Near Assisi, a Christmastime Rural Feast with a Torrone Ending
Even the torrone – Christmas nougat – closing our mid-December Christmastime feast with a sweet note, was homemade. A Nello specialty.
At Mariella’s and Nello’s table, I think only the sugar, salt, coffee – and parmigiano – aren’t of produzione propria (“of one’s own production,” i.e., homemade). Every meal there is a feast. Always.
We’ve known Mariella and Nello since 1975 when Pino worked the grape harvest on the farmland near Assisi that Nello managed. He and Mariella and their two small children lived there until 1982.
Mariella and Nello live in a modern house now in Bastia (near Assisi) and their children, Barbara and Andrea, have children of their own. But our friendship has spanned the years.
And what ingredients she couples to that passion: they may be retired but not from the land for they still cultivate a vineyard, make their own wine, harvest their olives, raise chickens turkeys, ducks and guinea fowl – and what a garden they have.
They slaughter a couple pigs each winter; after all, prosciutto, salami, sausages, pancetta and capocollo are needed for the families of Andrea and Barbara, too.
The kitchen table is a long one. Sunday lunch always includes Andrea’s family (they live upstairs) and might even include Barbara’s family, too. We’d dropped in on a Sunday morning about 11 20 to bring our Christmas greetings, deliberately NOT wishing to arrive at the 1-pm-ish Italian lunchtime.
Well, that didn’t work. Mariella insisted we stay for their 12: 15 lunch with son Andrea, his wife, Patrizia and their sons, Marco and Matteo.
….and so we chatted with her as she finished up the last details: roasted pork shank (from their pig, naturalmente) to carve….
The roasted potatoes with dill and rosemary and the baked fennel were in the oven. Time to eat.
…and then came the secondi..
No, not of produzione propria: il panettone was the only food at that lunch not homemade.
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