Ecco Maggio! Here’s May, a still-popular seventeenth-century song in Italy, celebrating the arrival of deep spring. But there’s Shakespeare’s counter in Sonnet 18:
“Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date.”
I’m with Shakespeare. In Tuscany, May is uncertain, never more so than this year when we’ve been drenched almost daily. It’s the “shake the darling buds” that concerns all the olive tree growers. Those downpours can whimsically turn to hail and dash the tiny emerging flowers that turn into olives. So far, we’ve been lucky this year, but every time the skies open, we’re wary until the skies clear and the birds start up their piercing songs and the clouds send shadows across the hills opposite us. A side note, we have violent thunder! It seems that the stones of the house must rearrange themselves when such storms strike.
The compensation? The hills could not be greener, the wildflowers—poppies!—more profligate, the scents of wet grasses more evocative of fertility and regrowth and hope. And the ginestra, saying giallo giallo giallo. Already bursting out, the catmint and tiny fleabane daisies. Mock orange throws out its scent to rival the lemon blossoms.
We’re settling in, after six months gone. Hello, scorpions. Is that a moth hole in my green sweater, what’s with the water pressure, are all the glasses covered with dust? We throw open the windows and doors at every sign of sun to dry out the house shut down any sign of winter.
After working in the garden for hours, we are cooking simple dinners. Last night, chicken soup with grilled cheese sandwiches. Not just any cheese, though, these delicate sandwiches were filled with pecorino with truffles and sautéed in you know what. Last week, we made them with prosciutto and gorgonzola. Tonight, it’s risotto all primavera made in the instant pot. Lucky we have such a stash of the greatest olive oil!
Naturally, the default is pasta and we’re enjoying cooking from Pasta Veloce. Best thing about publishing a cookbook is that you get to gather all your recipes in one place.