Sunday, July 31, 2011
It's beginning to be harvest time in Cervinara and the fruits of everyone's labors are seen all over town. While we don't have much of a garden, just some herbs and flowers, we are the recipients of the largesse of lots of friends and neighbors. Bertuccio is the first to come knocking on our door; cherries in May, squash and green beans in June, tomatoes, potatoes and garlic in July. Last week he came in with a huge basket of potatoes that he had just dug up and they were wonderful....odd shapes and sizes, but sweet and buttery when cooked up. Cousin Antonietta has been a source of many wonderful treats, from zucchini blossoms to San Marzano tomatoes, cucumbers and plums. Our neighbor Bianchina sent over a huge bag of eggplant along with a lovely head of lettuce. I feel bad for our fruttivendolo, because no one is stopping by his truck on his travels through town.
Adriana, our barista, is a great one for providing us with special treats. She gave us some hot pepper plants that will be giving some added spice to our dishes, she often has some taralli that she offers us for breakfast or some fresh homemade bread that we will eat with some tomatoes fresh off the vine. I don't know what we would do without Adriana, because she also gets us eggs right out of the chickens and many other helpful items.
As I mentioned before, we don't really have a garden and, even if we did there is no way we could match the great tasting fruits and vegetables of these old time farmers. But of course, we reciprocate in any way that we can, usually by providing folks with some of the great mozzarella that we bring back with us from Aversa. Aversa and the whole region around Naples is known for its buffalo mozzarella, but the buffalo milk doesn't make its way up to the mountains, so for the Cervinarese, mozzarella is a rare treat. So, every time we are down visiting family, we are sure to bring back an extra kilo of this milky goodness to divide among our friends and neighbors. It's always received with great pleasure. Lately I have also begun doing some baking and the biscotti and ciambelle that have been coming from my oven are also well received. I've pretty much perfected my walnut biscotti, different from the ones that I make in the States. These are very simple with no butter or oil at all. The only liquid comes from the eggs used to moisten the dough. They are so good dunked in our morning cappuccinos or a little after dinner glass of vin santo.
While the people of Cervinara tend to be very jealous of their land, protecting every square meter of what little plots they have, they are very willing to show off their agricultural skills by sharing whatever comes from those little bits of land that they hold so dear.