Friday, August 15, 2008


Every spring Stef's mum starts working on her 'orto', her kitchen garden. It's a patch of land in front of their family home that's rather large, about 10x10 meters (100sq ft) . By the time summer arrives, there is an abundant harvest of fresh vegetables from her garden each day.

She has a huge variety of lettuce leaves, like iceberg 'ghiaccio', romaine 'romana', and even my favorite, the peppery arugula 'rucola'. Perfect for making a fresh, crisp, pesticide-free salad tossed with olive oil, vinegar and a pinch of salt.

There's zucchini, 'zucchine', which really grows well. I have to admit, I've never eaten so much zucchini in my lifetime. But it's really good sliced up and sauteed in a pan. Sometimes for a treat, we add some pancetta.

Eggplant or 'melanzane' is a favorite of mine. I think she might be making eggplant parmigiana this weekend. I can't wait to taste it.

There's fennel or 'finocchio'. I've only had it as a seasoning and I like it that way. I've never really eaten the vegetable itself so it's something I've not gotten used to yet. It is eaten either raw or boiled.

There's leek or 'porro', which she puts into her minestrone soup. Yum.

There's a variety of herbs like sage or 'salvia', rosemary or 'rosemarino', and parsley or 'prezzemolo'.

And of course basil or 'basilico'. Pesto made with the home-grown basil is just amazing...

Along the fence there's also cucumbers 'cetrioli' and beans 'fagiolini'. She also has sugar snap peas 'piselli', cabbage 'cavolo' and carrots 'carote'.

And yes, also tomatoes that are great eaten fresh or made into tomato sauce for pasta. She's especially proud of her tomatoes this year. They turned out huge and a home-grown tomato that matures on the plant tastes nothing like a one bought a the store.

She also grows a few variety of flowers that she takes to the cemetary.

I'm sure there's more that I missed. She really takes pride in her garden and puts alot of sweat and effort into it, often times 2-3 hours a day. But the rewards are bountiful and lasts well into the winter (whatever cannot be eaten is canned in vinegar or oil, or put away in the freezer). We're also very lucky to always be sent home to Milan with a huge bag of fresh lettuce leaves, zucchini, cucumbers and whatever else that might be producing at the moment.

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