I feel very lucky to live in a place where I can enjoy the sequence of the seasons. Sounds always so strange to me when I meet people who say, ‘I wish I could live in place where it’s always summer’. I love the summer, the sun, the beach and being barefoot, but I couldn’t live like this all the time. I love every season, and a big part of is because of food.
Fall is a gorgeous season. Especially here in Eugene where you can see all the trees changing color from green to warm yellows and reds. During fall there are beautiful sunny days but the air is crisp and nature all around is slowly getting ready for winter. Fall for me means roasting chestnuts on the fire and drinking new wine. Walking in the woods, finding mushroom but never picking them because I’m afraid that they will be poisonous, so buying them at the grocery store, smelling that earthy fragrance and combining them with rustic pappardelle. Fall is also the only time of the year where you can find chestnut flour at the supermarket in Tuscany and so make Castagnaccio which is a very traditional cake made with chestnut flour, water, olive oil, rosemary, raisins and pine nuts. Another memory of my childhood is savoring Fave dei Morti, a tiny cookie made with almonds that you can find in the Umbrian bakery only during the first days of November for celebrating the Day of the Dead.
And at some point you walk in the grocery store and find persimmons, which to me means, “winter is here.” And with them all the delicious mandarins and oranges and the cinnamon and dates and all the Christmas cakes. And then February arrives and my mother ‘s kitchen smelled of Cenci, literally ‘rugs’, delicious fried dough topped with sugar, and my favorite: Frittelle di riso, rice fritters.
It’s always funny when I talk about the relationship between food and the seasons with my husband. He always smiles at me. He doesn’t make fun of me but these reflections don’t resonate to him. It’s simply not part of his culture. For me it’s something that is so part of my identity; I can’t eat oranges during summer or watermelon during Christmas, or cook Porcini mushrooms in July, or sipping hot chocolate on the beach in August. It just feels wrong. And that’s because food is an expression of nature and its changing state.
Moving to Eugene and settling in has been and still is a journey into who I am. For the first time in my life I’m pushing the ‘pause’ button. I’m not jumping from one job to another and it’s really the first time in my life where there is space for creativity and for being who I am instead of rushing into a busy routine. When we think about who we are, about our core values and how we can live in a way that truly reflects who we are, we start digging into our past. I need the whole picture to express my identity, and it’s through food we are the expression of our territory and the different seasons as they pass.
I once read this blog post and it really moved me(I translated from italian : https://tiasmo.wordpress.com/2015/11/30/dietro-a-una-grande-donna-ce-unadolescenza-di-merda/). It said, ‘ Behind a great woman there are endless winters. Years are counted in springs, but maturity is measured in winters. And you learn from trees, they seem crazy because they undress when it’s cold, but no, they abandon the unnecessary, they become objects and they wait. And we learn from hedgehogs that curl themselves and all the spines go out, not inside. We learn that lethargy is not allergy to winter, we learn hibernation, as a pause full of life and melancholy. Behind a great woman there are women who accept growth, with the load of pain, suffering and beauty, on their shoulders.’