radiantshadow (radiantshadow) wrote,

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Under The Tuscan Sun

Market day falls on thursdays in Camucia, the lively town at the bottom of Cortona's hill, and I'm there early before the heat sets in. Tourists pass right through Camucia; it's just the modern spillover from the venerable and dominant hill town above it. But modern is relative. Among the frutta e verdura shops, the hardware and seed stores, you happen on a couple of Etruscan tombs. Near the butcher's shop are remnants of a villa, an immense curly iron gate and swag of garden wall. Camucia, bombed in World War II, has its share of chestnut trees, photographable doors, and shuttered houses.

On market day, a couple of streets are blocked to traffic. The vendors arrive early, unfolding what seems like whole stores or supermarket aiseles from specially made trucks and wagons. One wagon sells loval pecorino, the sheep's milk cheese that can be soft and almost creamy, or aged and strong as a barnyard, along with several wheels of parmigiano. The aged cheese is crumbly and rich, wonderful to nibble as I walk around the market.


At home I plan a menu ahead, though I frequently improvise as I shop. Here, I only begin to think when I see what's ripe this week. My impulse is to overload; I forget there are not ten hungry people at home. At first I was miffed when tomoatoes or peas had spoiled wen I got around to cook them a few days later. Finally I caught on that what you but today is ready -- picked or dug this morning at its peak. This also explained another puzzle; I never understood why Itaian refrigerators are so minute until I realized that they don't store food the way we do. The Sub-Zero giant I have at home begins to seem almost institutional compared to the toy fridge I now have here.

-- "Under The Tuscan Sun", Frances Mayes

This is how i want to live ... This is sort of the way my grandpa used to live, he had acres and acres of fruits and vegetables planted. I have never asked him how he went about deciding what to plant, but I think it was whatever struck his fancy at the moment. Not only that, but both he and my grandma would know where to find all of these backroad fruit / vegetable stands. And we would go visit him and there were always fresh fruits and vegetables. The one fond memory that I have of going shopping with my mom( a journey that I usually despised above all else) is when we would go to a local farmers market. And all the farmers would be selling there produce from the backs of pickup trucks and fold away tables.

I dont think that I ever fully appreciated that, though it is obvious now where I acquired my passion for good fresh food. Sometimes it seems that my grandpa would walk in the door with some odd vegetable that he managed to grow, and grandma would know exactly what to do with it.



I want to be like them someday. My mom would just look at a truck and start in with her bargaining for some odd bunch of fruits and veggies. I remember when she would take me and my sister to piano lessons after school, and we would stop by this strawberry stand that was right next to this strawberry field(imagine that). And then we'd munch on them while waiting for our lessons. Then homewards for dinner and strawberry shortcake.

absolutely beautiful.

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