Friday, January 30, 2009

The Giubiana 2009

...E sicome la stabilìss la legg quaranta dal voccént-sesantòtt
che dopo 'l procèss gh'è la lugànega e 'l risòtt,
la sentenza a la fin la pö vess pronunziada:
la Giubiana, stasira, ca la sia brusada!

...And since law 49 of year 1868 decretes
that after the process there is the sausage and the risotto,
the sentence at the end can be pronounced:
let the Giubiana, tonite, be burnt!
(From the Sentence of the Process to Giubiana)

The Giubiana and the executioner
Also this year, as in the last, we went to the folk event of the Giubiana of Canzo, that happens every year on the last Thursday of January.

They stage a process for an old witch (the Giubiana) who symbolizes the evils of the past year. But there won't be any surprise in the sentence: at the end the Giubiana will be judged guilty and so condemned to the stake.
The ceremony opens with the parade of some characters of popular alpine tradition that in procession, brings the old woman to the main square. Once there, the process is celebrated in strict local dialect (so strict that, although a Lombard since several generations, I have a hard time understanding).

Mr. Bentley
Particularly worth mentioning are the words of the first witness for the defense. She asserts that the charges (year by year the bad news: this year the economy, the high rated loans, the increase of unemployment, the wars in the Middle East...) are not, strictly speaking, to be imputed to the Giubiana like a scapegoat, but to ourselves, as constituted matter of this society in which all those evils generated.
The spirit of the event is to accept the past and restart with optimism. The stake of the Giubiana is in fact a propitiatory rite for the year just begun, in the awareness that we are the authors of our own destiny.

The words of the final wills, written by the Giubiana, and read by a loyal friend, the gossip lady of the village, threaten evils also for the next year, and represent the consciousness that it won't be for the propitiatory rite that our future will ever change. So, the stake is the symbol of our acceptance of destiny, but also the commitment to improve. The Giubiana in fact promises to rise just after the stake, to reappear, in one year, as the renewed sacrificial lamb.

After the process, Maddie was excited, but Mr. Bentley (much more shy) was frightened for the confusion and noise. "Fajah, let's go home please" he tells me with that baritone voice (Mister Bentley speaks in American English, often mixed with some Hawaiian Pidgin expressions).
So we preferred to forgo the burning at the stake and the typical risotto with sausage and vin brülé (hot spicey wine) and we went back home.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Eros Buratti and the art of preservation of milk

Upon exit from the shop and checking the receipt, R and i commented that the bill, after all, was less than what we expected, given the amount and quality of the purchases.
"Over here, it's well-spent!" whispered a girl with Indian or Pakistani features just moments before, with the knowing tone of one who probably

La Casera cheese shelf
is a regular customer of La Casera herself. She was responding to my witty jest that emphasized worry for an expensive bill, humor that i thought appropriate to the friendly climate of the shop.

Besides cheese and cured meats, the shop also has a little section for salt. While Eros, the storekeeper, passionately described to us the experience of tasting salt from various origins, i was thinking to the contradiction between the criteria of ecologic shopping and the purchase of a can of salt coming from Himalaya, rather than South Africa. But, come on! When will it ever happen again to be able to compare salt from Ibiza with the Hawaiian one? And so we added those two containers to our shopping bag.
I am quite ignorant in this matter. Up until now, to me salt was just salt. NaCl. It's not that sodium chloride could ever have different organoleptic peculiarities if it comes from South American mines instead of Sicilian saltworks. Eros told me that the differences in taste are not given by the chemical substance itself, but by its impurities that every kind of salt has.

Could be...
Anyway i was already fully satisfied by the more interesting subject of cheese. "Taste this last, please" goes Eros, handing me a teaspoon with some fresh goat cheese.
Delicious! so much that i asked him to add some of it to the basket. In the mean time R was involved by a woman (Eros' mother?) in buying an exquisite slice of Matera bread, displayed on a counter at the end of the shop.
Fortunately these last two purchases were made at the end, after a list of items that were already carefully prepared before, selecting from the products listed on La Casera's website. It's really difficult, in fact, to choose real-time among hundreds of available cheeses (mainly from Piedmont, but also from other Italian regions, and some foreign ones).

The fresh goat cheese, together with a slice of pecorino siciliano ai pistacchi di Bronte (a token gift for the large purchase) were the worthy completion of our shopping list that included three cow milk cheeses (Toma del Maccagn, Raschera semistagionata, Tella Alto Adige), one sheep (Canestrato di Castel del Monte) and one goat (Ubriaco al Traminer). Any choice we inquired about was followed by a qualified comment from Eros.
As a choice criterium we took into account the difficulty of being able to find those cheeses (a more famous pecorino di Pienza, for example, is easy to find also in the regular shopping centers).

"You're in the right place" answered Eros, amused, showing up from the back-shop when, to break the ice, right in front of the display shelves, i said "Goodmorning, by chance do you have cheese over here?"
A moment before, in front of the shop window, i dwelt upon the thought of the many surprising forms developed in the centuries of the need to preserve the milk nutritive properties.

Indeed we were really in the right place.

In the picture of the cheese plate, starting from the yellow one on the top, clockwise: Bagoss (cow milk, Lombardy), Ubriaco al Traminer (goat, Veneto), Canestrato di Castel del Monte - presidio SlowFood (sheep, Abruzzo), Pecorino siciliano DOP ai pistacchi di Bronte (sheep, Sicily), Toma del Maccagn - presidio SlowFood (cow, Piedmont), goat fresh cheese (Piedmont), Graukase (cow, Alto Adige), Vezzena - presidio SlowFood (cow, Trentino), Raschera semistagionata DOP (cow, Piedmont). In the center, Tella Alto Adige (cow).
Bagoss was bought in a grocery shop, Graukase and Vezzena at the Christmas markets in Merano (Trentino Alto Adige), the others are all from Eros' shop.

La Casera
Piazza Ranzoni, 19
28921 Verbania Intra