Monday, July 02, 2007

San Giovanni Day Revisted

June 24, here in Italy is known as San Giovanni Day or Saint John the Baptist name day. And what, you ask, is the significance of that particular day? especially those of us who weren't raised Catholic or Italian?

Well, for starters, it's a day that seems to have been adopted as a religious substitute for the pagan summer solstice celebrations of June 21 longest day of the year. One of our guests was telling me that the night before San Giovanni day is one of a magical tradition. If you go out into the forest you should be able to commune with the fairies and elves. Legend has it, if you leave a bowl of water out on the eve of the 24th all night and wash your face with the water the next morning, you will be blessed with good health. I would like to get out next year and have a bit of a wander around and see if I can discover any of these woodland fairy folk. Something to look forward to for the year.
For little Serre Marchetto, where we live and run Bella Baita B&B, it's a special holiday for our family because this day is Fabrizio's Nonno Guistetto's, name day and a time of reflection and celebration of his life. His mother's father grew up here and we still enjoy his garden every summer that Fabrizio's father now so lovingly tends every year. Back in 1965, Nonno Guistetto was instrumental in getting the footpath from Borgata Rosetto, to what is now the end of our road in Grandubbione, paved. The trek up to this area is more manageable, but that's a story for another time.

On the evening of the 23, the parish priest makes his annual trek up to bless our "pillone" that is at the top of our "colle" Afterwards, he and a good portion of our Serre Marchetto neighbors all come over for a long and late night session of eating and general merriment, hosted by Fabrizio's parents. They may have retired from "La Baita" restaurant years ago, but they love to entertain and an invitation to sit at the large table of Egle and Dante, is a coveted invitation and seldom turned down. There are several of these feasts over the summer and eagerly awaited by friends for their turn to eat small course after course before struggling to the end to finish without popping.

Pillone

Egle's San Giovanni Festa Menu

Antipasti

Melon & Proscuitto
Fresh locally made Salami
Fresh Coconut and Shrimp Salad
(aptly called Insalata Exotica or Egle's fantasy salad)
Russian Salad
(reminiscent of American potato salad)
Grissini & Marla's much requested Olive bread on the table

Primi Piatti
Agnoloti alla Piemontese
Brodo with mini pate au choux puffs

Secondi Piatti
Roasted Guinea Fowl
Arrosto (roast Beef)
Patate Fritte
not just any deep fried potatoes, but Dante's homegrown potatoes form Nonno's garden
Coste, steamed greens from the garden

Cheese Course

Local Berge andTomini
Gorgonzola
Macedonia Salad
Fresh fruit salad
many of the fruits from Nonno's garden

Dante's
fresh made Banana Gelato
made while we all digest a bit
Torte
Egle's Puff pastry Chocolate Cream Dream
Any number of mignons(miniature cream filled pastries) and home made tortes that the other guests have brought, knowing that there will be loads of other deserts, but tradition reigns
all washed down with sparking Muscato, dry and sweet

Caffe

Digestivi
break out the home made Genepy, Grappa, Serpoul and various other home brews
Grappa Cherries

Stop
Everyone trundles home


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