Going South #4 - Supermarket and politics
One of my favorite activities when visiting Lamezia Terme is going to the local supermarket and see what's new. Italy is so big, and the differences between regions are so evident, that visiting a supermarket in Lamezia Terme would be a different experience from visiting one in Lago di Garda in the north, for example. Of course, this is the case for the small grocery, but I refer also to the big ones.
This session at the supermarket wasn't disappointing as well.
Go straight to the fruit and vegetable section. Here you meet Italy in its proudest moment. Don't dream of getting what's out of season. If you do so - you're disqualified. Or identified as a tourist, which is even worse. The peak of Summer gave us feast-size peaches and young-infant size watermelons, yellow melons ("Canary melons") and Merendelle, a peach that you cannot find anywhere else but in Calabria. It's green or pink, according to the month it's picked, it's soft, and it's juicy. A summer's capsule.
It’s a South Italian supermarket, so it's a lot about pork here: a tiny stand of "Everything for the Pork", a Prosciutto holder named Morsa - for the times you buy a whole Prosciutto, as you probably do, the typical 'Nduja spreadable spicy-and-spicier sausage in 3 kg packs, and a 500 gr./cc. a container of Strutto, which is pure pork fat.
Healthy (and Kosher).
It's an Italian supermarket, so here you can have also a pasta whose pack designed by Dolce & Gabbana, and one of the best wine bottle designs I've ever seen, if not the best one. We tried the white wine, and the bottle is attractive as well. How it tastes? The bottle is attractive as well.
We were smart enough to have only light lunch that day since the main attraction was a family dinner at the tiny-to-almost-invisible village of San Pietro Lametino. You've read and watched descriptions of such roads to countryside family houses since forever, so I won't repeat how it turned narrower and narrower, and smell had changed next to every piece of land we passed by. From spicy pine to fresh fragrant oranges and mandarins, anxiously waiting for the winter to come.
Upon arriving at the lawn in front of the house we were welcomed by dry bubbly Prosecco, middle-aged ricotta and spicy sausage from the next village. We brought with us saffron riceballs that V.'s mother fried earlier that afternoon, and joined the red'n'white tableclothed table.
I'm the first to admit that the scenery, co-scened by colorful sunset, was at a hair's breadth from being a cliché, but I also admit that I wouldn't change it for anything.
Yes, it's another cliché.
Inside the house, it was as familiar as on the outside. Starting with the local variety on "priest-chokers", professionally homemade by Marco, V.'s cousin. Here it's called Strangugli or Strangugliapreviti, and being even more specific - Fileja. It's thick and humble pasta, made only with flour and water, and it must be so in order to carry heavy and nutritious sauces you will find in poorer areas.
Together with the saffron riceballs, we brought also bright-colored peeled'n'grilled© bell peppers, one of my three favorite chores in the kitchen (for real!), that went very well with the parmigiana, same as lasagna but with eggplants layers instead of pasta. Oh, the parmigiana! Probably the homiest Italian plate of them all.
And then politics was served.
That evening featured the peak of Italy's last - for sure not the least - political crisis, and temper around the table was at its highest. There wasn't any fighting between two political sides. Even worse! It's a well-known fact that the fiercest discussions take place between companions, and that wasn't an exception. For almost an hour there were harsh agreements, energetic nodding, and a joint sense from all sides that things look bad.
Well then, there wasn't a better way to call for a truce - between people that generally agree with each other, yes? - than with desserts. Another Calabrian star comes from the coastal town of Pizzo and is called Tartufo, which literally means truffle, but in that case is a cold dark chocolaty heart wrapped in sweeter chocolate and covered with chocolate, obviously. There was also a pistachio version for this delight, but c'mon, you know me already.
It was already quite late when we said goodbye to our hosts. Twenty minutes later, after a long session of goodbyes, hugs and kisses according to tradition in Calabria, we actually went on our way. The car took us back from the countryside to the city, driving through scents of mandarins, oranges and pines.
No, it wasn't the last family dinner…
Previously, on Going South: