As you may know, the school year is drawing to an end – in the case of Marco’s school, this is celebrated in true Italian manner – yes, by going out to eat – twice!
First occasion last Saturday evening – the whole class goes to an agriturismo – a local farmhouse that also serves meals as a side line (in many cases this sideline is more profitable than the farm work!). The food is plain and simple, and you can’t get more local than this: Risotto agli asparagi as a starter, featuring the white Bassano asparagus. As seconds, a plate of polenta, a few slices of soppressa veneta (a large, rather fatty salame much beloved by the locals but mostly reviled elsewhere..) and fagioli in salsa (brown beans with an anchovy base condiment). A slice of crostata (jam tart) to finish. Large jugs of local plonk, both red and white. Well, I did say it was plain and simple, didn’t I? But on the whole, a suitable place, considering we had 19 kids running around screaming between courses!
Sunday – boiling hot today, but another end-of-year celebration beckons, this time at the school itself, with the whole body of parents, teachers and children present! The kids are entertained with games and amongst the hubbub, the kitchens are commandeered by willing parents and a barbecue is organised to feed the assembled masses (about 250 or so). As the evening draws on and the sun finally sets to general relief, tonnes of sausages, veal chops, and spare ribs are laid to cook on the griddle. No messing about here – the four chefs have a forbidding appearance and anyone proffering “advice” on the cooking is briskly shooed away. The dining room tables are all brought out on the playground and laid out with water and orange juice for the kids and plenty of jugs of vino for the parents.
Finally the meal is ready! Again, the cuisine is simple – what can be more so than a plateful of grilled meat, french fries and coleslaw? And a huge selection of home-made cakes and biscuits to follow! The atmosphere was lively and convivial, the wine and spumante flowed freely, and a great time was had by all!