Monday, November 15, 2010

Grab My Hands and Tiramisu!

Eight months have disappeared since school began, and I’m not entirely sure where they’re hidden. We just finished our sixth (sixth!) and final school trip, closing up our travelling schedule with a journey to Tuscany. We drank a lot of wine, ate a lot of food, then drank more wine and finished up with some vino.

My favourite stop on our tour wasn't a vineyard, however. It was Spannocchia, a farm and agriturismo that runs an amazing educational program and hosts up to 24 interns each year. One of the current interns is a UNISG student named Chris, and part of his work includes chasing after Cinta Senese pigs, a rare black breed unique to the area. Unlike the pigs bred for Prosciutto di Parma, these swine roam freely in the forests around Spannocchia and use their snouts to forage food from the ground. I bet these pigs eat more truffles each year than the average person eats in a lifetime, and I'd envy them if it wasn't for the fact that they eventually become salumi.

After the trip I stayed in Tuscany a few more days to visit Elisa and Gabrielle, my old hosts from Podere Le Fornace where I wwoofed last year. They’ve sinced moved off the farm but welcomed me into their new home, a hill-top farmhouse with vineyard views out of each window. On Saturday afternoon we picked up Gabrielle from his grandparent’s land, where he is helping with the olive harvest. Though their grandson now runs the operation, at 84 and 80 Nonno and Nonna still work long days to relieve the hundreds of trees of their ripe fruit. We drove to the frantoio (mill) to pick up the first batch: 52 litres of bright green olio nuovo that we struggled to lift into the trunk. In the evening, Elisa toasted slices of bread for us to rub with garlic, sprinkle with salt, and eat drenched in the spicy new oil.

While playing outside with their 4 ½ year old daughter Priscilla, I had another of my Italian Linguistic Moments. As she jumped up and down on the yard's mattress-turned-trampoline, I held her hands and lifted her up on every third jump. I stopped when my arms became tired, causing her to exclaim “Tiramisu! Tiramisu!” and me to wonder why she was suddenly shouting a dessert at me. I was tempted to shout “chocolate cake!” back at her, but then realized what she was saying; tiramisu literally means “lift me up,” a fact I’ve heard many times before but have never applied to my life beyond the dessert buffet. After figuring this out I summoned what strength was left in my arms (the only exercise I've had lately is raising wine glasses to my mouth), and lifted her up as high as I could. She laughed and laughed and I was a hero.

The moral of this story: an obsessive love of all things sweet can be useful in the real world.

1 comment:

  1. You have a knack for finding great light to shoot in girl! Love the ones of the girl walking down the street, dark clouds over the vineyard and the apple galette (or are those potatoes?! Hard to tell from here).