Salad greens fresh from the garden with local wine from Montepulciano.
When you think of Italian food, your mind likely drifts to pizza, spaghetti, cold cuts such as Proscuitto and Parma ham or cheeses like Pecorino or Mozzarella. And you wouldn’t be wrong. But I’m finding that the abundant fresh fruit and vegetables are just as much a part of the Tuscan daily life. Eating vegetables just picked from a garden is a luxury for Americans—but the norm for Tuscans.
A neighbor’s summer garden.
Massive round zucchinis grow in many backyards.
In every yard of field, you’ll find gorgeous, plentiful gardens.
Apricots dangle temptingly down a local wall.
And many of the fruit and nut trees, bushes and plants I photographed during a recent morning walk through our Tuscan village were found along the roadside or in ditches or over walls. It’s remarkable the sheer amount of fresh fruit and nuts that I found on a one hour stroll!
Fig trees like this grow along the roadside with plentiful fruit almost ready to be picked.
It seems that walnuts, almonds, apricots, figs, plums and artichokes (carciofis, my favorite!) grow like weeds in this area of the world.
Yummy plums along a dirt road.
A walnut dropped on the road from a plentiful, old tree.
Mysterious blue berries in a ditch near an abandoned field. They weren’t our blue berries, as we tasted them! Perhaps ripening black currants?
As we looped back around from town and through the surrounding fields, we then, of course, came across the staples of Tuscany: grapes from vineyards with champagne grapes, semolina wheat fields and olives.
Olives, almost ready for harvesting.
Semolina wheat field recently harvested.
Sinalunga champagne grapes
The local Tuscan olive oil company.
Posted in Cooking, Health/Wellbeing, Photography, Travel
Tagged cooking the Italian way, eating fresh, eating fresh from the garden, Fruit, fruit in Italy, gardening, healthy living, Italian cuisine, Mozzarella, Pecorino, photography, Prosciutto, raw foods, Toscana, Tuscan cooking, Tuscan gardens, tuscan landscape, Tuscany, United States, vegetables in italy
Queen Anne’s Lace
As some of you may know, my mother has Alzheimer’s disease. It’s such a crushing disease as it creeps into the mind of the person you love and robs them of the essence of who they are. Little by little it picks up speed, like a ball rolling down the hill, and all you can do is sit by, breathless, as you watch the person you love slip away. My mother is now in a facility more than 2,500 miles away and since I can’t see or talk with her, I’ve decided to write each day until Mother’s Day about her and the legacy she leaves behind for her four children. Anyone who knew MaryAnn Roe, knows how she lost herself and her worries when she gardened. I learned about wildflowers, such as Queen Anne’s Lace, and gardening, from my mother.
She inspired me to always make wonderful bouquets from the wildflowers, or any blossoms in our own garden. Orange nasturtiums were one of her favorites, and she marveled at how enormous they grew in California, as they couldn’t manage to expand in the heat and humidity in her North Carolina garden.
Even just two years ago, when her mind had slipped dramatically into the worsening phases of her disease, she would wander around and around her front and back yards weeding, picking up sticks, watering her plants and marveling at the butterflies and hummingbirds that would visit her butterfly bush. While she couldn’t utter how much peace her garden brought her, it was evident in her face and through her continued ability to somehow manage to take care of her cherished plants.
I loved her creativity when it came to her bouquets. In fact, mom gathered gardenia and magnolia blooms from our yard in North Carolina, put them in coolers, and transported them to Atlanta where I got married 12 years ago. On each table she created graceful, fragrant bouquets that no one knew were handmade touches from home.
Mother’s infectious love of gardening inspired me to visit every botanical garden in almost every city where I have lived or traveled to. I loved being able to take her to the Kew Gardens in London, the botanical gardens in Atlanta, Duke Gardens in Durham, the gardens at the Getty or sending her pictures from gardens in Lisbon, Madrid, Nice, Budapest or Kauai. (I will dig up pictures from those trips at some point!) I may never become a green thumb like mom, but I’m sure I’ll always think of her when I see a bouquet of wildflowers.
Posted in Health/Wellbeing, Parenting, Photography
Tagged Atlanta, botanical gardens, Budapest, butterfly bush, Duke Gardens, Garden, gardenia, gardening, homemade bouquets, Kauai, Kew Gardens London, Lisbon, magnolia, mother's day, nasturtium, nature photography, North Carolina, nosturtiums, photography, photos, queen anne's lace, wildflower bouquets, wildflowers