a life creative
The weather has shifted in Santa Fiora, suddenly, after a lengthy, very hot summer and some autumnal false starts.
Driving out of the rain and wind on our way to Grosseto yesterday morning, we looked back toward Monte Amiata and it was completely enveloped in cloud, while we were blinking the sun out of our eyes in a climate 5C warmer. The sunlight is different – much sharper, now – and there is no mistaking that we find ourselves in autunno…
…and this means chestnuts and porcini!
There are three varieties of chestnuts that grow in the Monte Amiata area, and the region is a protected zone for chestnut trees, with stringent regulations in place for commercial harvesting. Chestnuts have always been important to this area, as they were often the staple food for its inhabitants post WWII – in fact, they are a bit of a superfood, being high in dietary fibre, protein, vitamin B-complex and C, and contain monounsaturated fats that are good for people minding their cholesterol. And they go pretty well with a glass of red, too.
I look forward to sampling a number of chestnut recipes at next weekend’s La Castagna in Fiesta in Arcidosso, and the the following weekend in Santa Fiora (the last weekend in October) is the Sagra del Marrone Santafiorese.
As for i funghi…I have consumed my weight in Porcini these last couple of weeks. I have only ever cooked with and eaten the dried version, and it’s a treat to have the wild variety growing very close by. However, wild mushrooms are something that I’ve never had confidence in collecting, and after visiting the comprehensive funghi display Sagra del Fungo at Bagnolo, my confidence has not been elevated.
There were hundred of varieties on display, and many are of the very pretty but slow-painful-death kind, the kind that often masquerade as the table variety, with perhaps a slight difference in the space between gills, or how the scales on the cap flake off…
No, thank you, we’ll leave that completely in the hands of the experts and stick with a bowl of chestnuts.
Writer | Artist
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