Reaching its fifteenth edition, MURABILIA or MURAINFIORE is confirmed as one of Italy’s most anticipated events for lovers of greenery, botanists, collectors of rare plants and for all lovers of the world of flowers. I
Anneliese Rabl x
Every year towards summer, a good portion of Tuscany’s meadows is covered with a plant with white flowers grouped in well-proportioned little umbrellas of medium size. It seems to be at home everywhere and, in fact, it has no problem being in in the shade, in the sun, or in very dry places. Indeed, the less they have of water and the hand of man (with his occasional weeding), the better they grow.
I did not know their name and, to tell the truth, I do not remember having seen them in northern Europe. They seemed to me truly like an umbrella, once the small white flowers had fallen and closed in the shape of a bird’s nest which, in turn, are inhabited by small red insects with black stripes (in Tuscany called “diavolini”) which decided to make these odd structures into their habitat. There they sleep, find shelter from the wind, and after having photographed them many times, I would say that they live as if in their very own love nest.
I had discovered the wild carrot, a spontaneous species from which came all the carrot varieties that are nowadays found in gardens and in food stores everywhere. Carrots of all types, white, purple, black, yellow, orange, elongated, squat, round, all have as a common ancestor this unexpected whitish root; ugly, but with a carrot scent so intense that no variety found for sale can match.
It can be argued that the carrot is a precious food for humanity, almost equal to wheat, rice, or potato, and still the recipes are surprisingly different. The imaginations of cooks seems never to end. While in the North, as far as I recall, they are usually served with peas in white sauce, in Tuscany they are preferred stewed or baked, always strictly with a bit of sugar as if to emphasize: if a vegetable is sweet, then let us help it to be even more so…!
Our mother company in Russia has been growing organic carrots for several years. Here at Farfalla di Toscana, we have no intention of growing, processing, or selling carrots. However we still want to know what is a tasty and typical way to serve them. The recipe of stewed carrots with raw Tuscan prosciutto, both salty and tasty, seems perfect. In place of prosciutto one can also use pancetta. Quick, simple, and truly exquisite!
Carrots with raw Tuscan prosciutto (serves 3)
400 gr. carrots
100 gr. raw Tuscan prosciutto
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Peel the carrots and cut into pieces of about five centimeters. Bring an abundant amount of water to a boil, add the carrots, and let them boil until they are soft. Remove from the water, allow to cool slightly, and wrap them in slices of the prosciutto. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the carrots, sprinkle with sugar, and cook for a few minites over medium temperature. When the prosciutto is crisp, remove from the pan and serve on a plate.
A curious and interesting thing to know: carrots are taproots, therefore the edible part of this vegetable is well protected underground, where it retains unchanged its rich nutritious value. This allows the roots to stay strong even in adverse climatic conditions, and to select for itself the best possible time to grow and reach the proper size to be harvested.
Last but not least. The ancients taught that carrot root, shredded to a pulp and spread on an insect bite, had a soothing effect. We are lucky. It is no longer necessary to carry a kitchen knife and a spade to access the carrot root when going for a walk. A small stick with ammonia, available at any pharmacy, can be carried in your pocket to solve this problem. Welcome twenty-first century!
Anneliese Rabl (translation John McAuliffe) x