Addio Roma, Hello Rubber Shoes

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.

Roberta Corradin with Lettuce, copyright Jann Huizenga

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.

Roberta Corradin in Sicily, copyright Jann Huizenga

“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.

Salad in Sicily, copyright Jann Huizenga

Note how Italians slice their lettuce into ribbons thin as fettuccine.

We also eat a salad of carrots, provolone cheese, basil, and almonds.

Carrot and Provolone Salad, copyright Jann Huizenga

And the traditional Sicilian cucuzza soup. Cucuzza is the baseball bat-size zucchini that’s in all the markets now.

Vegetable market in Sicily (including the long green cucuzza), copyright Jann Huizenga


Roberta Corradin is the author of Taste and Tradition: A Culinary Journey Through Northern and Central Italy. (Yup, I helped.)

Roberta Corradin in Sicily, copyright Jann Huizenga

Taste and Tradition: A Culinary Journey Through Northern and Central Italy by Roberta Corradin and Jann Huizenga










19 comments to Addio Roma, Hello Rubber Shoes

  • Dennis Berry

    We now live in the Walla Walla Valley. On the hill in back of our house we have seen as many as 30 deer at one time. Deer love gardens!!! This year we have signed up for a weekly delivery of organic veggies from Monteillet ( gardens. I hope they are as beautiful as Roberta’s.

    • Jann

      Dennis–that sounds pretty chic, getting veggies delivered each week. I see that place also runs workshops in how to make cheese. Hmm… maybe a new project for you? Have you finished your cabin? Roberta doesn’t have deer eating her garden, but there are rabbits to contend with, and her dogs dug up the onions…

  • A true taste of the good life.

  • liz

    Looking at the picture of those cucuzzas reminds of how we always had them growing on the fences, in our yard, here in Houston Texas. Sadly since my dad and nonna are both gone, there hasn’t been a cucuzza vine since. I think it is time to rekindle the old tradition, along with all the other things that used to grow in the garden…Now longing to get back to my Sicilian farming roots…thank you Jann and thank you Roberta…

    • Jann

      Ciao Liz–a great idea to get your cucuzzas growing again! Can you easily find the seeds for these in the US?

  • sandee wheeler

    Yes, this post leaves my mouth watering! Our local farmers market opened last week and I WILL go on Tuesday! I have been inspired. Strawberries and asparagus??

  • a woman after my heart…go grrrrl

  • John Schinina

    I guess now’s the time to change the title to Roberta’s Culinary Journey to include Sicilian Taste.

  • John Schinina

    What can I say,enjoy and continue making me jealous of everything you guys do.

  • Being quite the lover of zucchini, I would be thrilled to get my hands on a baseball-sized one from Sicily! What a lovely post, Jann, and like always, your photos are stunning! Roberta looks fantastic in her shots! I hope you’re fully recovered, by the way! 🙂

  • Wayne

    Roberta is – among other things- my Dogwalker! She even dedicated a book to my dog, Caruso!

  • But where do you keep the “stinco di maiale”?

    Abbracci grande,


    • Jann

      John, the thought of that makes me gag. But the neighbor’s pigs will soon turn into “stinco” (stinchi?) I’m quite sure.

  • Ciao Jann and Roberta! Roberta, you look so natural in this setting! 🙂 Can’t wait to sample some of your wonderful cooking! Hope all is going well…….

    p.s. love the shoes

  • Nice.
    Hope you are feeling better. I have these neighbors who keep giving us things — just last week – lettuce directly from the ground & this very baseball-sized zucchini. How did you know? (Ha.)
    Have a great week.

Site Meter - La directory italiana dei blog