I was in the kitchen and I discerned the thud of a soft tread of footsteps running down the stairs past my window. Not having heard the wrought iron gate clank on opening, I was sure it would be someone familiar with the house. As I pulled the ancient front door open, a bundle of leaves appeared round the corner of the stone wall and our gardener followed them to the landing. He was holding a big bunch of orange blossom. “I’ve just been pruning the neighbours trees” he said, “and I thought ‘La Signora’(me) might like them.”
This was not the first time we’d been offered an unexpected gift from him. Often I’d get phone calls saying to send my son up to the Grotta di Fornillo to pick up something he’d freshly picked from his garden in Montepertuso. He’d arrive at the Grotta on his Vespa, with a big box or large bag of tomatoes, strings of onions, peppers, white eggplants and entire plants of basil all tucked between his legs.
For in Positano and probably in Italy in general, one of the most appreciated and loving gifts involves home grown, home bottled or (in Positano’s case) freshly fished food.
Over the years, fresh local fish like tontani or palamito (great with pasta); local artisanal panettone and home-baked cakes; crisp string beans; colourful fresh borlotti beans; sweet peppers; homemade limoncello and other liquors; the most tender home bottled tuna and mixed giardiniera; jams; fresh eggs and delicious dried figs stuffed with chocolate and walnuts then soaked in sherry have also featured frequently in offerings from other locals.
I’ve even received handmade Positano soaps from Saponissmo made from local ingredients. And I’m sure I’ve left things out.
There is a whole nurturing relationship between Italians and their food. It has to be locally produced and the simplest to present at the table. Zero miles to get from the garden to the plate. Prepared lovingly, each meal is savoured, discussed and complimented, with suggestions for later preparations and improvements. It’s no wonder that this exchange of homemade or home grown gifts is so appreciated in Italy and that Italian hospitality almost always involves a meal, or coffee with a food offering.
My Italian grandmother used to say ‘mangia, mangia!’to me every night at the dinner table, and when an Italian to tells you to eat, they mean it as a gift of love.
So I thank you Positano, for your generous gifts of welcome to this beautiful town. And prego, have some oranges!
This post is part of the Italy Blogging Roundtable’s invitation to post on this topic.
Thank you for inviting me.