Thursday, July 15, 2010

Artichokes and more artichokes

BELLA TUSCANY (Pg. 13- 22)

Both Frances and her husband manage to buy 25 artichokes each, separately, in the same day. That is 50 artichokes people!! I know I know...they were the "small" artichokes. I could still pack away some butter with 50 small artichokes. That is my favorite way to eat artichokes, the large ones at least. Melt some butter and dip the leaves in and heart at the end. This veggie never gets old for me.

I grew up being a VERY picky eater. We'll get to that another day. Let's just say I had a childhood love affair with McDonalds Chicken Nuggets. (and children...this was before the all white meat nuggets). Who knew what type of chicken byproducts I was eating. Gross. Moving on.

It seems the "small" artichokes are popular right now. Why? I think it's because the entire thing is edible. You don't have to spoon out that hairy part in the middle.

Frances says all the restaurants in Camucia have fried artichokes on the menu. That just sounds delish. Fried anything sound amazing right now.

The market also sells "rape." (both syllables pronounced) This is a type of flower. I don't think I've had this. Maybe I have...not sure. Frances says this is like the untamed cousin of broccoli. On the list of things to try.

The italians even put nettles into their risotto or pasta. Nettles...aren't those weeds? Even if this is prompting my gag reflex...i'm sure the Italians manage it well. A picture of a nettle is below. I really had no idea what they resembled until this moment.

Here is my favorite part of the evening -->
In the late spring afternoons in Tuscany, women walk with bags and sticks to gather wild greens for their dinner salads. These women take a bunch of wild greens from Frances' property. She calls it, "insalata mista for the taking."
HA!! Can you imagine? In America, the equivalent would be people stealing baked fruit pies that are cooling in an open window. (of course that was the 1950s and no longer really happens) (or does it?)

The chapter ends with one of the garden walls falling down and a stranger telling Frances that the house is haunted. The stranger says a small child fell in the well and drowned. The stranger says, "all old houses are haunted." That seems to be true.

Here's to the summer and baby artichokes.
A picture of the food market in Cortona, Italy.

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