Tomorrow the Walking Festival begins in the Tuscan Archipelago it will end on May 8th. This festival takes place throughout five of the archipelago’s islands (not Gorgona or Montecristo).
What does food have to do with walking…it’s true that walking makes you hungry, your appetite grows and so on but how about cuisine and the art of cooking? Is there a connection?
Yes, there is.
In fact during these walks you discover and learn how to recognise spontaneous herbs and after a day of uphills and downhills and a long shower we meet in a typical restaurant where we eat dishes made with those herbs. Ancient recipes that were once made by our grandmotherswhen there were no supermarkets but plenty of poverty and misery. These women invented the art of cooking because they created tasty and flavorful meals using “weeds and herbs”. Today we discover that these herbs are also healthy and rich with nutrients and especially all those values that we can’t find in vegetables we normally buy in stores that have been regularly cultivated, and like my grandfather always said “things that struggle to grow are good for you”. Today it’s almost a priviledge to eat these spontaneous herbs, because you need time to go out and look for them, to clean them, to boil them and so on…long preparations that we don’t have any time to dedicate to our kitchen. The Walking Festival is an opportunity to eat minestra di tranapecori e finocchietto selvatico, insalata di ombelico di venere, tortelli di broccoli e bietola selvatica, frittelle di fiori di acacia o di tenerume.
Depending on the hike or walk you choose the menu of the restaurant where you’ll dine will also change, for example if you walk down a mine in the evning you’ll dine with the miner’s chow: boiled octopus, potato stew, sburrita di baccalà (i will publish recipe soon), a vegetable and egg soup, zerri in carpione, palamita sott’olio, tonnina cipolla e pomodoro. When life was tough and harsh there really wasn’t much time to go out and fish so in order to eat faster the leftover dinamite was thrown into the sea and plenty of fish floated to the surface. How could the miners throw all that fish away, being that they had no fish….they wouldn’t but they did however use different methods to preserve it. In my next post I will give you this recipe that preserves the fish for months, and every month that goes by gives it an extra something.
If trekking brings us to the feet of the Capanne in the Caprili area and we end up in a small port, at night we’ll eat goat and sheep cheese, poor sardines (simple or salted) and fish soup or fried fish. If the restaurant is on a mountainous windy road we might eat wild boar or mouflon.
Everything is accompanied by Ansonica, this authoctonous white grape varietal found in the archipelago that someone, and I’m thinking of someone on the Island of Giglio, still has the courage to grow in the old manner. This means a donkey, the hot sun and leaning over on your back all day to take care of the vineyard and then vinify as if it were a white varietal, this gives Ansonica its amber color, a strong and rustic color very similar to the character of the people living in these islands.
At the end of the meal we drink the precious Aleatico wine to sweeten our mouths.
What are you waiting for? Come walk on these islands that are milions of years old, take the time to get to know them and step after step, or bite after bite discover this unique territory. Here all you have to do is sit at our table and a history lesson will be served. Buon Appetito!
Guest post by Caterina Signorini, we met in this occasion and have kept in touch ever since my visit to the Ginevro Mine.
*names of spontaneous herbs have been purposely left in dialect and italian.