Now, we don’t have a big garden in Cittadella, but we do have a terrace and we do have some nice plants. Our newest addition is a chicory growing slowly in the corner, getting some sun, shade and water (most of the time we have to water the plants also during colder months, because it doesn’t rain enough). I’m extremely pleased to have my own vegetable growing, because in times like these it can be very useful to be able to cultivate some of your own food.

Not only do we have this amazing chicory, we are also creating something else, which we call “mother yeast” (of course neither a fruit nor a vegetable, but anyway interesting). Mother yeast is a well known concept in Italy and is used a lot to prepare pizza, bread or sweet bread (e.g. panettone). It means that companies make sure they can keep on creating their own high quality yeast by feeding and re-using it constantly. Fresh yeast is something I always had trouble to find in the Netherlands, but in Italy it is available in almost every supermarket. However, now that the coronavirus is keeping us at home, most Italians have decided to start baking as if pizza and cakes are in fact the cure to this disease (well.. mentally they are in a way) and it has become difficult to find enough fresh yeast and flour actually as well. So we’ve decided to use a small part of the dough from one of my breads to create our own yeast. This actually works. If you make sure that this small piece of dough becomes a little bit liquid, you add some flour and some sugar and put it in a box in the fridge, you have your own yeast. Every time you want to make a pizza or bread you can take a little bit of the yeast and use it. To make sure it never ends you need to feed it flour almost on a daily basis. Yes, you read it correctly, feed it. It’s alive and it needs something to eat.

We’ve realised that the longer we have to stay inside (and we really stay inside – we can’t go out for a walk), the more we’ve gone back to basics. Which is not easy in an apartment.
Fortunately in the south my boyfriend’s parents have land and cultivate a serious amount of fruit and vegetables and having grown up there, my boyfriend actually has the skills to work the land, grow lemons, tomatoes, pumpkins, lettuce, zucchini, produce wine, gather nuts, etc.
These skills are now particularly useful.

As limited as we are here, we are still able to cultivate something and enjoy the fruits of our labour. It’s easier than you might think to appreciate the simple things in life.

From Italy with love,

Merel