text and images britt-arnhild
Two years ago I spent a week on an old farm in Tuscany, Santa Maria. There I found silence, beauty, hills for hiking, mist, a church for prayers, new friends......and a kitchen where food were made. Old traditional farmer´s meals.
A few of the days I was allowed to prepare the food, and one day I said to Thomas, the master of the farm; "Listen Thomas, if you ever need a cook for one of your Santa Maria retreats, why not ask me?"
Thomas looked at me, seriously, and replied:"Why should I ask you? On these hills there are more Tuscan housewives that I can count. I can ask any one of them!"
Why ask me?
The day I left, a retreat with stone mason artists from Belgium was about to start. Right after breakfast a woman came up from Sicilia. She would be the cook for the artists. I was not to leave until the afternoon, and for hours I followed the Sicilian´s every step. Licking up every drop of cooking inspiration I could find.
Asking her a million questions.
Her patience was like a Tuscan garden. Fertile, bountiful, without borders.
Unfortunately I was too busy following her around, asking question, there was no time to write her answers down.
Still, my heart will remember.
In the soup she started in the morning, and left on the stove to simmer for hours, she put handfulls of nettels. Picking them all without gloves.
Me: "How do you manage? Doesn´t it burn your fingers?"
She: "It burns, but it is healing for arthritis"
Now I have tried it myself.
And I´ve found that she is right.
It is healing for arthritis.
The first nettles are up in The Blue Garden.
We are expecting friends for dinner tonight.
As a starter I plan to make them nettle soup.