Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ballo di Mario

Every summer our almost 80-year-old neighbour can be seen spreading a large piece of cloth on the water tank. On the cloth he places this year’s harvest of chickpea plants. The chickpeas have grown among the olive trees, looking like weeds, until the plants are cut down, gathered in sheaves and left to dry under a table on the terrace. When the cloth emerges the chickpeas are almost done – they just need a couple of days more in direct sunlight.

Then Mario will take off shoes and socks, step up on the chickpeas and walk around with twisting steps. A moving sight we have termed 'Ballo di Mario'. In between the measured steps he grabs a handful of plant parts and throws them up in the air. In this way straws and waste fly away, leaving only chickpeas. The whole process takes a few hours or four, but then the family will be a chickpeas to last through winter.

I have tried to ask Mario, if he knows the price of a kilo chickpeas in the market. He just smiles broadly, revealing the holes where he once had teeth, and says:

- The price is not important. What matters is the taste and nothing tastes better than home grown food.

For inspiration on how to prepare chickpeas, see the Swedish-English-Italian blog Lucillian Delights. The photos are truely delicious.

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