An area rich of tradition
An area rich of tradition
Since I was a child, while my parents and my Granddad worked in their farm, I spent the days with my Grandma Anita, trying to imitate her and help her by doing chores.
She used to wake up in the morning to pick up the eggs laid by the chickens, and then she fed the cows, the sheep, the rabbit, they were an actual part of the family.
In the evening, when the animals went to sleep, even in the dark she could easily spot where that specific sheep would be sleeping, or in which branch the chickens would rest!
At the time, every lineage had specific traditions, that would get bequeathed to the next generation. In my family, we used to give the trousseau to the nephew, it was made of pieces of hemp, sewed by the hands of my Grandma with love and patience, that would be then kept in a big old chest in her bedroom.
Hemp canvas was the only cloth available at the time, for it was planted
near very large basins, where animals use to drink pure water.
Hemp leaves that remained after the spinning were used by my Grandma to refine cheeses. At the end of June, when the sheep stopped producing milk, we had a problem regarding the conservation of the cheeses until January, when a new season of production would begin.
At the time, we didn’t have much money, and most gifts were possible thanks to trades, so my Grandma used to trade her Pecorino to get something that we could use at home, such as kitchen gear.
To trade as much as possible, she devoted herself to her extraordinary creations, that are kept with respect and gratitude in our house as we speak.
A farmhouse, buried in fog in autumn, but illuminated by the bright green of the fields in spring and summer.
When I was a child, I used to play around it and I knew every corner and every hole of it like the back of my head. Everything was a source of curiosity for me, and everything stoked my imagination.
I remember that in the hayloft behind my house were stored lots of broken vats, that my Granddad couldn’t use anymore to bottle wine. This mountain of wooden casks was just waiting for a new life and another duty to fulfill.
In August, my Grandma used to take them out and wash them daily for about ten days, and then left them to dry, under the sunlight. In the air, I could feel the scent of wood left drying in the sun and a tiny, yet important hint of sour wine that used to contain.
In the meanwhile, we picked up the spices and the flowers in our farm and we put crates of fruits to dry under the morning sun. Beautiful colors and smells filled the atrium in front of my house. These wooden crates, one by one, looked like a brush stroke in a fine painting.
Every vat, washed and then dried, got filled with these flowers and spices picked up and exsiccated, and then our cheeses were inserted inside, in order to absorb every hint of scent and fluid of these precious herbs.
My Grandma only produced Pecorino with raw milk with vegetal rennet acquired from artichokes, and to match every cheese with a flower, she changed the mold of that cheese.
Once a week, the Pecorino were removed from the vats, brushed, checked for any eventual crack and greased with hemp or flax oil.
The flower and the spice, that absorbed humidity in the course of the days, got substituted, lest the seasoning would quicken instead of slowing down. The Pecorino would, in fact, get too hard too soon.
This long, as well as obsessive work was done until the Christmas Celebrations, during which Pecorino would be used as a merchandise to operate trades.
And then, as time passed, I stole some of their secrets, and safeguarded them in my heart…