Everyone has given their all, and it is now a waiting game.
Who will win the Palio this year?
Del Monte presented their theatrical piece, “Della Gloria Ritrovata” last night. Set up in our ancient “Rocca”, we were led through the stages of Carlo Fortebracci’s life from a young boy, realizing the full weight of responsibility that comes with being a Fortebraccio, fighting the battles, until he triumphantly receives the Holy Thorn as a reward for his valiant service.
As usual, small bands of people clustered in the piazza to discuss the merits of del Monte’s piece versus the other riones. As usual, there is an under current that the judges don’t share the same aesthetic appreciation as the towns people. As usual, the outcome is tensely debated, tinged with hope and shaded with fatalism.
Meanwhile, we cook and we serve in the taverna. Last night we had grilled pecora (sheep) and it was outstanding. The pecora was stacked in layers separated by slices of lemon and rosemary, then grilled over wood charcoal. The delicious smell and thick smoke filling the air with the essence of Umbria.
The grill man must possess super powers. We’re in the midst of another heat wave, so the temperature at around 6:00pm was probably around 32C or 90F. There was a raging wood fire in the grill, making the charcoal for cooking the meat. When I walked over to take these photos the heat literally sucked the air out of my lungs. It was staggering. How did this man stand at the grill all night? Super powers. It’s the only explanation.
Not that inside the kitchen was much better, but mere humans were able to remain standing as we turned out more grilled sausages and pork, mountains of antipasti, and warm torta (a flat bread sandwich with prosciutto or sausage).
A surprise best seller, or at least to me, was the hot grain soup. Who wants hot soup when it’s 90 degrees out? Apparently a lot of people.
I was in charge of tagliatelle bosciaolo, or tagliatelle with a creamy mushroom and sausage sauce.
The home made cakes were outstanding, served along with a little sweet Vin Santo wine for dunking.
This is very good, down home cooking! I have no idea how you would translate down home into Italian, but that’s what it is. Cucina della casa doesn’t have the same ring.
And to keep us all lubricated, Jeff and John ran the cantina dispensing water, wine and vin Santo. And I must say, they both looked fetching in the their little medieval server-boy outfits.
Tonight will be a hard night in the kitchen because the winner of the Palio will be announced around 10:00pm. If we lose, there will be deep mourning at the taverna. If we win, there will be loud partying from the taverna stretching into the piazza..all… night…. long. Either way, the taverna provides and Dionysus we abide.
(Could Dionysus be the original Dude?)
And so it goes, life in Montone in Agosto.