My grandmother wore a wool undershirt year-round.
She made my grandfather wear one too. My father told me that he wore won on the beach as a child. My grandmother was obsessed with ‘protecting’ your body from the heat with warm clothing.
I suppose she was onto something if the Tuareg wear wool clothing in the desert.
Naturally the same rule was to be applied to food.
This is how my grandparents ate every day, and older people now (in Tuscany) are no different:
Breakfast: Toasted Bread and homemade Jam with Black Coffee
Lunch: Primo e Secondo con contorno. First and second course with side
Merenda (Snack ) Pane e Pomodoro (my favorite!) my Nonna would cut open a tomato and rub it on the bread, discard the hard part of the tomato, add salt and pepper and loads of olive oil. Enjoy!
Dinner: Soup and Fruit or cheese with fruit or ‘Pinzimonio‘ and fruit (Pinzimonio are raw vegetables that are dipped in olive oil)
I now appreciate my grandmother’s hard work. She cooked all day, every day, and in between meals I watched her hand wash clothes, clean, and iron piles of clothes and tablecloths and napkins on the kitchen table.
I remember her making us eat delicious minestrone in the evening while our little faces dripped with sweat.
Ti fa bene, it’s good for you, she would say. We never complained. We loved to eat and enjoyed being with her.
So, move forward to 2016 and I am no longer willing to eat boiling hot minestrone on a hot summer evening, nor am I willing to give up the comfort of air conditioning.
Which reminds me of my first year of college. I went to school in North Carolina. North Carolina’s summers are just as steamy as any Tuscan summer. I remember waking up in the middle of the night, my first week into freshman year, in the only not-yet-airconditioned dorm to find a lone gallon of whole milk in the refrigerator. No water. No other liquid other than whole milk. I guzzled the whole thing.
I present to you my chilled variation of Chilled Tuscan Minestrone.
Tomato water is very simple and so delicious.
Puree the Tomatoes with 3 tsp of Salt and one of chili flakes. Let rest for ten minutes. Strain. Then re-strain using a gauze.
- 2 lb tomatoes (the ripest you can find)
- 1 garlic clove
- 3 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup fresh beans
- 1/2 cup finely cubed zucchini
- 1/2 cup finely cubed carrot
- 1/2 cup string beans
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- 1/3 cup finely cubed celery
- 1 cup finely shredded napa cabbage
- Puree the tomatoes, add the salt and let rest for 10 minutes. Pass through a striner then re-strain using a gauze. You will have a delicious, clear tomato broth in less than 30 minutes. Refrigerate.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add salt. Boil each vegetable for no more than one minute. Cool each vegetable separately in ice filled bowls to preserve color.
- To assemble the soup, I placed the cabbage in the middle, then added the vegetables. I poured the broth last directly from the jar.
- I added a seeded chili flakes cut into very thin strips.
- I made an ultra light minestrone which is great as an appetizer. To make into a wholesome meal add a cooked whole grain, a pasta or potatoes. You can also add a tbs of pesto to each bowl!