Permaculture in Action

Monday, January 12, 2015

Slow Food

One of the things I learned in Italy (did I tell you we went to Italy last year?) was how to prepare and enjoy simple food. We stayed for  a week with an exWWOOFer in Laverno, just south of Pisa. This is in Tuscany, where the climate is so very similar to ours, here in the Hunter. They grow olives, grapes, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumber and everything else that grows well here. But, unlike us they grow food everywhere. Looking out of a train window allowed us to see the lengths people will go to to grow themselves food. Small allotments, including a shed to stay in over the weekend, are prolific in Tuscany. They are all along the tracks, in small odd shaped areas between the tracks and a road and invariably have olives, kiwi fruit and grapes growing. Tuscany is renowned for it's olive oil. Some of the allotments are tiny, some are around an acre. Italians love their food. But not the highly processed, fast food that is so prevalent here in Australia. No, Italians love fresh seasonal,local produce.The only fast food outlets I saw were at railway stations and airports! I only saw one large shopping centre. There are mini markets in the cities but mainly people shop at markets that are set up within the city that change daily depending on vendor availability. All sorts of produce can be found at these markets along with clothing, furnishings, and bric a brac. There is bread, cheeses, fresh seafood, and fruit and vegies. Here's a little three wheeler van selling produce in Turin.

and a market in Venice...

Here's another market in Venice, floating this time..

I loved that I could walk to the markets everyday and buy anything I needed from an open air market. And I loved that I could go to a cafe and have an espresso and freshly baked pastry or a glass of wine or beer. I loved that I could go to the drinks cabinet in a cafe and take out a beer from alongside the fizzy drinks. I loved that we would be given some nibblies to have with our beer or wine, free of charge.

 I loved that we could sit and play cards at the cafe while we drank our beer. (notice the cards don't have any numbers...very tricky!)

And when we got back to Elizabetta's (wwoofer) she knew that we would have been indulging with the local food and wine and she would say that we were going on a diet that night and would serve us up lightly steamed fresh vegies with a liberal amount of olive oil.

Elizabetta showed us how much food meant to the Italians. It was all about choosing fresh local food, cooking it simply, with friends, a glass of beer close at hand, and savouring it, seated around a simply, but beautifully set table. Eating slowly with a glass of wine, talking and laughing. One night, after a day in Florence, with came home and found a friend of Elizabetta's was in her kitchen preparing some food for us. He had a fresh salad, to be eaten first. Followed by some lightly steamed vegies. As our contribution Elizabetta showed us how to make a simple pasta dish with broccoli, which had just come into season over there (Autumn). Start cooking the pasta and in the last 5 mins drop in broccoli. While that's cooking fry up garlic and onion in a lot of olive oil. Combine with cooked pasta and broccoli. Add more olive oil and serve. One of the most delicious meals ever. Simple and fast.  Elizabetta said to use whatever seasonal produce is available for this dish so that's what I did for dinner last night. Overwhelmed with the amount of zucchini, beans and tomatoe we have at the moment I wanted to use up a lot of them. With some of the garlic and onion we have hanging on the verandah drying ....

and some of the excesses from the garden....

I made up a very simple pasta dish reminiscent of the broccoli pasta from Italy. I fried the onion and garlic, then added zucchini, and beans and lastly tomatoes. Serve with pasta with lots of olive oil and parmesan cheese. Delicious!!

There is lots we can learn from the Italians.


  1. I think you experienced my lifetime dream. My boss says that if i work for him for 20 years he will buy my ticket. I want to live with the locals, eat and laugh and drink with abandon (tricky since in real life im allergic to alcohol). My dream trip will take at least 6 months (what happened to my family?) and i wont leave the Tuscan area. "Under the Tuscan Sun" and the following books by Frances have a lot to answer for.

  2. Sounds like a wonderful trip and special memories. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane

  3. Loved this post , Kate. Oh I so want to go to Italy now, that is my kind of food!!

  4. Oh yeah, I'm with Kim - I wanna go too!!! What a great post with so many interesting tales of food! Thanks so much for the virtual tour, Kate!