For all that I avoid shopping at supermarkets as much as I can, I have to admit that I nearly always end up shopping at those food shops that are within walking distance of somewhere to to park — and that’s because, like most women I know, I am very often in a rush. When I do manage to organise myself better, I sally forth from where we live dragging my shopping trolley behind me with all the enthusiasm of a scout, eager for adventure and discovery, happy to tick off all the items on my list with that wonderfully uplifting word “done”. Such a sense of achievement.
People may not realise it but there is much more than meets the culinary eye when it comes to a good, home-cooked meal. It is built upon a good grasp of logistics, well thought out planning and an almost military-like discipline when it comes to execution. I must say, very immodestly at that, that I am very good at the planning part but have to confess to a weakness in the sloth department when it comes to execution. Hence the rushing about at the last minute to buy food for supper, anxiously on the look-out for somewhere to park.
So you can imagine my boundless joy when a farmers’ market opened a few months ago, which was not only within driving distance but also afforded plenty of parking – the Ariccia Farmers Market! It may sound of little consequence to the reader but that the fact that I can now go about buying wonderful food at a leisurely pace on a Sunday is sheer bliss for me in terms of the above-mentioned ‘execution’. It has taken a considerable strain of stress out of my food shopping life.
Markets and the vivacious wares that Nature puts on display for us through them have that ineffable quality of imbuing ‘awareness’ into us. I wouldn’t go as far as Audrey Hepburn in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” when, à propos of Tiffany’s, she says that nothing bad could ever happen to one there. Yet, there is something about a food market that makes us more aware of life beating within us. Last Sunday, I came away wondering whether farmers market also contribute towards bringing out the more generous side of human nature.
The Consorzio Agroalimentare Filiera Corta had heralded that last Sunday was going to be Polenta Day … and so I was looking forward to having lunch at the farmers market, as well as buying my veggies and meat and bread and flowers. The atmosphere was relaxed and lively at the same time, and I was basking the loveliness of it all as I stood in the queue with my husband.
The meat for the polenta sauce came from “Le Mucche di Luciana” …
Here is my plate of polenta, with a rich meat sauce, sprinkled over with freshly grated pecorino cheese …. and served with ‘broccoletti’. I had never had broccoletti with polenta before and what can I say … it was all truly delicious! The texture of the polenta was superb … nothing ‘mushy’ about it at all. The sauce was succulent without being overpowering. I heard a lot of people murmuring ‘mmmmm’ of great enjoyment.
Mr Renzo Abbafati himself … suitably satisfied and proud of this achievement. He was also making the rounds, offering glasses of his red wine.
The Polenta event was a great success and I subsequently found out that they had served something like 200 polenta dishes.
The first thing that surprised me, although not in chronological order, was that the polenta dish was being handed out free. I had naturally expected to be paying even a small amount for it but no … it was on the house. The second surprise was the taste: I am not exaggerating, the polenta was one of the best I’ve ever eaten.
What didn’t surprise me was the look of fun and satisfaction on the faces of everyone involved in the polenta making and serving. Generosity generates a feeling that even money can’t buy – for those who are giving just as much as for those who are receiving.
P.S. It would appear that the mayor of Ariccia, Mr Cianfanelli, is so impressed with the enthusiastic response to the Farmers Market on the outskirts of his town, that he is working to arrange for it to be located in the midst of his town too, in Ariccia’s historical centre.
And yes … there will be parking too. Very swanky parking with a lift/elevator all the way up to the centre.