text and images Britt-Arnhild Wigum Lindland
I spent only one morning with her. One spring morning in Tuscany. During summers she ran a B&B on Sicily, now she had come to Santa Maria to cook for a group of artist who would arrive during the day. It was my last day at Santa Maria. When the stone masons came there would be no more room for me. One morning was what I had with the cook. Enough to make a deep impring in my heart.
She came in the morning, by train. Loaded with boxes and baskets of what she needed to make food for the Belgian artists, Fresh herbs from her garden close to Etna, a basket of oranges with blood red juice, she gave me one, the best I've ever tasted, honest!, bags with food and an enthusiasm out of this world. The first thing she did when she came was to overlook the kitchen. It took her five seconds and then she started. To make it all the way SHE wanted it during the week she was going to stay. After five minutes she had started a vegetable soup on the wood over, five minutes later she was out in the garden gathering herbs.
"Doestn't the nettels hurt you" I innocently asked. "I am used to it" was her smiling reply, "and their are good for your skin"
I followed her around all morning. Glued myself to her. I will never forget her.
This morning came back to me today when I bent down to weed the rose bed and saw all the fresh nettle sprouts. I picked a small bowl full and carried it inside the kitchen. I know I could use it for dinner. For the carrot stew I was planning (with salmon and potatos)
Carrot stew with nettles
Fry garlic, nettels, leek and chives in olive oil. Add butter and a couple of spoons og white flour. Add milk, a little at a trime to make the white sauce. Peel and slice the carrots. Add to the white sauce. Add salt and pepper. Let boil till the carrots are al dente soft.