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Loving Traditional Practices

December 2, 2014

 

While visiting Sicily, I enjoy spending time with my friend, Roberta. She lives in the countryside, on Mt. Etna, with a breathtaking view of the foothills and the Ionian Sea, seeking a quiet life!!! Roberta’s vocation has always been cooking, as she is fascinated by the process of creating a variety of dishes from scratch. She was trained in French Cuisine, but her inclination to try every kind of cuisine she comes in touch with has made her a cook of many cultures. In the past, Roberta ran a catering service, Lapecheronza, which offered its customers a variety of dishes.

It was while working as a caterer, that Roberta realized there were two elements in her work that were in contrast with her beliefs. The first was that her pace of life had become too fast and she realized that was not healthy for herself and represented a quality of life different from the one she wanted to maintain. The second element that interfered with Roberta’s principles was that although her dishes were cooked utilizing the best quality of ingredients available, and it was all cooked with love, the final product was not as healthy intrinsically as it was aesthetically appealing. From that experience, Roberta realized she needed to focus on the type of healthy food one should consume daily, and not the rich foods of celebration. Consequently, Roberta stopped her successful catering business to move to the countryside.

View from the house

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Living in the countryside has opened up new practices in the art of food production. Roberta’s new business is named by the principle behind her new choices, Altri Ritmi, which means A Different Pace. She grows her own fruits and vegetables and preserves the extra produce. Slowly she has succeeded in growing and producing the majority of food she consumes and is self-sufficient. She produces jams and marmalades, fruit juices, dehydrates fruits, makes tomato sauces, cans artichoke hearts, eggplant sauces, pepper sauces, cans fresh tuna, cooks Zakuska, a Romanian tomato sauce with vegetables, and more. The one pride in Roberta’s food production has become making pasta and bread utilizing original Sicilian whole organic wheat.

Checking some pasta that was drying

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Thanks to her new experiences, Roberta has learned about wheat. She has learned about the human interventions made to wheat crops from the timeframe dating from the early fifties to the seventies. During that time period, wheat crops were radiated with x-rays and gamma rays and the result of these interventions was twofold. While on one side it improved production, on the other side it changed the structure of the gluten content of the wheat, gluten, which became more resistant resulting in the growth of food allergies.

Wheat Research Field in Caltagirone

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Nowadays, Roberta offers cooking classes both online as well as in her home thus sharing her knowledge. Today she is making bread and I have come to visit and share this experience. In Sicily, the original wheats, that were preserved by the Research Wheat Field in Caltagirone, which I visited and wrote about in a post on this blog in July 2013, include more than sixty types of original Sicilian wheat. The entire selection is not available for purchase on the market, but only present at the experimental site. The wheats that are available for purchase are just a few. The most utilized is Timilia, and then there are the varieties called Sicilia, Margherito, Russello, Farro Lungo, Perciasacchi.

Robert is fluent in English and can be contacted for inquiries at: robitimpa@gmail.com

Following are some photos taken today while making bread!

The night before……..mixing…..

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kneading………

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Up at sunrise…….

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Preparing baskets for baking

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Ready for oven

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Preparing wood burning oven

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Great fire

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Placing bread in oven

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Quick check inside oven

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Taking bread out of oven

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Wonderful fragrance…..

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Great taste!

 

 

 

2 Comments
  1. Renee permalink

    That bread looks so good!!

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