As a Christmas gift to us, I purchased a copy of Douglas Gayeton’s book “slow life in a tuscan town”. The book is a photographic narrative and is not only beautiful but interesting, especially if you have travelled in Tuscany. It is centered around the time he lived in a town, north-east of Florence, Italy, called Pistoia and features photos of many of the local people both famous and just plain folk.
I have written a number of times about our time spent in another small town in Tuscany called Panzano in Chianti and the Macelleria Cecchini. We have had the great pleasure to not only meet Dario Cecchini and his wife, Kim but to enjoy a wonderful outdoor lunch at MacDario, above the Macelleria, as well as a dinner at Solocicca, across from the Macelleria. The menu is made up of Dario’s interpretations of traditional Tuscan meat preparations. Next visit is for the bistecca!
The visits to Panzano became a touchstone to us and left us with a deep love of the Tuscan countryside and everything it provides for the table.
During one visit, tourists came into the Macelleria (it is very well known) and were surprised to see the spread that is always laid out for visitors who come by. Salami, wine, bread, cubes of “meatloaf” with red pepper mostarda and last but not to be forgotten once eaten, is their lardo. This concoction of whipped, seasoned pork fat is absolutely divine! The tourists were slightly shocked at the thought of eating lardo and when I made the comment, “if you eat butter, then what’s the difference?” Not sure what they thought of my comment, as I reached for another piece of bread and slathered on the lardo!
There are things that pull us back to our roots and make us remember how things were when we were growing up and our travels to Italy have done just that. So many memories of how things were done back then, like the egg lady at the bottom of our street or the guy who delivered the blocks of ice every week to place in the old Coca Cola cooler that sat on the porch of the “house” we were living in, my parents growing our vegetables, my mother canning fruits, tomatoes, salmon, and making jams. We lived very simply; we had a radio, no T.V., no phone, a wringer washing machine, no dryer but we had the basics, including an, ugh, outhouse! We ate mostly what was in season except bought iceberg lettuce for salad greens in the fall and winter. But in the summer….we lived it up! If you can believe it, this was in South Burnaby, B.C. Actually, it’s a wonder we did not have farm animals in the yard so they could make cheese!
That’s me and my dad in our front yard circa 1950! How about that lawn?