Grissini (Crisp bread sticks)

One of the things Tuscans like when the summer heat makes them  dizzy and lazy is enjoying a chilled glass of wonderful Prosecco with crisp grissini and a couple of dips. Neither this lovely white sparkling wine nor the long, brittle and slender bread sticks have a Tuscan origin. The first one, in fact, comes from the Veneto/Friuli Venezia Giulia region,

the latter from Piedmont. The reason for the huge success is probably because when the temperatures are really high, you just want to drink something nice and fresh and eat little and light snacks. Obviously there are many recipes, all delicious, but I wanted to start with the most simple version. First you want to understand what it tastes like, then you can add chopped kitchen herbs, spices or seeds and create your own special grissini.

  • 500 gr. all-purpose flour
  • 15 gr. yeast
  • 50 gr. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small spoonful sugar
  • 8 gr. salt
  • 280 ml lukewarm water

Sift flour into a large bowl, make a well in the center, add the crumbled yeast and the sugar as well as a little lukewarm water. Mix delicately to dissolve the yeast. Now add a little at a time olive oil, salt, flour and the remaining water. Work the dough thoroughly until it is smooth and elastic. Give the dough an oval shape, sprinkle the surface with a little

olive oil and cover with a plastic wrap. Leave to raise until the dough has doubled in bulk. With a sharp knife cut finger sized pieces, roll and tear if they are too thick and place on a baking sheet. Bake for totally about fifteen minutes at 200° C first from on, then from the other side. The grissini must be crispy and golden brown. Once they are cold they can be stored in airtight containers for about three days.

Cut a couple of eggplants in half lengthways. Place on a baking tray and bake at fairly high temperature until they are soft. Scrape the flesh out of the skins. Blend together with olive oil, salt, pepper, freshly chopped basil or peppermint to taste. Serve at room temperature.

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Eggplant dip

Cut a couple of eggplants in half lengthways. Place on a baking tray and bake at fairly high temperature until they are soft. Scrape the flesh out of the skins. Blend together with olive oil, salt, pepper, freshly chopped basil or peppermint to taste. Serve at room temperature.

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Cheese dip

Blend your favorite creamy cheese qualities like ricotta, gorgonzola, mascarpone. Add yoghurt, fresh cream or milk for the right consistence. Flavor with salt and nutmeg. Serve cool but not chilled.

Anneliese Rabl …. finding a life in Tuscany

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Love story?

For me, Tuscan marshlands are one of the most amazing places to visit. There is something fascinating, soothing and peaceful hardly to explain, one must come and go for a walk to feel and understand. Inside this huge territory, actually one of the biggest in Italy, there is a busy life: birds, fishes, butterflies, hares, turtles, crabs, snakes, varieties of river rats all crawling, swimming, diving and flying around trying on one side not to be swallowed down and on the other not to die of hunger. Here in the marshlands there is nothing shocking or violent about the circle of life.

On my last visit and photo shooting my attention was caught by dark feathered birds, big like hens with a white facial shield on the front. Eurasian coots (Fulica atra), that’s their name, are not easy to photograph because they have not only a perfect black feather coat but dark eyes, too. Furthermore, they keep a prudent distance from people.

There were several coots swimming around but I had the impression that two of them were engaged or had at least a closer friendship. One must have even been playing with the idea of building a nest because every now and then he examined a blade of grass or a twig which means that his intentions were serious. They seemed to have great fun

swimming around and diving in search of food and there was something very intimate in their behavior. Then, apparently from nowhere, a third coot  advanced, doing as if he was searching for food whereas he was actually trying to reach the young female. All of a sudden, the air seemed to be filled with testosterone and the two guys ruffled their

feathers trying to appear huge and scary. At first they just looked at each other, by  keeping a security distance of about two meters which seemed to be sufficient to calm them down. But the intruder was either imprudent or blind of love, because he went on

courting the young lady making the actual fiancé losing his temper. Determined to defend his territory he chased the young coot who was running with much splashing faster than the wind across the water surface. Incredible, but they were really running over the water! In the end, the intruder was banned onto the tiny island in the middle of the pond, far away from the young female coot.

The brave bird swam back to his fiancé and she was there waiting for him and only for him – this time. Because what can happen is that while he is defending female and territory another young coot does not waste a second and enjoys a brief, passionate and spontaneous experience of sexual activity with the consentient (!) young lady. On the warriors return young Romeo has strolled away but the couple, at a proper time, will most likely have a nice enlarged family with several newborns from different fathers.

Almost all birds, water birds even more, stay with the same partner for the whole life. Female water birds, however, presumably aware of the high mortal rate of her youngsters, and the waste of energy of her partner while defending what he considers his, make sure that the progenies will be generously plentiful anyway. Mother earth’s divine design…

Anneliese Rabl …. finding a life in Tuscany

Posted in Categoria 4, Spring | 4 Comments

SPRING

Daisy

So, finally, the mildest, softest and most promising season of the year is ready to welcome us! If I had lived more than two thousand years ago in ancient Rome, I’d be getting ready to celebrate the Floralia festival (April 28 to May 3) in honor of Flora, goddess of nature. I would share the religious ceremonies and the sacrifices, the goat and hare races and probably even throw broad beans, symbol of fertility and wealth. There is just one doubt: should I have been a man to be able to do all this?

A little more northerly, instead,  always two thousand years ago, I would have been gathering young green tops of edible plants perfect to be transformed into food, a nice hot soup for example, to  recharge me with vitamins and mineral salts, so hard to find during the winter in cold countries. Knowing me quite well I would have fought side by side with the Green Man, companion of the Goddess of the Earth and together we would have snatched out of the frozen clutches of the King of the Winter  the fields, forests and meadows, allowing nature to restore. A touching ceremony which in Italy however does not serve because the King of Winter, at least until today, has but sent some freezing wind blows  and  a couple of snowflakes.

Therefore, I will celebrate the arrival of spring as I always do, going for a walk; weather permitting, even two or three. I breathe the mild air, admire nature, which is incredibly beautiful indeed, and search for young greens and/or flowers to be transformed into salad, boiled vegetables for stuffing or jam. Sometimes I wonder  if I were a flower what I’d like to be.  A light green hellebore, very elegant and gracious with its head bowed downwards?

No, that’s not my thing. A daisy then, a tiny sunflower with white petals, at the moment still on very short stalks to avoid catching the few yet cold wind blows of the winter. No, rather not. A snowdrop then? More likely, but it lives hidden in damp underwood,  not my favorite place. A crocus? Stunning!  I love the ephemeral  fragility  and the pale violet color. But it’s too delicate! This could never be me.  Well what then? I don’t know, I want color! A violet? Why not but then…I don’t know. A daffodil? Right! It has a long stalk compared with the other spring flowers and therefore a perfect overview! Furthermore I really like the shiny yellow color. Last but not least, it has a very subtle but lovely  fragrance which most of the people to not even notice. Ok I think I’d be a daffodil.

Time flies, real life with its responsibilities is waiting. What was I looking for? Of course, taraxacum or dandelion blossoms, perfect for jelly, delicious on toasted bread but very useful against colds, too. Here’s the recipe.

Dandelion jelly

4 handfuls of fresh organic bright dandelion flowers

1,5 l of water

1 kg of sugar circa

2 lemons, juice

Pull the yellow petals from the green flower cups. Boil for about ten minutes in 1,5 l of water. Leave to cool for half a day. Strain and weigh. Add the same quantity of sugar and the lemon juice and boil on a fairly high flame until the liquid has reached the right

consistency. (Drop a small spoonful of jelly onto a plate. Leave to cool for two, three minutes, then slightly tilt the plate. The jelly is ready, if it slowly glides down. If it’s too liquid, continue boiling and stirring until the right consistency is reached).  This may take more than an hour but you avoid adding chemical pectin to your one hundred percent natural product which makes the effort worth. Transfer into clean glass containers and seal immediately.


Anneliese Rabl …. finding a life in Tuscany

Posted in Categoria 4, Herbal simples, Recipes, Spring | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Odyssey of a distracted photographer

I’m pretty sure that many of you know the dilemma: going for a walk in company with or without your photo camera. If you leave it at home you don’t stress your  friends with “wait a minute”, “let me have a closer look”, “hold on a second”, “would you mind if…”. At the same time, however,  it is very likely that if the camera isn’t with you,  the shot of your life is waiting around the corner! Fortunately I have a very nice friend who loves to be photographed and we  have a mutual, non-verbalized agreement. She lets me take all the pictures  I want in exchange for  a fair amount of photos of her. More than acceptable!

I had just spent one thousand five hundred euros (nearly two thousand dollars) for a new lens and  was impatient to see how it worked. So, in honor of  my purchase,  last week-end we decided to leave our usual tracks and go for something new.  At a certain point, the pathway ended in  the middle of nothing and as we did not want to go back, we forwarded in the nearby brooklet  bed.  It was exciting because close to the water we saw things we had never thought to find…shy white snowdrops  with hanging heads,  strange, dark brown, terrace-formed mushrooms glued to tree trunks, wild orchids, even an amazingly beautiful black/yellow fire salamander, there in the water, enjoying its freshness and not caring about us at all. By now grey clouds had covered the sky and the underwood absorbed just about all the light. After having made a fair quantity of photos we went back home but I had a feeling that the bad light and the new lens had not made a perfect job.

Exactly this happened and only a couple of shots were nice. It was a little, but not too much frustrating: I would go back to the place and make some decent photos. What happened then is an authentic nightmare.

1. Went back to the place with a more appropriate lens. Snowdrops, orchids and mushrooms where still there, the fire salamander obviously  not.  On my return home I had a careful look at the images through a big monitor revealing that tiny, light brown insects had been walking over the snowdrops which made them look ugly.

2. Meanwhile I had read an article from a famous professional photographer who had underlined the importance of using a tripod.  I own one but basically never use it, did however understand the message and decided to return to the brooklet bed  equipped by the right lens,  nice weather, positive thinking  – and  the tripod.

3. After having  drowned the ugly parasites on the delicate white flower bells and stalks with water, I was  ready to take one of the best snowdrop picture  the world has ever seen! It was late afternoon and the sun was preparing to go down. The sparking light was stunning! I shot and shot and shot, the atmosphere was incredible and I was fulfilled with gratitude for the great gift nature had offered me so generously.  Then something terrible happened. Right before  I was ready for  my very last image I realized that I had not turned the stabilizers off before fixing the photo camera onto the tripod. I was more than sure that  the images would all have had the  “stabilizers on while the camera was fixed on tripod” effect.

4.  At that point I was just about to give up. The initial snowdrop photos would have looked fine on the small blog about spring. But the point is that “I” knew that they were not. That’s why I returned to the small brooklet. Again. With me was my camera, different lenses, a tripod, concentration and a lot of good will.  The result was definitely what I was expecting from the new lens.

What did I learn from this story? Check your equipment, check your equipment and check your equipment again.  I know! But I knew it before, too…

Anneliese Rabl …. finding a life in Tuscany

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Spring will come…this time for good!

I heard it this morning… a high pressure area (anticyclone) is coming towards Tuscany from the Azores. This means sunny, mild weather  at least until Sunday – maybe for the whole next week. Yes, please!

When moving to Italy, one of the first differences I noted between me (German) and Tuscans, was the completely different approach to spring. In Germany things have always been easy. Winter was cold, one had to wear warm clothes, there was central heating everywhere (not so in Tuscany),  the low temperatures never leave any doubt about the season. Spring announced its entry with the first, most common spring flower: the daisy. Actually, there were also snowdrops and cowslips. These were the signs; still cold but spring was about to push the door handle down and enter into our world. And Northerners, trustful to their origin, would have been deeply grateful  that the Green Man, once again,

had saved mankind from the chilly clutches of winter. In Tuscany, I found things to be totally different because the beginning of spring was a complete  mystery to me. The 21th of March, of course, but this was just a pro forma date without any value. February could turn up with sunny warm days, beginning of March, too. The climate in Tuscany is not suitable for snowdrops or cowslips and daisies would grow all over the year! So how could

one understand when spring starts? Easy…from the shop windows! From where else?? It’s like magic…from one day to the other, and it does not seem to depend on the weather, spring is there bringing lovely, colorful, stylish skirts, shirts, trousers, shoes and belts. They are soft and light like feathers promising new life, new love, fun. No other season of the year reveals more who is a foreigner and who an Italian: whereas the first is deeply feeling the new season, the second is wearing it. And at that point, an authentic Italian would in no case return to winter clothes or a warm coat, not even if the temperature would drop down considerably. After quite a lot of years, I found out that here spring is not worth a rush and if it was not for the new fashion collections, people

would probably ignore it completely. Whilst Northerners pay court to the most promising season of the year through all kinds of celebrations, Italians would rather complain where the hell it has been and why it had taken so long to show up! In thirty years, after having absorbed just about everything one can about Tuscany I am able to feel and think like the people who live in this lovely piece of earth. But when spring comes, my deep rooted pagan

origin gushes forth and flows right into the air to become one with the gorgeous  flowers, the tender leaves of bushes and trees, the apple, peach and almond blossoms. Yes, I am Italianized, but with fervent ancestor’s blood flushing through my veins and a heart filled with thankfulness that this year, too, spring has come to lighten up my days and my life! It is stronger than me, every day I must go outside and walk through the fresh green. I need to smell, touch and taste it and  cannot return home without a big bunch of flowers gathered in the fields and forests. These all find a place in vases which I distribute throughout my house to make sure that spring is around me everywhere.

And now, let me have a look at my wardrobe…

Anneliese Rabl …. finding a life in Tuscany

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AppTiAmo

The very first time I had a closer look at a love declaration written on a wall was on a photo shoot in Tuscany, near the marshlands, known as “padule”. Under a small bridge, in big dark brown letters a drooling soul had decided to share his sweet pain with the whole world – and the loved one:”ogni tua parola e’ una goccia di amore che voglio bere”. Which, when translated to English means, “each of your words is a drop of love I want to drink”.


From that moment on, I had a careful look at the  messages left on the streets, walls, banisters and in places where young people meet, or where the author presumes his urgent message will be read by the object of his secret veneration. It opened up a completely new world and placed me straight in the center of “I need you’s”, “Be mine forever’s”, “I want to caress you’s”, “You are my world’s” and more. I found myself in a dimension I had not been before. When I was young we shared tender feelings too, but written on paper sent in a very discrete and private way. I must say that it was practical, too. The love letters, in fact, could be easily kept in a book or a diary, always at hand to be read again. But naturally, this way was not quite so remarkable!

Lovers have always found a way to declare their feelings and we know that the ancient Egyptians, Greek and Romans were pretty familiar with nails, chisels or pieces of carbon, unfailing tools to carve or “scratch” = graffire (that’s where the term graffito comes from) tender words on stone walls and streets. Some Roman noblemen used to count the number of the females he had conquered by writing their names over the bed…


Today things are different. We are citizens of a global world of the twenty-first century and have other utensils, like for example photography, to communicate what we want others to know. But love is still love, and gentle feelings are still gentle feelings waiting to be put – at least here in Tuscany – into words, in order to find an open space where everyone can see and read them. For all those who would like to share with others what is hidden in their heart and have got neither a camera nor a chisel at hand, this app is just perfect. It is on one side the result of revisiting a tradition, old like the world, and one the other side a modern way for sharing love, passion, longing, need… perhaps sometimes a little hate, too. Are you prepared to dive into this emotional whirlwind?

DOWNLOAD

Anneliese Rabl

Anneliese Rabl …. finding a life in Tuscany

Posted in Categoria 4, Winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Olive tree – may I introduce myself?

Early in November is usually the beginning of the olive crop season and if it does not rain,  we shall start harvesting  today.  It is cold but dry and I arrive punctually at my new workplace, i.e. the olive grove, known as campo (field). Three men are already working:  on well-fixed ladders, tied around the strong upper branches of the  trees, they are picking the olives by hand and make them fall into the nets placed under the trees. It is the women who gather them – among them me – and the children and it is always us who draw the nets in order to heap the olives – unfortunately also the leaves –  and   separate one from the other. The sorting is boring but important and must be well learned because too many leaves make the oil bitter and can affect the smooth process in the oil mill. On the other hand, they are partly responsible for the typical, green colour of the oil, which many people like and greatly appreciate.  The olives are then transferred to boxes. We have just finished gathering the olives from the first tree when a strong wind rises and brings deep, black clouds. Continuing the harvest could be dangerous, because skilled pickers know that olive branches simply break without giving any forewarning. As we do not want to lose the whole day, the men decide to place most of the nets under the trees. These must be fixed very well to avoid the wind blowing them away. Before doing this they ask me to gather the olives  which have fallen on the ground, a backbreaking job and hard on the legs, but nevertheless important – at least this is what they tell me,  and it has to be done.  The grove is slightly inclined and one of the first things I learn is to gather the olives  in a kneeling position, bent towards the slope and not the other way around to avoid  suffering of the knees. How tiny they are, these little drupes, and how perfectly they hide in the grass, under the leaves and between the damp clods of earth…

I have a closer look at the olive trees around me: it would not be a bad idea to find out more about these companions of the following  Sundays. The problem is that I have no relationship at all with the Olea europea sativa, its name in Latin according to the encyclopaedia I consulted. There is no resemblance to the trees of my childhood: it is not huge like a fir, its branches do not invite the building of  a tree house and it doesn’t have the strong, confidence inspiring trunk of an oak. The leaves do not have a pleasant smell, the flowers are tiny, of an insignificant white/greenish colour and with its drupes you cannot create small figures or animals as you can with chestnuts or acorns. These memories do not make the tree more likeable to me, but I try not to be prejudiced. The olive trees around me are of average height, usually they do not pass three, four, rarely five metres, although I have seen some reaching twelve metres and more. The olive tree owners keep the trees short by pruning them regularly to facilitate harvesting,  which is comprehensible because the fragile branches do not actually invite you to climb up high among the clouds. The olive tree is an evergreen: if I were pedantic I would have to specify that it is not really green: the definition does not refer to the colour of the leaves but to the fact that it never remains without leaves which, by the way,  are grey green on the upper side, silvery underneath and covered with fine down which prevents them drying up. These little, thin, longish-oval leaves feel indeed smooth when touching the upper side.

“Are you sleeping?” I hear a voice behind me.  One of the pickers on a nearby olive tree  laughs.

“No”, I answer “I just wanted to have a better look at the leaves”.

“Do you know why the olive tree doesn’t grow in cold countries?”

“Why don’t you tell me?” , I ask him, smiling.

“Well, it needs the right  temperature to grow well. During gemmation,  it must not fall under ten degrees centigrade. In this case you can admire the long, luxuriant clusters of small white-greenish  flowers around May/June. In summer, when the drupes start to grow, the tree needs a temperature of at least fifteen degrees centigrade, and not less than twenty during ripening, i.e. when the colour of the olives changes from green to yellow and finally to purple. Fifteen degrees centigrade is the temperature required for perfect ripeness, around October/November and, as you see, we are here to harvest them. Olive trees can even tolerate wintry temperatures of five degrees centigrade below zero,  which are sometimes reached during the harvest season. This is because they are not really sensitive to cold, but to sudden temperature variations, responsible for  crevices in  stems and branches.  Olive trees grow well on arid soil and need little water, however they love the delicate spring and summer rain. This specific need for certain temperatures is the reason why all attempts to extend their cultivation towards northern and rougher regions have failed. In a few words, your country  is too cold and too rainy.”

“Thank you! That was indeed very interesting”.

“You are welcome. You see, the Mediterranean people have a very special relationship with the tree, that you Northerners  cannot understand”, he continues with a proud smile on his face. “For us it is a symbol of wisdom, beauty and peace. Olive trees and water  give us all we need. Shadow in summer, firewood in winter, nutritious fruits, oil for cooking  and for lighting. This might not be very realistic, (in fact, it isn’t!) but gives the idea. What about the importance of the olive tree in the Universal deluge?! After endless days of rain Noah let a dove fly to see if the water  had started to go down and land could be found. On its first attempt the bird did not find earth on which to land but on the second it returned in the evening carrying an olive branch to signal the end of the Universal deluge. When you next go to Florence, take some time to visit the cloisters of Santa Maria Novella and look at the fresco “Universal deluge” by Paolo Uccello (1397-1475). He painted this marvellous scene in his work of art.”

“I’ll do that.”

The ice is broken and someone else explains that there are several varieties of olives, subdivided in three groups: olives to produce olive oil, those to be eaten at table and olives for either use. Although the different shapes and properties of the olive or drupe, the correct botanical term,  differ quite a lot from one variety to another it always consists in skin (exocarp), pulp (mesocarp) and woody stone (endocarp), containing the seed. The oil inside the drupe develops while the olive is ripening and contains the largest quantity of oil when the drupe shows its most intensive colour, i.e. a little before it is completely ripe. This is the moment when the oil content of the pulp reaches up to seventy percent   oil and the stone the remaining thirty percent. Before the drupes reach this grade of ripeness  they do not contain any oil, but a mixture of organic acids and sugar. When the olives are ready to be picked they contain  about 50 % water, 20-24 % oil,  20 % sugar, 6 % cellulose, 1,5 % proteins.  The grade of ripeness during harvest is decisive for the organoleptic properties of the oil and together with the harvest process, transport and the time that passes between picking and pressing the olives determines the quality of the final product. Generally you could say that the table olives are bigger  than those for the oil production and they also have a larger proportion pulp/stone, whereas the main qualities of the other olives consist in a better yield and a higher quality of oil. Here in the campo we are gathering the qualities Frantoio, Leccino, Moraiolo and Pendolino, species cultivated in Tuscany by tradition for centuries. In our case – we are not official producers – they are being used  for  the oil production as well as for the home made preservation in brine by simply picking the same perfect olives (in spite of my previous words).

Our first working Sunday is drawing to an end. The weather is rapidly getting worse, the sky is becoming darker and darker, there is a strong wind and the clouds are racing over our heads with impressive speed. My feet are getting cold, my hands too, mainly the fingertips.  It is time to go home.  During this first harvest day I had noticed a slight backache and after hours and hours in the same position it was not easy to return from a bent to an upright one.  When I arrive home I realize that my legs are numb and not even a long, hot shower helps to make them feel better. Meanwhile, however, it has become clear why those people to whom I had talked about my intention to take part in picking olives had all looked  at me with compassion. And I also understand  why almost all the members of the owner’s family had something to do elsewhere this Sunday.

Why did I have a good time anyway and what, despite all, made me feel so happy and satisfied? Could it be the contact with  these genuine, openhearted, quick-witted Latinos  with their sharp and ironic remarks, so different from the  taciturn, reflective, melancholic people from my country? These thoughts remind me of my roots: what  am I doing in an olive grove? Where are the fir and  oak trees of my fatherland?? (excerpt from Athena’s Gift, Anneliese Rabl)

Anneliese Rabl …. finding a life in Tuscany

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Italian women

After so many years abroad I don’t remember how things used to be in Germany, but I have noticed that in Tuscany it is pretty difficult to get in touch with Italian women. Not that they are divided from the world by wearing a burqa, or that they are not permitted to speak with other people. It must have to do with their values, I suppose, or better yet, the value Italian society is willing to give them. Many have been, and still are, raised with a unique goal: find a husband. This means that they must look beautiful, they should cook decently, know how to keep the house clean and look after the (possibly male) children. No independent life or brilliant career can compete with a man at your side!

Consequently, any creature wearing a skirt turns into a potential risk. For this reason, the “gentle sex” here it Italy has developed highly sensitive radar skills. Is the lady in front of me a rival? Has she got a cute, small nose? Are there sexy freckles on it? Does the small toe of her left foot look better than mine? Is she attractive enough to catch my husband’s eye? Italian women are terrible judges and there is no mercy, no solidarity, no understanding whatsoever. Fortunately they can’t kill you, but, if you look pleasant, they will do anything to get rid of you.

The only place where I risk to approach Italian women safely is …the supermarket. If I ask their help, they choose the most tender piece of meat, they tell me how to best cook seafood, give me advice on the preparation of artichokes, eggplants and all the other vegetables I do not know from my homeland. They are open, friendly and caring and it is a real pleasure to exchange recipes with them. Yesterday, for example, a nice Tuscan lady explained to me how to bake “branzino (sea bass) in salt crust” in the oven, which turned out to be delicious!

Once the shopping is done and everything is paid, the magic fades away and daily life repossess the female population, their feelings and thoughts. I have returned into a potentially dangerous hand grenade. They, into the usual nasty beasts. But every now and then, one or the other catches me from the corner of her eye, sending me a smile, even outside our peaceful island, and I dare smile back. Could be a good sign…

Anneliese Rabl …. finding a life in Tuscany

Posted in Autumn, Categoria 4 | 8 Comments

Chestnut season

Due to its imposing size, the chestnut tree in ancient times was considered holy to Jove, king and father of the deities and protector of human beings and its fruits were called lovis glandes, Jove’s acorns. For centuries chestnuts have been one of the most important food for the Tuscan country folk and the mountain population. They were eaten roasted, boiled,

as stuffing and in stews; a considerable quantity was transformed into flour, a basic ingredient for bread, cakes and noodles.  As late as the forties on the Tuscan hills and the Apennine Mountains, at least two meals a day were made from chestnuts. In order to vary this rather monotonous menu those assigned to the kitchen had to employ all their imagination. The result was amazing and the list of recipes with Jove’s acorns is still

noteworthy. During the chestnut season you won’t find a  restaurant without at least a couple of dishes with chestnuts as a basic ingredient. One, common for Tuscans but definitely interesting for the tourists from all over the world is the preparation of “necci” respecting the ancient tradition. Using an appropriate implement, the cook places in a pile a very hot, deliberately rounded stone, two or three dried, oiled chestnut leaves, a ladle of a

slightly liquid dough made of chestnut flour, water, a little olive oil and a pinch of salt. This mixture must be covered with more chestnut leaves, on top of which another burning hot stone must be laid, which presses the dough transforming it into a thin disk. On the basis of the smoke and the smell , the expert’s well trained eye and nose know exactly when it is time to remove a package or another from the pile of hot stones. Now it is sufficient to remove the chestnut leaves and voilà a delicious “neccio”, good to eat as it is or served with fresh, preferably sheep ricotta. Delicious!

Anneliese Rabl …. finding a life in Tuscany

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Foto available from November 21 to November 27, 2011

Small Unframed Photograph Print (12 x 18) € 100,00

Medium Unframed Photograph Print (16 x 22) € 190,00

Large Unframed Photograph Print (26 x 36) € 520,00

Buy www.annelieserabl.com  Foto Art Prints

Anneliese Rabl …. finding a life in Tuscany

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