We’re back! And it was a fine, fine trip. The Friuli Venezia Giulia region is wonderful: great food, great wine, superb hospitality, mountains, ocean…what more could you ask for? I’m culling through our photos and I’ll post more later; but if you have the opportunity, it’s a fine place to visit.
Of course we came home to a completely empty kitchen because I cleaned everything out before we left, so Wednesday morning we were at the Umbertide market bright and early. What happened in the short time we were gone? When we left, there were a few tiny hints of color in the trees, now everything is literally bursting reds and yellows, even the produce. The first of the fall fruits are in, so we bought pomegranates, prickly pears, small blushing yellow pears, huge oranges, persimmons, all in the same orangey hues as the leaves. The first of the artichokes appeared! The Sicilian guys at the end of the market set up a small table that is heaped with artichokes, but these are artichokes with long stems and all their lower leaves. The procedure is that you stand in line, get a blue plastic bag and like a supplicant beggar, you proffer you empty bag as one of the ragazzo lops off the heads of the artichoke and drops it into your bag. 8 artichokes for 5 euros…which is expensive, but it’s the first of the season, and he was selling them as fast as he could lop their heads off.
We had some artichokes last night, raw and thinly sliced, topped with a bit of shaved parmigiana, some oil and a squeeze of lemon juice….divine…tender…and crunchy. We might have to have them again tonight…they were that good.
Looking at this gorgeous produce is comforting, I think because it means the season is changing, and it means that even as the financial crisis continues and we all quake, it’s not the end of the world, and there will be a spring with other good things to eat. At least I hope and think so. I wonder if all this gloom and doom and scary uncertainty will drive people back into the comfort and safety of their kitchens. Hey, you always have to look for the silver lining, right?