home in the hills
Our second lesson was to be held in a private home, high in the hills above Foligno, a little village in the area. We were welcomed by Rita and Sergio, a lovely couple and their son, Andrea. Rita took us into her kitchen to show us how to prepare some of her favourite recipes. We made "breakfast cake", a cake made with olive oil and flavoured with anise and lemon, among other things. When asked how much oil to use, Rita told us it was "a glassful". How much that meant was more precise than we could have imagined, as she flourished the very same glass her grandmother and mother before her had used! "This one", she said as we quickly estimated around 150 ml....The variety of dishes was endless: pizza rustica, different bruschetta, pasta and chickpeas, spelt ('farro') polenta with meat and mushrooms (cooked in a very curious soupy consistency and really delicious).
As well as wine, Sergio handed around some little thimbles of a homemade liquor, made by steeping certain leaves (? a kind of cherry) in local wine. After the meal, we took time to explore the estate (and work off the food!). Down the little path we went, along the ridge of the hills, past the tiny private chapel in the process of restoration, and past the numerous wild juniper bushes. The plains of Umbria - "the green heart of Italy" - were all around, spread out below us. It had been a delightful morning. We had learnt a lot, but tomorrow would bring yet another unusual cooking experience...