An Italian Summer

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Every September in Monterubiaglio there is a celebration in honour of the Madonna. There is a small shrine at the edge of the village and I understand the event funds the upkeep and flowers for the forthcoming year.   This year I was thrilled to be asked to join in the deliberations over the menu and program of events for this special evening.  Unlike the annual ‘Village Feast’ – which has an emphasis on lost dishes of the past and is open to all – the Festa of the Madonna is a smaller and more intimate evening known only to the villagers.  Like many Italian feasts this one is no exception being bound in with religion and traditions.  I was struggling to understand the ins and outs of this ritual feast through my elementary Italian and kept pretty quiet, especially when the decision on the pasta sauce choice was fiercely debated and challenged by several of the group.  More than all of this though we had to hope for good weather as this summer has been a rather unusual one, with storms, thunder and grey skies being a feature and the ruined summer crops, poor olives and the state of the grapes taking central stage as a topic of conversation. We had to hope for a night without rain or lightening!

When the evening came, thankfully so did the sun, and  following the procession and mass, this popular feast was celebrated with locally made cured meats and crostini, penne pasta with spicy arrabiata sauce,  Roasted Pork in Rosemary Olive oil and salt, and roasted potatoes followed by and assortment of biscuits and Vin Santo.  That’s where I came in.  I made a few hundred ‘English Biscuits’ to add to the cantucci.   The Chocolate Chip Cookies and Lemon and Lavender Fork biscuits seemed to go down well.  I loved being involved and have met lots of new friends.