After two cold and wet Midlands summer days, I was pretty sure we wouldn’t be lunching under the trees as I had planned. It was a little brighter, but the chill around my ankles as I wandered around my vegetable garden, decided a slightly warmer menu was required. Fortunately at this time of year herbs and greens are abundant, so I filled my basket with marjoram, mint, celery, chard, parsley, amaranthus and pumpkin leaves and planned to make “weed soup” for our Terra Madre Day Celebration.
Terra Madre day is an initiative of The Slow Food movement who promote good, clean fair food. All around the world, communities gathered to celebrate eating local food – sustainable, diverse and delicious. Passionate about preserving food traditions and diversity of seeds, animals, food production methods, Slow Food president Carlo Petrini is a real inspiration. I was very excited to receive a pack of Terra Madre Day badges and a lovely banner to put up on my gate to welcome guests. This was an opportunity to share and show off the wonderful produce of the Dargle (see http://www.darglelocalliving.wordpress.com).
Rose arrived with a basket of just-picked plums and Sharon brought an enormous bowl of raspberries which matched her red dress. Gill contributed warm, freshly baked artisan loaves and Bridget a bunch of spinach to add to the soup. Ann had been scouring the Midlands for locally produced alcohol and found a bottle of Fruition Mead made in Balgowan.
Fortunately, we were able to sit on the verandah while we sipped home-made elderflower cordial and some lovely sparkling wine. I hadn’t tried too hard to get local wines for our meal as I had some birthday gifts which needed to be drunk. The Villiera Methode Cap Classique Brut Natural 2008 was delicious – crisp and creamy with an ‘exuberant sparkle’. We nibbled raspberries with it.
As luck would have it, just as the platter of artichokes arrived the rain began and we hurried inside. This season has been fantastic for artichokes, they are almost over and I harvested the last ones for our meal. We dipped them in lemon butter (handmade by Gilly Robartes’ from along the road) and Malvina van Bremen’s duck egg mayonnaise (along the road in the other direction). Gill broke open a loaf and we mopped up the juices and licked our fingers until all that was left was a pile of chewed leaves.
I call the dish ‘weed soup’ because I really enjoy adding all sorts of wild and wonderful greens to it, but it is based on an Italian classic, Ribollita d’estiva. It is fragrant, fresh and full of flavour, a real celebration of summer abundance. I used yellow cannellini type beans harvested last season. There was hand pounded parsley and pecan nut pesto to add or just scoop onto bread. Sharon was the cheese maker in our midst and we enjoyed slices of her handmade mozzarella and feta baked with dried oregano too.
Rose had created a delicious desert of plums and oranges from the orchard on Windrush which we ate with dollops of Wana Farm yoghurt and cream. The honey mead (the oldest recorded fermented beverage) was a perfect accompaniment.
Across the globe, almost 200 000 people in 120 countries participated in 1150 events. In Africa there were 91 celebrations in 34 countries. Small-scale farmers, producers, cooks, students, and Slow Food members using their creativity and knowledge to build a better food future; Action to strengthen communities, because a global food revolution begins from local roots.
What a privilege to share simple food with special friends. We toasted the Ethiopians, Americans, Italians and Kenyans who were celebrating local food along with us and vowed to live more locally every day. You can enjoy stories and photos of celebrations from across the Africa and the rest of the world at
Summer Ribollita recipe
Heat olive oil in a pan and fry four young onions and a head of celery stalks – all chopped up, of course, until soft and golden. Add lots of sliced garlic and the chopped stalks of the chard leaves and continue to cook. Add a big handful each of basil, mint, marjoram, parsley and celery leaves. Fry gently to combine and then add some skinned chopped tomatoes and some of the greens (spinach, chard, pumpkin, amaranthus, beetroot leaves). Cook gently for about 30 minutes then add the beans. Separately, blanch the chard/spinach in boiling water and chop roughly (this keeps the gorgeous green colour). Add along with some of the blanching liquid and another handful each of the herbs mentioned before – you can add borage too. It is very thick, not really a soup at all. Traditionally, in Italy, ciabatta is added to the soup, but I prefer to mop up the juices with the bread.
Bridget, a fellow blogger, was adamant that there should be a photo of me included in the post now and again, so she took this one. I think it is blurry because her chair was wobbly. Nothing to do with the wine!