Day 8: Muro Lucano, Agriturismo Nonna Maria and My Grandmother

Proclaimed one of the most beautiful villages in Basilicata, Muro Lucano, situated on a picturesque mountain top, holds a special place in my heart.  My father is a native of the village and it’s where my only surviving grandmother sill lives. It’s the first place I ever visited in Italy when I was a child.

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Before heading to visit my grandmother, the crew was invited to a newly restructured farm turned into an agri-tourism operation: « Agriturismo della Nonna » which combines a farm-like property with a restaurant and shelter, utilising only produce obtained directly from the farm.

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Nonna Maria and her daughter prepared their traditional dish « agnello con le patate sulla brace”, roasted lamb and potatoes with a side dish of “cicoria, patate e fagioli”, chicory and white beans.

Even though the cooking time for the lamb in the charcoal oven takes a few hours, it was perfectly timed for the long leisurely meal the crew and I were treated to. As we waited for our main course, Nonna Maria decided to serve us a wonderful plate of homemade cavatelli with fresh tomato sauce.

The “ciccoria, patate e fagioli” minestrone was ready for us to taste as an appetizer before the long awaited lamb specialty. This minestrone is certainly an improvement over the raw carrots, celery sticks and cucumbers North Americans seem to prefer as a means to get the necessary  daily vegetable intake. This legume dish is not only great-tasting but an excellent healthy treat.

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Finally, the lamb is ready. We can smell it from afar. Oven mitt in hand, Nonna Maria takes the burningly hot pan out of the charcoal fire with one hand and naturally serves us with the other.   We are in heaven. The meat is tender and one can taste all the wonderful flavorings that have been captured during the slow cooking process.

We kissed our cooks good-bye and drank an intense short espresso before making our way to see my grand mother just a few km away. I have a few cousins and aunts still living in Muro Lucano, but unfortunately none of them were able to free themselves to meet me and my crew. In spite of my disappointment and sadness, I rejoiced in the shared intimate moments I had with my grandmother, now 94-years old and a grandmother to a total of 11 grandchildren. For the first time ever, a moment in time belonged to just the two of us. I was so proud to have her be the pillar of my wonderful project.

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