Summer Day in Montone

Sometimes you meet someone, and everything clicks, it’s like you’ve known them for a long, long time. Elaine and I are molti simpatici in the ktichen and that flows over into life in general.  Elaine Tin Nyo, artist and cook extraordinaire recently spent a few days with us, and she sent me this lovely e-mail describing one of the days.

I love the photo of the scouring brushes!

‘We’re having coffee on the piazza. Join us," said the note on the kitchen table. The two couples were there plotting the orto
that had been offered them the day before by Sr Bruschi. How would they
clear all the hip-high weeds? Clearly it was left to Jeff and Jude to
decide since the other couples would not be in town most of the summer.

We
shuffled about and made some lists. The bells in town were going crazy.
People were shouting in the streets. It was Saturday and it seems two
local kids were getting married in the church on our street. Everyone
looked splendid. Everyone sounded happy as we headed down the hill.
Down we went to Umbertide to the mulino
(the mill) and the farm supply store beside it. Now I have a
confession: as a traveler, I am always happy to see the great cultural
sites and treasures (the painting by so-and-so, the such-and-such
stolen during this-or-that war) but what I really love is running
errands with the locals. I like going to buy a bunch of carrots,
picking up a pair of contact lenses, choosing a pair of shears and a
hand scythe, and browsing the beekeeping department while having some
keys made. Before I know it we are back in Montone and peering over the
fence at the orto.
scouring brushes
Jude makes vitello tonnato and
I make a green salad. Trying not to let on that I have no idea what it
is she is making, I sneak sideways glances. She is making a divine
tunafish salad, starting with her own freshly made mayonnaise. Capers
are involved. Then she pulls some meat from the frigo and slices it
thin. Jeff sets the table on the roof of the house. Wine, food, some
chatting, the cats join us too. The meat is spread in a single layer on
a plate the tuna stuff is spread on top. The whole thing is cold. I
confess that I have only had this dish once in a
terrible Italian restaurant in Germany. This is not even in the same
food group. this is crazy delicious. More wine and stories. All the
roofs of Montone are spread out around us. There are two bell towers in
town. One that is rung by the cloistered nuns, the manner in which the
rung the bells is a topic of speculation. The bells ring and ring.
There is a wedding feast happening somewhere in town. There is a band
and drumming. It is joyously hot here. Pretty soon I am stretched out
on the seat staring up at the drying tablecloth flapping in the wind
and I have dosed off.
after lunch

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