I went to the public market this morning and to run some errands for Rosana (Luca’s mom who is still unable to leave the house –three months after the fact–due to her broken foot!) The market was a little skimpy because the carnival is in town until Easter and they’re taking up all the parking space. But I still managed to get my artisan veggies fresh from the countryside! Dandelion greens have just started to sprout and are really good right now. That’s right, you know those yellow flowers that we all consider weeds in the US? We eat them here. Just the leafy part, not the flower or stem. I zii (uncles) (my neighbors; everyone calls them aunt and uncle–really the uncle of Rosana) went dandelion green harvesting two days ago and finally got around to eating the greens today. They’re a little bit of a pain to clean, but worth it in the end. (Hellow, free salad!) Try to find the small baby ones as they’ll be the most tender. The bigger ones are also good to eat, but you’ll want to boil/steam or cook them because the more mature they are, the tougher they get. I was reading an old Martha Stewart the other day and she had an article about unique lettuces–one of which was dandelion greens. It kills me that Martha’s latest fad has been the Italian people’s way of survival for hundreds of years. At least she caught on!
At the macelleria (butcher shop) I go to sometimes there is a guy my age that works the counter. We’ve talked a couple of times about the weather, etc. Today he noticed that I got my haircut (it’s short like my mom’s now). He also found my pronunciation of “perfetto” and “quattro” absolutely hilarious. I’m talking pee-your-pants, laugh so hard you cry and your stomache hurts funny here folks.
I was offended because my accent isn’t even that pronounced anymore! (Or at least I didn’t think it was…) Butcher dude obviously thought otherwise because he kept repeating the words under his breath in an exaggerated American accent and laughing out loud!!! I didn’t find the situation all that amusing. And from a guy who thinks that Canada is a part of the United States and didn’t realize that New York is a state and not just a city, I didn’t feel that he had the right to be laughing in my face. Maybe he was just nervous because of his obvious crush on me and didn’t realize he was making a major faux pas.
I had just gotten into my car after the encounter with the butcher when I heard a tapping on the window. I looked over to see a seventy-something year old lady staring me in the face. She asked me for a ride to Pollenzo. She seemed a little confused and very agitated, practically in tears for not knowing what to do. Apparently she had recently gotten over a traumatic four month stay in the hospital and had taken the bus into town that morning for a check-up. But her kids and relatives were all too busy to pick her up and so she was stranded in Bra until the next bus came late that afternoon. (More than a five hour wait…)
And that’s how I ended up picking up an old lady hitch hiker this morning. It turns out that she lives in Rivalta, the little township closest to Verduno. I dropped her off at her front door and she made me promise that I would come to visit her in June so that she could give me ripe apricots to make marmalade with. She told me that she used to sell her fruit at the public market, along with eggs freshly produced by her hens. But she doesn’t go anymore because of all the new sanitation laws and because her children sold all of her chickens. (These kids sound like real winners…)
Can I just say that I never want to be that kind of daughter. Who doesn’t have time to take their mother to the hospital?? I also hope that I never am that mother: old and alone, confused and without even one of my children to look after me. I am definitely going to go back and visit her this summer, not just to get free ripe apricots, but because I sort of understand how she feels. When you’re living far away from home there are times when you feel alone, confused and a bit desperate. (Luckily I have all my online MoltenChocolate fans to keep me company!)