August 4, 2009
August 4th, 2009 |

Honey, Eggplant and Nonna’s Kitchen

Every group so far has been working hard on their perspective stories. The stories range from the city’s graffiti problems to  beekeepers, cresce sfogliate, and instrument makers, among many others. Throughout this month,  not only have I been able to participate in my own group’s  stories but also in the stories of others.

As a journalist, I find that this is the most exciting part of my job; I get to learn a little bit about people, events and stories about which the general public is unaware.

Any opportunity I have to help or even be invited to witness another story I take it and go. So when Nicole asked me to help her photograph a panorama for her bee story,  I jumped at the chance.

The Gabannini bee farm is a fourth-generation family run business in Urbino. Their little shop sits in front of the property with the house directly behind it and the beehives and boxes are perched on the hillside adjacent to the store.

Entering the store, you see that it is a simple family shop containing shelves lined with different sizes and flavors of honey. The setting sun shines through the window and the jars of “miele di fragola” (strawberry honey) are eye-catching; amber red light shines from the glass.

The “nonna” (grandmother) of the family, Ita Gina, answers the door and tells the interpreter that her husband is soon to arrive but she allows us to come in. We walk through the shop and out through the patio. The family’s property is on a hillside and looming up further I can see a view of Urbino. The sunset beats down on Urbino’s stone walls.

“Nonna” takes us to the little house through a hobbit-sized door and there the four of us stand squished in front of the gas stove. “Nonna,” the interpreter and I are all short but six-foot-tall Nicole crouches to avoid the ceiling. “Nonna” says she needs to finish making dinner.  Nicole asks me to take pictures of “nonna” to add to her slideshow, so I oblige.

In this unexpected moment, I finally get to reach one of my most desired goals in coming to Italy – that is to sit in a real grandma’s kitchen and watch her cook Italian food.

Apart from the intrigue of visiting a real bee farm,  stepping into “nonna’s” kitchen was like learning about two stories for the price of one.

“Nonna” slices “melanzana” (eggplants) from her garden and throws the round disks on to the sizzling skillet. I snap some pictures but pause to converse with “nonna.” She laughs as she flips the slices with a fork and then she gives me a rundown on how to cook the recipe. She speaks to me as if I am a native Italian speaker and seems to be pleased that someone is interested in her cooking.

“Nonna” says “e simplice di cocinare.” The rich smell of garlic wafts up my nose as she takes the cooked slices off the heat and onto a plate. Her wrinkled hand grabs a garnish mixture of Italian parsley and fresh garlic, spreads it over the top of the toasted disks and sprinkles olive oil over the finished “melanzana.”

This experience has been one of the richer ones of my trip because I feel like I learned something about the Italian culture that I have been living in. This recipe I can take home and share with my kids. Now the question is will my recipe taste like “nonna’s?”

One Response to “Honey, Eggplant and Nonna’s Kitchen”

  1. bmurphy says:

    Your pictures are so vivid, I can smell the garlic and the olive oil! Now I want to try to make this, too.

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