| Douglas Gayeton
My shoes are caked with mud: a Tuscan photo diary
Part 2: La Giuseppina
Thursday, Apr 8, 2004 (03:55 PM)
I work two nights a week in a small restaurant set in Arcigliano, a hillside village a few miles outside the town where I live in Italy.
My job? I make fresh pasta, everything from spaghetti to tagliatelle to stuffed pasta (tortelli) to pasta with an assortment of vegetables added (spinach, basil, etc.), and while the work may sound glamorous, or at least interesting, the evening always ends with me behind a mountain of dishes and pots (the other half of my sobering culinary apprenticeship).
Since the ristorante (La Bottega del Poggio) is in a rather small village, word spread fast that un Americano was in the kitchen. One day "La Giuseppina" paid a visit. She had two pockets filled with fresh eggs just taken from her coop behind the restaurant. The chef cut her a large slice of pecorino cheese, wrapped it in paper, then offered her a few tomatoes. A wordless transaction. After she left the chef set her eggs aside. Recent EU laws now forbid the commercial use of food products grown by contadini or country people. The exorbitant costs associated with conforming to the EU's rigorous set of health codes, and paying to subject one's food to continual testing has effectively eliminated a number of rural "black market" jobs.
EPILOGUE: A partial solution to the problem of rapidly disappearing farm producers in rural areas has been the creation of agriturismi, an Italian variant on the bed-and-breakfast idea. You can spend a day, a weekend, or even a few weeks on a working farm and buy the local foodstuffs grown there. In this way, the prohibitive cost of running a working farm is offset by this increasingly popular form of Italian eco-tourism.
The restaurant where I work is actually part of an agriturismo called Poggio di Clo', makers of fine organic olive oil that can be ordered over the internet.
For more information on agriturismo:
|04/05||Part 1: Un Vero Macello|
|04/08||Part 2: La Giuseppina|
|04/12||Part 3: Una Scampagnata|
|04/20||Part 4: Vino Biodinamico|
|06/01||Part 5: Me Viene Latte Alle Ginocchia|