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Sun dried Tomatoes

Tomato Passata sauce, part 1

Tomato Passata sauce, part 2

At a Snail’s pace





Last weekend Orvieto  hosted a big event called “OFF” (Orvieto Food Festival ). It was advertised everywhere, even in the Vanity Far and Style Magazine! The idea was for Orvieto to show to as many people as possible all the good food and wine that is produced here. Along with tours, wine tasting and lots of other activities there was also an organized  cooking class where you could learn how to cook a typical dish from Orvieto named  Lumachelle. The “Lumachella” (meaning LITTLE SNAIL) is soon to be launched as a new Slow Food Presidium for the town of Orvieto. It is made with a simple pizza dough but enriched inside with : pancetta, ham and cheese. Simple yes ? NO , not simple at ALL, and I can tell you this from experience as  one of the people who had been asked to teach 37 participants of the cooking class .. …Me ,originally a Roman and a person that has never made Lumachella in her life. The second teacher was Valentina, a local lady who grew up eating Lumachelle,and now she is the owner of a fantastic restaurant here in Orvieto , called Saltapicchio. But thats not the end of the horror story…………  the cooking class was also to include a competition for the best Lumachella locally made. Those to take part in the competition were Valentina , myself, plus 6 of the most famous bakers of Orvieto. Mamma mia, PANIC was not the right word to describe how I felt……….pure TERROR will give you a better idea of my feelings….

So very quietly and slowly ,you might even say at a snail’s pace ,  I decided to spend the whole week before the event doing intense research .The best course of action in this research would be for me to consult the elder ladies from Allerona , the sweet medieval village that adopted  Nick and I  twelve years ago. So I started by asking around for the Lumachelle recipe but every one of them had a different little secret ingredient to put in it (lard or sausages , two types of cheese, olive oil ….Mamma mia I was going crazy). Ok, I thought it cannot be so complicated,  I can do it,  I have to do it. So after baking some experimental Lumachelles  I took them to Teresa for her opinion (Teresa is one of the best Lumachelle making in the Village). “They are very tasty, buone buone” she tells me “ look at my little nephews “ she said ” look at their happy faces , they are really enjoying them. ” But then …..while I`m almost in tears with relief and pride she picks up the phone and calls an old friend from the village (also a super expert ).” Ciao Maria “she says down the phone ” I’m here with Simona, she`s made some  Lumachelle.. … Oh yes very tasty and good,  but they are as hard as rock !”  My five minutes of success shot down in flames, it was back to the drawing board . Then on Saturday morning I decided to make my fourth attempt and I went  to see Elena (the villagers say she has god’s hands for making Lumahelle ) to prise the secret of her success out of her, and you know what, bless her, at 8 pm I arrived home with  almost a hundred Lumachelle , all good, crispy and tasty. The secret had been  passed on to me. I was so happy. The next morning I felt so much calmer after receiving so much help from Teresa and Elena and I  felt full of courage and confidence to meet my class. Dare I say even almost ready to deal with the terrifying competition.

Well , the lumachelle cooking class in Orvieto was a great success , people had a lot of fun and to be honest I had to tell them about my weeks experiences . As for the competition , I am proud to say that  my Lumachella came third in the finals , and so its with all my heart I want to thank the Allerona ladies for being so helpful and sweet with me. They  opened their homes to me and shared their culinary secrets. But I must also give special thanks to Teresa and Elena for not only giving me their time and passing on their expertise, they even phoned me immediately after the cooking class to know how everything went. As for Nicks part, he only has ninety five Lumachelle left to eat!

This is what living in a small community is all about and we love being part of it. Once again thank you all.

4 comments to At a Snail’s pace

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