One of the most beautiful images of the civilization of the Albese table is undoubtedly that of the jars of fruit lined up on planks or in niches in pantries, cellars or crotìn. Golden reflections that look like sunbeams in the half-light: a secret beauty of the cuisine of the Langa and Roero. But behind those colorful plays of light there are many messages: wisdom, sobriety, the art of cooking, family feelings.
The dream is ancient: to conserve the flavors of the sunny seasons for the cold months. Not to waste the abundance. Here then is the summer that works in laborious operations to prepare the Christmas table. A season that thinks about the other: and it’s beautiful. A Langhetta reinterpretation of the fable of the ant and the grasshopper.
The emblem are peaches. Which have their cradle right in the Roero as rational cultivation (Bricco San Martino di Vezza d’Alba, 1885) and as the first daily market (Canale, 1908). An agricultural revolution that gained international fame, as well as a driving force for commercial and entrepreneurial initiatives. Among these, the first empirical conservation attempts conceived by the Monferrato Francesco Cirio (Nizza Monferrato, 1835), destined to great fortunes in combination with the “Pelati Cirio” brand, must be counted.
But the handouts and dishes of starred taverns and restaurants are based on home-made and artisanal wisdom. Particularly suggestive are the atmospheres evoked by the ciapule (slices of sun-dried peaches), once preserved in canvas bags used to perfume linen. Or bottled for festive occasions.
I’ve already made you some bottles of peaches for when you come home on leave…
from the simple words written in August 1941 by a mother from Corneliano d’Alba to her soldier son, the sacred value of fruit for the peasant table shines through. Because cooking is also thought, thoughtfulness, feeling. Ritual and prayer.
The secret: to pick them in the heart of ripening and in the heart of summer; choose the less watery and freestanding varieties; be generous with the sugar. Whether with or without peel is a question that distinguishes two schools of taste. Indications that also apply to apricots, plums, pears and cherries.
Summer or winter kitchen? Certainly a modern kitchen: because it enhances beauty, naturalness and simplicity. A kitchen to be enjoyed as a privilege, as it was conceived months ahead. A kitchen that invites you to visit pantries and cellars. From the spectacular one of Marsupino 1901 in Briaglia to the rural one of Cascina Vrona in Monteu Roero, from the ethical one of the Vecchia Osteria in Castellino Tanaro to the joyful one of the Osteria Lele in Murazzano. Keeping in my heart the memory of Jose’s in Monteu Roero.
A praise of the most authentic cuisine of Alba which finds its apotheosis in the baked stuffed peaches or in the very peasant peaches in wine.
by Master Luciano Bertello