I am home alone. The viking travelled back to Norway to celebrate the wedding of a friend (Hurra Knut!). Tonight, the wind gently peaks from the open windows and the heat feels more like a reassuring hug rather than a ‘you shall faint now‘ arm choke.
I have been walking around the whole day and, after a couple of phone calls with friends I opened a bottle of cold Aligoté and started reading The Underground Railroad on my kindle. I could not focus on the book so I decided to water the plants.
We managed to grow quite an impressive urban garden on our balcony. Among other plants, we have a monster zucchini that is spreading for meters and meters. It is so big that to capture its length in a picture we need to use the panorama function on the Iphone (#truestory).
I was never a garden aficionada. I actually hated helping my parents growing our food. I remember when I was a teenager, to punish me, my father once brought me to help him pick vegetables in our property and, I cried out of frustration among the weeds.
I come, however, from a family of gardeners. They all had other jobs but gardening and growing food was always a priority. I never understood the importance of it until, in my late 30s, I tried to do the same. Used as I am to going grocery shopping and finding all the ingredients I need for a meal, it was almost surprising to realize how long and how much care it takes for a fruit or a vegetable to grow.
For my family it was not just a necessity, I believe, they love seeing the food ripen. Some people meditate, others sit on a stool and contemplate their gardens.
My grandfather used to do that. On warm summer nights, it was not unusual to see him sit in front of his garden waiting for the irrigation system to do its job. It was so soothing to look at him. Passing by, I smiled shaking my head, not really understanding what he was doing. He just looked content.
The mornings were my grandma’s realm, she woke up early to go and pick the produces to cook our daily meal. She still does that and it’s such a luxury. Imagine: waking up thinking: “What am I going to make today”. Walk a few steps to peek at what is ready and come up with a recipe right there, while you feet are still in the mud and you are surrounded by the smell of basil.
I have learned everything from my grandparents. I’ve learned unconditional love, patience, decency and fantastic recipes.
Since he left three years ago I miss my grand dad. But every time I am on the balcony contemplating the plants, I feel like he never left.
Insalata di fagiolini
(for two people)
400 gr of french beans
4 anchovies fillets
4 cloves of garlic
Olive oil EVO
2 hard boiled eggs
6 branches of purslane
1 red onion
100 ml white vinegar
100 ml water
2 tbsp salt
Salt & pepper
mint, dill, laurel
1 To quick pickle the purslane: Boil the vinegar with the water and the salt. Pour over the purslane. Wait 1 hour and then add two cloves of garlic sliced, mint, dill and laurel. Wait for two hours for a quick pickle.
2 Boil the french beans for 10 minutes in salted water. Drain and set aside.
3 Put 4 tbsp of olive oil in a pan with 2 cloves of garlic finely sliced. Fry the garlic until golden yellow. Add 4 anchovy fillets. Keep frying until the anchovies melt. Add a generous amount of pepper and set aside.
4 To assemble: Put some french beans on a plate. Add one boiled eggs cut in two halves. Sprinkle the olive oil, garlic and anchovy mixture. Add the pickled purslane, the olives and slices of red onion. Season with salt and pepper.
Ps: if you don’t have the purslane add half tbsp of white vinegar to each plate for acidity.