"The people who give you their food give you their heart" - Cesar Chavez

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Olive Trees, Grape Vines and Ewok Huts

In my free time I enjoyed for walks in the country side. Cefalicchio has 80 hectares of rolling grape vines and olive trees sprinkled with wild arugula and huge fig trees. Cefalicchio practices biodynamic farming which essentially treats the farm as an organism in and of itself. Using compost as a way of caring for the soil and limiting the need for external inputs. The photo above is from the Cefalicchio website and is taken from the view point on the tower on top of the villa. The pictures below are all from my walks. Arugula is growing all over the property, just sprouting up along dirt paths and in the hills. It doesn't look like the homogeneous arugula we are used to that comes washed 3x in sealed plastic bags at supermarkets. It is crisp and narrow with a jagged edge. In Puglia, Arugula is mostly used for pastas as opposed to salads but it can be enjoyed both raw and cooked. Here is a picture of a bushel of wild arugula on the ground:
As it turns out, I wasn't the only person excited about the wild arugula. I frequently saw locals from the nearby town of Canosa walking around with large plastic bags and picking their week's worth of the fresh greens and any wild herbs like thyme and rosemary that were growing around the area. Here is a photo of a lovely trio who showed me the best spots for arugula.
Around the beginning of August was the start of fig season. I thought I loved figs before I arrived in Italy, but I left Puglia having been completely spoiled with the best figs I've had in my life. Large, fleshy and growing in abundance! I remember when I arrived in Rome, after having had fresh figs every day in Puglia and being so disappointed with the overly priced shriveled and tasteless semi-green figs being sold at markets. Here is a picture of me holding a handful of arugula and a half eaten fig and in the background is a large fig tree which I frequented nearly every day! You can see the beautiful dark salmon color of the fig and how well it holds its round shape. Puglian figs are truly excellent.
Now for the Ewok huts! These are actually called Trulli and they are conical huts made from stone that have an ancient history and are normally built from solid limestone rocks. I've been told different stories regarding their original purpose but from what I gathered, they were used by farmers and laborers who needed to take breaks from the intense heat. Also, it served as a place for them to stay if they lived far away. Now, they seem to serve as sheds for storing tools and I found that some even had clothes inside. I think they look like adorable Ewok huts.

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