Things have really calmed down since last week, which really was pretty easy to accomplish. We had a trip to the Marketino on Friday morning and we used that time to decompress and then lay around in the sun back at the hotel. We also restocked the larder with wine and fruit and yogurt. It is hard to believe that I have had enough of chocolate croissants in the morning. Actually, they are cornettos, which is the Italian version, and they come from a box, so they pretty much stink. For my family in Florida who will appreciate this, I just opened my third bottle of Averna. That is pretty much a bottle every 2 weeks. I expect to slow down a bit, but the first week it was like a sleeping pill for me. For my friends who have no idea what that is…it is not hard liquor, but stronger than wine, it is an after dinner drink, and I love it and can only get it in Florida.
Saw some interesting things in the market this week. See those little snails – when my mom would take my brother and I to the fish store in Brooklyn, we would each get one snail. Then we would bring them home, put them in a glass of water and when they came out of hiding, we would have snail races up our arms. Fun memories. Also, check out this ice cream freezer. It is in the café where we stopped for a coffee. There is the vodka, right next to the ice cream cones, just in case you need a cold one.
This little pile of cheese is sitting in the corner of the deli department of a little corner grocery store where we bought some yogurt. There were 2 more on the counter that they were cutting. Those babies are 60 pound wheels of Parmiggiano Reggiano, thousands of dollars worth. Amazing!!
On Saturday, Jason, Kristine and I went with Luigi, the son of one of the hotel workers, on a jaunt up the hillside to Montauro. It was the celebration of their patron Saint that day and we went to see the ceremony. Apparently this was the day that he was canonized, but they also celebrate in July on his birthday. Story is that the dried blood in the reliquary liquefies. I thought that would be something to see, then heard that it happens in another town also, who happens to have some blood from their saint. The whole town was there, plus a busload of pilgrims from Algeria. There was a band playing outside and a special song all about how the saint had saved their town in 1783 when an earthquake took out everything from Reggio Calabria north, but not their church. St. Pantaleona’s spirit showed up over the church and everyone went there and they were saved. The church had been originally consecrated to ST Sebastian, but he got trumped after that.
Yesterday and today we were doing conservation techniques. I already have a pretty good background in jams, jellies, salted fish and marinated vegetables living in Alaska, but we did some pretty weird little things today. We started by cleaning a ton of fresh anchovies. No knives, you just pinch off their heads and work your thumb down the belly to open it up and then pull out the guts and the spine, leaving the tail. We marinated some and they are under oil for a few days. I’ll let you know. After that, chef showed up with a huge case of fresh sardines. We had to do the same thing with them, only they had to be scaled first. It took forever. We also cleaned cauliflower and carrots for making gardiniera and BIG bundles of broccoli rabe, wild chicory and other unidentified greens. Then everything had to be blanched. We finished the day with salmon, salted and smoked. I could have taught the lesson on that one. I hear tomorrow we will be doing something with zucchini – now that is something I can use.