Thursday, May 5, 2011

Our 17th Spring Season in Italy - May 5, 2011

Day ½

We arrived in Italy this morning and were whisked in a jet-lagged fog to Linda’s parents’ home in Morolo, in the hills about an hour south of Rome. As soon as we closed the taxi door her mother Josephine served us a plate of pasta with tiny, skinny wild asparagus and pancetta. Simple, bursting with flavor and just what we needed after 8 hours of plane food. A little red wine from her father Gene’s personal cellar relaxed us – or

more accurately turned us to jelly.

Jo then brought to the table a bright green frittata made with shoots of a spring vine the locals call tabbii. It is just the tendrils of an otherwise innocuous vine that is starting to tangle itself around all the shrubs. They are only tender enough to eat during these 10 days so if you miss them, that’s it.

Competition is fierce to claim your territory. “My cousin Marisa beat me to all the ones out here by the road,” said Jo, “but I have another spot I go to that no one knows about.” No one packages them to sell in a grocery store, you have to pick your own.

Jo harvested a pile of them this morning before we got there. Her right thumb and thumbnail turned black from pinching and twisting the vine tips. She sautéed them in garlic and olive oil and tossed them into an egg mixture for lunch. Tonight we’ll have them as a contorno (side dish) with rabbit simmered with white wine, rosemary and a smidgen of anchovy.

Today we landed here in full-blown spring. The fields are plentiful with delicacies popping up everywhere. Neighbors stopped by to drop off a newspaper full of pignoli mushrooms they picked from the forest and another bundle of reed-thin wild asparagus stalks. After a nap we are going out to see what else we might harvest. The acacia trees are just bursting with silky white blossoms, their heady perfume hangs in the air. Sambuco blooms trumpet towards the sky. Wild mint is like clover in the lawn. Tune in tomorrow to find out what Linda did with the harvest of local delicacies we discover right outside our door.

For now, buona notte!

Michael and Linda


Il Chiostro said...

My Dad is always talking about how everyone in the area would pick the Tabbii and use it as any spring vegetable, but now only a handful of people know about them...good thing I can't imagine what the competition would have been like back then.

Anonymous said...

Linda & Michael, I enjoyed the story very much. Very descriptive. I wish I was there. If only kudzu were edible! Or is it?? An entire industry awaits in Atlanta! Enjoy your stay!!