Potluck Picnic

I still haven’t figured out how it gets organized, but every few days, there will be a potluck picnic at Corlo. Sometimes Selina will ring our bell, she is nine years old and breathtakingly, naturally beautiful. Sometimes we’ll be in the piazza, and Martina will call out to us to meet them in Corlo.
Claudio and Martina own a piece of property in the small borgo of Corlo, which is right below Montone. They have a ruin of a farmhouse, some gorgeous property and a huge vegetable garden. Corlo is a collection of a few houses, and a chapel; you need to watch out for chickens crossing the road, or that cat that sleeps in the middle of the road.
The mysterious part to me is how does everyone else know to show up? There wouldn’t be time to call everyone, or prepare food, but somehow we all show up there with something good to eat.
As we all show up, everyone troops over to the orto (vegetable garden) to see what’s going on. The zucchinis are thriving, the hedgehogs are eating the melons, the peas are finished, and the tomatoes are just coming along.  It reminds me of when I was little, and our father would take us out the garden for ‘adoration’.  It’s so satisfying to stand in a garden full of good things to eat, full of things that you have cared for.
The other night was a bit more formal than usual; we actually set up a long table with plates and silverware.  There was a plate of tongue with a green sauce, boiled potatoes, fried meatballs, braised rabbit, green salad, salami, a sharp cheese served with an addictive green tomato marmalade and a gigantic watermelon.
The boiled potatoes are a great picnic idea.  The potatoes are boiled with their skins on, then peeled and sliced and served with a green sauce of parsley, capers and olive oil. Really simple, and very tasty.
There was a very rowdy debate about how to carve a watermelon, and it reminded me of similar discussions about how to eat corn. Are you a typewriter eater, going across the row, or a roundabouter?  The Milanese way to cut a round watermelon is to cut off both ends, stand it straight up on end and precisely carve out a wedge. Claudio insisted the Roman way was to quickly whack off some pieces and eat the damn thing!
Then there was a jump rope exhibition, with everyone taking turns jumping or turning the rope. One of the sweetest moments came when Selina was jumping rope with her grandmother, Eva.  What would you give to jump rope with your grandmother right now? It was one of those crystal clear moments, when you see life at it’s finest.


  1. Eilen on July 2, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    I got a little teary reading this one, Judith. Thanks for the peek into your Italian life–and the photos are beautiful!

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