November: Chestnuts, New Wine, New Olive Oil
We were on our way to Peppa’s for castagne e vino novello (roasted chestnuts with the new wine) when Pino’s phone rang: our turn coming up, pressing of our olives within the hour.
We’d picked our olives last week-end (well, most of them…) and Pino had called for an appointment.
The olive mills working around the clock these days so not much choice of a pressing time – and no one will risk the mixing of one’s olives with that of a nearby farm.
Dio ci salvi (“The Lord save us”).
Pino headed off to the olive mill, passing me the prosciutto we’d bought for the dinner at Peppa’s. Not needed: Baldino (old farm friend of Peppa’s family) had brought his homemade capocollo, a perfect partner for Peppa’s torta bread – with raisins this time.
I’d never had torta with that addition but Peppa told me that her mamma Faustina had often made it that way. I’d asked what would be the side dish. “Niente”.
I imagine that the farm women would add a handful of raisins to turn the torta – the only food for that meal – into a treat for hungry children.
The torta and capocollo would have been a perfect dinner. But there’s always “more” at Peppa’s: a savory minestrone soup came first, then bruschetta with olio novello. Peppa toasted the bread on the woodstove top and then each of us drizzled the just-milled olive oil – a gift from Baldino and green as it should be! – over the slices. Baldino had brought chestnuts, too, for we were celebrating the Feast of San Martino (November 11): San Martino, San Martino, castagne e vino St. Martin, (“St. Martin, chestnuts and wine'”).
And not just any wine for this feast: the new wine (vino novello), which farmers traditionally try for the first time for San Martino. Peppa’s wine is a good one this year – and she inaugurated it with a spray on the roasted chestnuts, just off the wood stove – and popping out of their husks – rolling the wine-soaked chestnuts in a dishtowel. Peppa pressed down hard as she rolled to loosen the chestnuts from the husks. Her son, Giancarlo, was nearby to give advice on the best chestnut-crushing method, Baldino, too, offering his advice.
His huge worn farm hands proved good tools for the cracking of his portion of roasted chestnuts. Peppa likes her hulled roasted chestnuts in a glass, wine poured over them.
“Piu’ buone cosi” (“best like this”).
Peppa’s always right.
Read more about the San Martino celebrations in rural culture
Read about our olive harvest, 2014
Read about Peppa’s wine-making
Read about Peppa’s wine lore
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 how Peppa can take off the evil eye!
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