At 6:30 in the morning, the fog is still thick enough that you have to use your wind shield wipers to avoid the rush hour of slow moving tractors and grandmas who start their day early. I was on my way to the market in Umbertide to buy fresh langoustine for lunch and coudn’t resist the dark leafy greens still wet from the garden and strawberries to stuff in between layers of paper thin crepes with custard and whipped cream. Our lentils were from Norcia and we simmered in the oven, because there was no room on the stove, with garlic and thyme and a drizzle of olive oil until they were soft, and then as soon as I drained them, I got more olive oil in there with a squeeze of lemon, some salt, and topped the whole thing with the sheeps’ milk ricotta. The big shrimp, poor things got tossed in a pot of boiling water with more garlic and parsely and olive oil for three minutes, and came out as tender and sweet as fresh shoots of clover. We broke the shells with our hands, and dipped them in more oil and salt and went off to Montevarchi, ready to take on Prada, the olive groves and the infamous Silvio Bonci, who taught us how to make Foccaccia. By then the sight of the man’s hands in the hill of flour and water and yeast, with so much love for what he was doing, was enough to make me cry. It is hard to translate when you get emotional, but I have a very understanding (if every so often out of control) group. Both the gentleman who led us through 3000 olive trees, and the infamous Bonci were much adored by the ladies, and by dinner there was a downright love affair happening across the table with at least one of the ladies and yet another pastry chef. As we left, he put his chair in the middle of the street to prevent his amore from leaving him, and after a small but significant traffic jam, got his kiss. Spring has sprung in Italy.
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I am so enjoying reading your blog. Thank you for transporting me from my office to your kitchen. Your writing is wonderful – descriptive, elegant and full of passion and humour. I look foward to your book – any details on the pub date?