This would need to be an 80-part post to properly convey the scope of our time in Italy with Messors. Since that seems to be a lot to ask, I will try to condense it down to 3 posts over the next little while.
Southern Italy is the place for me: the colour palette, the pace, the olive groves and wheat fields, crumbling stone farmhouses and medieval towns, growing out of cliff sides like barnacles. It is both equally austere on one end and achingly opulent on the other. I found it wildly and endlessly inspiring on so many levels. All these things would be amazing to see on one's own but what made it even richer was spending it with people who have a deep deep love and long established roots in the area: people who are passionately committed to preserving a cultural and culinary history that is not exempt from the effects of globalization.
"Slow Living" and "Slow Food is not a new concept and I thought I understood it pretty well. I grew up in the country, we grew our food, we knew where our cheese came from. We run a store and café that fully supports these ideas... BUT we still live in a city. Somehow the pace of the city has crept up without my even noticing and I was gently reminded how important these things are. It was beautiful to slow down and observe the time, care, and attention that went into the all of the details.
The day began with making pecorino and ricotta with Raphaele and his wife at their farm. We then moved over to a beautiful stone shepherd's house, located in a field surrounded by 3rd century caves, followed with some lessons and insights into the typical cheeses of Puglia: mozzarella, bocconcini, treccia, burrata, and scarmoza with Vito and his son. We had a traditional shepherd's lunch within the cool confines of this stone house, which offered us wonderful respite from the heat outside. After a brief lay-around in the grass discussing the religious aspects of shepherding the the dying art of textile production, we were on the move...
... and we ended the day here, having dinner on a bridge in Gravina!
As I've mentioned before, setting tables is one of my favourite things to do and I got to do a lot of that. In fact, I will be writing a post dedicated specifically to "art of the picnic".
There really is too much to possibly cover without going on forever. I hope these photos are able to give you an idea of the absolute beauty that filled my eyes everyday. Keep watch for the follow up posts! Thank you Tonio, Jennifer, Julie, Francesco, Nicole and Rossana for your hard work, dedication and beauty!