May 22, 2011
Not long ago she lived in trendy Trastevere among wine bars and super-chic Romans. She wore stilettos and took her coffee on Piazza Santa Maria.
Now Roberta wears rubber shoes and lives among cows and pigs, horses and dogs, carobs and rocks. Gnarled olives sway in yellow skies; she’s landed in a Van Gogh canvas come to life. Out in the direction of Africa, there’s the distant glint of the sea.
“I’m not a country girl,” she insisted a few years ago when she bought the tumble-down Sicilian farm house.
I watch now as she saws the lettuce root off with a knife. She rinses the leaves in an outdoor sink, tucks them into a tea towel, and spins her arm around like a windmill.
“Is that a Sicilian farmer’s technique?” I ask.
“No,” she says. “I did the same thing hanging out my window in Rome.”
How virtuous it feels to eat lettuce just five minutes out of the ground, seasoned with a just-plucked lemon and Sicilian sea salt.
We also eat a salad of carrots, provolone cheese, basil, and almonds.
And the traditional Sicilian cucuzza soup. Cucuzza is the baseball bat-size zucchini that’s in all the markets now.
Roberta Corradin is the author of Taste and Tradition: A Culinary Journey Through Northern and Central Italy. (Yup, I helped.)