Wednesday, December 07, 2011

The Gift. Italian generosity and the Positano hearts.


I was in the kitchen and I discerned the thud of a soft tread of footsteps running down the stairs past my window. Not having heard the wrought iron gate clank on opening, I was sure it would be someone familiar with the house. As I pulled the ancient front door open, a bundle of leaves appeared round the corner of the stone wall and our gardener followed them to the landing. He was holding a big bunch of orange blossom. “I’ve just been pruning the neighbours trees” he said, “and I thought ‘La Signora’(me) might like them.”


This was not the first time we’d been offered an unexpected gift from him. Often I’d get phone calls saying to send my son up to the Grotta di Fornillo to pick up something he’d freshly picked from his garden in Montepertuso. He’d arrive at the Grotta on his Vespa, with a big box or large bag of tomatoes, strings of onions, peppers, white eggplants and entire plants of basil all tucked between his legs.


For in Positano and probably in Italy in general, one of the most appreciated and loving gifts involves home grown, home bottled or (in Positano’s case) freshly fished food.


Our favourite car service, long since become friends of the family, drops off pastiera, homemade struffoli and whoppers of tomatoes from their garden when passing through town.


Over the years, fresh local fish like tontani or palamito (great with pasta); local artisanal panettone and home-baked cakes; crisp string beans; colourful fresh borlotti beans; sweet peppers; homemade limoncello and other liquors; the most tender home bottled tuna and mixed giardiniera; jams; fresh eggs and delicious dried figs stuffed with chocolate and walnuts then soaked in sherry have also featured frequently in offerings from other locals.


I’ve even received handmade Positano soaps from Saponissmo made from local ingredients. And I’m sure I’ve left things out.


There is a whole nurturing relationship between Italians and their food. It has to be locally produced and the simplest to present at the table. Zero miles to get from the garden to the plate. Prepared lovingly, each meal is savoured, discussed and complimented, with suggestions for later preparations and improvements. It’s no wonder that this exchange of homemade or home grown gifts is so appreciated in Italy and that Italian hospitality almost always involves a meal, or coffee with a food offering.

My Italian grandmother used to say ‘mangia, mangia!’to me every night at the dinner table, and when an Italian to tells you to eat, they mean it as a gift of love. 

So I thank you Positano, for your generous gifts of welcome to this beautiful town. And prego, have some oranges!



This post is part of the Italy Blogging Roundtable’s invitation to post on this topic.

The roundtable blogs include: ArtTrav, At Home in Tuscany, Italylogue, Italofile and Brigolante.

Thank you for inviting me.


Anonymous said...

Mangia ... mangia ...
It's the leit motiv here!
Beautiful post.

Miss Footloose | Life in the Expat Lane said...

Lovely! I love Italian hospitality. We once rented a little apartment in Salerno for two weeks from a very nice woman. She took us around town, and later around the area, buying us coffee and local pastries and other local delicacies.

She invited us twice for dinner with her family at her own house. Then invited us for a weekend at their summer place in Agropoli. She then told us to take her car and go explore Peastum.

When we left she gave us jars of her own jam and a bottle of her own limoncello.

We were perfect strangers. We'd rented her apartment over the Internet. She was fabulous and we had a wonderful time with her and her family.

(The limoncello blew its cork in my carryon bag - a sweet mess ;)

You are lucky to live in such a beautiful and hospital place!

Cathi said...

Those are wonderful and delicious looking gifts! I have some of those same soaps and love them! xxoo :)

LindyLouMac said...

A lovely post as you have put into words so well the way Italians welcome one as a neighbour and friend with such wonderful lovingly produced home grown and home cooked gifts. :)

Elizabeth said...

Food and its preparation is a true gift of love. The Italians really know the importance of this gift. Food & wine makes us feel welcomed.

Thanks for your beautiful post and pictures

nikinpos said...

Every now and again we get given a fresh chicken...thankfully plucked..or sometimes fish just caught by the fisherman..onions and homemade wine from Zio, eggs from all sorts of people, plums an d flowers from Peppe, salad and veg from Nonno, lemons from Dollyna (she has the most amazing lemon tree!)So I just give soap back to everyone as I dont have any trees or plants!

glenda said...

What the heyy
the only difference in this blog and figs and lemons is the child!!! whats up

Rosa said...

@glenda The one you are looking for is the previous commentatore!

Debra Kolkka said...

I love this part of Italy!! The food alone is enough to make me want to be back there.

Unknown said...

How lovely.

Happy Christmas.