Archive | October, 2010

Italy: Where even the peasants eat well..

31 Oct

Extract from a book,La Cucina Tradizionale Veneta by Dino Coltro, who grew up near Venice :

“For breakfast we had polenta, then held on from noon until one or even two in the afternoon and had more polenta, and polenta again in the evening, or perhaps bigoloto (a kind of pasta), sometimes with some greens braised in vinegar or sautéed in a drop of oil. This except Thursday, when my mother would go down to Brenna to buy rice from the miller and make soup with a few beans or some greens, and then we’d feel as if we were putting on weight with every spoonful. But this only happened on Thursdays, and there was no bread, because we only had it once or twice during the harvest, when we’d go out into the fields, women and children combing the furrows like mice to gather stray grains of wheat, grind them, and make loaves to satisfy a hunger as old as time.

“For the rest of the year we’d mention the bread of Our Father in the Sunday prayers we’d say with those Christians who did enjoy their daily bread, and on other days make the sign of the cross on our breasts through our shirts and make do…”

This quote is excellent because it shows just how flawed this idea that so many people have brought into is. Namely the idea that italian cooking is peasant cooking. Italian cooking has its basis in the cities where people were rich enough to eat a varied diet.


The search for ham

30 Oct

My last day in Slovenia was spent here.
( I realise that I have posted that before, but just look at it.)

I took advantage of the free bikes to go on (what I thought was) a small jaunt for Karst Prust, an air dried ham that is similar to Parma, except less salty. I glanced at the map to find a ham producer, and found one that looked a reasonable cycle.

Half way through my journey however, it became obvious to me that I had blithely ignored the contours, and that just because the road was straight on the map, this did not mean it was flat. This was made most evident during my struggle up a 700m hill on a bike that was barely suitable for flat cities, let alone this hill. Needless to say, I stopped a lot.

Once I arrived, some 2 and half hours later, I found the romantically named “ham drying facility” shut. I sat down, defeated. About 5 minutes later a women wandered out and asked me if I was here for ham. I responded enthusiastically, and a wildly haired old man tottered out of the barn. When he found out where I had come from, I received a heartfelt “Bravo”. But I wasn’t here for applause, I was here for the meat.

I tasted a small amount and detected a mild juniper flavour. Sadly it wasn’t reminiscent of gin.It was tasty, like Gin, although less likely to make you fall off your bike than gin. I purchased about a kg of ham, which was not cheap, but so expensive that it hurt to hand over the money. I justified it by telling myself that this was unlikely to be a frequent purchase, given the location.

The highlight of my trip was a visit to the various rooms where the ham was cured as well as the wine cellar.

The Sausage Wall

A Big Bit of Ham

Pig Shaped Wine Jar

The ideal gift for somebody who likes Wine and trotters. We all know somebody like that, surely?

The best thing is that there is a secret door in the cellar.

Holy Wine Cave Batman!

All in all, this was an excellent end to my time in Slovenia. It was interesting to see that there was a active promotion of the various tourist farms and producers in the area, with leaflets galore. This was something that the tourist board were keen to tell you about, and hopefully to preserve.

House numbers in Slovenia or “A life without street names”

29 Oct

In many parts of Slovenia, the villages are so small that there arent street names, just numbers. What I mean is best understood by imagining that your address was 234, Manchester or 56550000, London. Thats what it is like.

Look at this veg!

28 Oct

Produce in Bologna

Those are some sexy artichokes.


28 Oct

It is proving frustratingly difficult to get the time to sit and write posts. I have therefore decided that I will be doing short posts first, rather than chronologically posting. This is why stuff from Slovenia will occur mid way things from Italy, and my cities will be mixed up. I cannot justify spending so much on internet when there is so much food to be tasted!

Quick Update

24 Oct

Terre Madre is amazing and overwhelmingly large. Will update more when I am not so busy.


21 Oct

Tea In Slovenia

The Slovenes are big into tea, with a multitude of options on most cafe menus. Note the individual tea strainer.