On the first Sunday in September is the Palio at Pescia. A Palio is basically a community fair with some sort of competition for prizes, there is a Palio of sorts in many Tuscan towns. The most famous of these is held twice yearly in Seina where there is a horse race around the fanous Piazza del Campo. Here in Pescia the games are an archery competition between the four quarters of the City of Pescia.
The key feature of a palio is a magnificent medieval procession in costume through the town and streets, here are the flag bearers for the rione of Santa Maria. I think you will agree they are a very colourful and evocative sight for locals and tourists alike.
The pattern of weather here at this time year is interesting as the grapes and chestnuts ripen to full glory. There are a few days of rainy weather and perhaps thunder then perhaps a week of glorious sunshine then a few days rain. After each rainfall the air gradually begins to cool, especially here in the hills. The rain then leaves fluffy, steamy clouds that stick like candy floss to the hills among the streaks of bright sunshine that illuminate the trees.
You always feel here that you are a part of the weather, part of the natural organic world, and not just a mere observer of the climate. It is a glory!!!
The regular Editor of the blog is away on sabbatical! So here goes.
We have been growing many vegetables on our terrace, tomatoes, beans, onions and most interestingly aubergines, sometimes known as egg plant or in Italian ‘melanzana’. They really are the most exotic plants introduced to Europe in the early middle Ages (1500). First used as decoration with their deep purple leaves and white and yellow egg like fruit. At first they were not used for cooking but now are very common in the supermarket, but better still, have a go at growing them as they are much more flavoured and have a very beautiful blue flower from which the fruit emerges.
Try this recipe:
X 4 bulbs of garlic
X 1 large onion
1 tsp of oregano
X2 tbsp of tomato puree
X2 tins of chopped tomatoes or chopped fresh tomatoes (although I prefer the tinned).
1 tin of water
Salt and black pepper
X2 vegetable stock cubes
A small amount of flour.
Grated parmesan cheese
Slice the aubergines to a ¼ of an inch thinly and sprinkled with salt and left for 1 hour to remove some of the water. Peal and crush the garlic, chop the onion finely and fry off with vegetable oil and the oregano. When cooked at the tomato puree, cook for a few moments and then add the tins of tomatoes, salt and pepper and stock cubes and water. Bring to the boil and simmer until the top of the sauce begins to have a little oil floating on it, then it is ready. Coat the aubergine in the flour and fry on both sides in hot oil until brown.
Place on kitchen paper.
Use the sauce and the aubergines to make three or four layers in an oven proof dish and sprinkle with the cheese. You could also sprinkle the top with a little oregano.
Cook in a medium hot oven for 30 – 40 minutes and serve with crusty bread.
I hope you enjoy growing & eating your own food and let us know how you get on. The regular Editor will return next week!
Darren (Assitant Editor in General)
Just look at those plums!! A few weeks ago we had our plums harvest (or prune as Signora Rita next door calls them). We have about six plum trees and all of these and more dropped from the trees in one afternoon. They are delicious and a beautiful reddy purple colour. We had plum crumble and plum cake that week but most have now been made into fantastic jam. We have many bottles of this to last for a while and are putting some in small (R**n A*r size) pots to give to our guests when they leave. Here is a recipe link for you.
You may have seen the stone table in the picture in a couple of our other of photos and we have another of these in the garden. We think that these tables date from around 1874 as they seem the same age as a stone sink we have in the old kitchen/new lounge we have just begun to renovate. The other week a charming elderly man came by looking longingly at the house and how beautiful and familar it was to him. He lived in the house with his family between 1944 and 1946 and remembers playing under the stone tables as a child and using them as a den. He seemed very happy to recall those times and the beautiful view we have from the house and also to see the house being renewed – so are we!