Specific safety measures are taken to prevent any data loss, illicit or incorrect use and unauthorized access.
RIGHTS OF THIRD PARTIES The data subjects are at any time entitled to obtain confirmation as to whether or not data relating to him are held, to know the contents and the origin, to check the correctness, to ask for integration, updating or change (art. 7 Decree Law 196:June 2003). In accordance with the same article, they are entitled to obtain the erasure, conversion into anonymous form or freezing of all data used in breach of the law, to object, on legitimate grounds, to the processing of data relating to him. All requests have to be transmitted to the e-mail address

Agenzia Viaggi Stoppini in Assisi handles all technical support for my guided visits (bus transportation, organization of meals, etc)