The culture yeast and the blessed bread

panello«The earth is full of crap, and nature rebelled. We need to return to the old systems of work, in the sense that in the land we should have a new mentality, rather with respect than once». When we meet in the cellar, on time my friends - sucking greasy fingers after having bitten the last 'mbrugliatiello of rabbit - they want to convince me that “we must not give up”.

They repeat toasting. They are not naive. They are outraged, but keep it all themselves. Suspicious, they view with suspicion new outrages, to lobby lurking that prey ideas, they rotate the machete to grab the slices of landscape. A landscape that, meanwhile, sending out a distress. The last time, at the table, in a mixed table, including women, men, we fought the scagliuozzi  of red flour: were evocative tastes.There was an atmosphere to tell us, there are men and women who still climb between the chips and the terraces supported by parracine , with scissors for pruning; and going down from puoje, the southern hills, embankments that modulate the slopes with their clay and grass mass, not propped up by the cantoni. Here they are, my friends, are not old. And if the age is already ahead, however, they have not aged prematurely. They caress the catene  dug with the lightness of who knows how to love fertility, such as generating all good. «This property is not a rumor», they insist. It cannot be reduced to greed - to which (great) mustachioed writer Giovanni Verga oozed out romance blood of the so-called Verismo - enough to become a terrible habit: «They married in the family, among blood relatives, not to divide the property, not to share it, disperse it among unwanted heirs».

We stare into the eyes, between friends. This happened at a time, not only in Ischia, is fairly close. It was a time of storms, testimonies and wills. «is no longer the case», repeat those who share with me the idea that we’re living another time.The ancient time of modernityOn December 31, 2009, that time has stood still on the Serrara hills, supervised by Epomeo with its boulders scattered in the balance. I met it before noon, this time different but very modern. Or so it seemed to me, because the sun had not yet taken possession of any look. Mine and of Angelo, indeed Don Angelo Iacono, the priest ... waiting for me for weeks.To have an appointment I slipped into an alley that leads to slanting plains of the mountain. They are the shoulder, to the west, the wedge of Kalimera village, including small settlements that dominate coastlines from Sant’Angelo to Maronti, in a succession of glimpses, secular stratification and scents of aromatic and medicinal herbs that, from there, never moved. I am sure.

This is where lives the Time of a different life, which challenges struck days from the noise of the brute history. I told off, that morning, the inner countdown calendar. Of course, the fact that I received heartfelt invitation to rediscover the deep emotions in nature sanctified by the islanders, in the last day of the year, a few drops of alienation was over eyes. But it was like a wet euphoria on edge.From that day I memorized the appeal not to forget the high origins of sheep farmers and vintners; and wheat farmers of ‘Carusella’ which, thanks to the ears with a little hairless tuft, therefore caruso, reinsert the island’s food adventures in the large hemisphere of crossroads and meetings of yore. That grain has landed - right: who knows when? - on the island, and in all probability was from the Old Cilento, in Salerno, which is a separate area, from the inner side that borders on coastal platforms of Acciaroli up to Pioppi, which is the village where the notorious ally-American doctor Ancel Keys invented the Mediterranean Diet, in the postwar period. They are interesting coincidences.And here, in Serrara, I bent to the will of the bow gatherers to a chicory, chard or one that you eat with your eyes, as it is beautiful; not far from the ears of corn, a true corn even touched by the murmurs of a possible pilot mutation.I slipped into a focus of resistance to the obscene transformations, of a modernity out of place. And though the suggestively rarefied and suspensed dimension greeted the arrival of the new year.

Of all the new year hat are thousands of miles away from the whirlwind of New Year’s reveler and tourism.That greeting was given to the most authentic food, symbolic and concrete: the bread. A bread kneaded with yeast - criscito - which is preserved and handed down for generations, in the same place and by the same hands.Pierina Iacono - was 76 years when I met her - she is not married, and lives with her brother Angelo, five years younger, pastor of the church of Ciglio. Both received from their mother Lucia - who lived until the age of 97 – that special yeast. And they continue to work it, to turn it into loaves, to bake it. Always with the same ritual.«I woke up at five in the morning explained to me Pierina - and I prepared the dough with flour of maize roken, which I cultivate, and wild fennel picked in inaccessible areas. Then I worked on the forms and put them to rest in the wooden mattera .

I warmed the old oven with pennicilli, or with dried branches of the vines. Before the batch, I made pizza with garlic, oregano, all of our production, and the honey mushrooms grown near a garden. I put them aside with the oil and chilli».Pizza? Unique. Extraordinary.«I do everything by myself, like the ancient anticorium», said Pierina, with a Latin joke but still gives incredible strength to the story.After a few hours, bread was ready. «I realize that is now cooked, tapping the door of the oven, made from a piece of attic in lapillo».Golden, magnificent, loaves. «You can keep them in the pantry quietly for four weeks», whispered Don Angelo, as if she were confessing. In front of a piece of blessed bread, or almost.«Have you soaked this bread, in wine? », urged Pierina.Frames from the past but futuristic. I believe it. «All this is bound to end», recalled Don Angelo with a smile. But Pierina would not listen. Then as now. While, in the hot oven, shoves suddenly a lot of hazelnuts. A snack to munch on, toasting to the future.

 

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Info on Ischia island

  • Surface: 46 Kmq
  • Hight: 789 mt
  • Lat.: 40° 44',82 N
  • Long.: 13° 56',58 E
  • Periplus: 18 miglia
  • Coasts: 51.2 Km
  • Cities: 6
  • Inhabitants: 58.029

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