Accidental foragers

We finished our flower picking for the day, and decided to go for a walk down by the river that flows at the bottom of this valley. We can hear it rushing from our window at all times of the day, and figured it was about time to see it up close.

We were just barely through town when a car pulled up and my name was shouted. This was alarming for a number of reasons, one of which is that we don’t know anybody in this village, region, country. The other reason is that the name being called Zachariah, the biblical version of my name.

Nobody calls me this. Nobody except Gabriella, of course. We turn around and see her sitting in the passenger seat of a small car. As we crowd into the backseat we learn that the driver is her granddaughter Gulia, and next to us is Gulia's father, Flavio.

I had met Flavio briefly as he was mowing the lawn behind the house. It was hot and we were both sweating and having a conversation with one of the few Italian words I know: caldo, or hot.

They were going for a walk too, and invited us to join them. It’s only an hour or so, they promised as we sped away.

What great way to see an area. Guided by two locals whose family has populated this valley for many generations. We meandered along the stream only for a little bit before crossing it and climbing up through fields filled with mallow and nettles.

I asked Gulia if there are mushrooms among the pines and before I knew it, I was following Flavio up a steep embankment. Oh, there are mushrooms here.

One giant porcini mushroom (and other mushrooms for risotto)

One giant porcini mushroom (and other mushrooms for risotto)

After filling our pockets, we continued along the path to what Flavio called “Gulia’s Farm”. It turns out it was his grandfathers property and we were given a tour of what was left of it. The views from this part of the valley are spectacular, to say the least.

Wild Strawberries!

Wild Strawberries!

We passed through more fields, more forest, found a porcini and then began to spot loads and loads of wild strawberries. I’ve never eaten a wild strawberry before. They aren’t much like the domesticated varieties I’m accustomed to, except for in color and shape. The flavor is so much more concentrated. It’s the essence of a strawberry. It packs an almost engineered and candy-esque punch, and it’s easy to eat them by the handful. 

It was an afternoon full of surprises. We set out for a simple walk for a river, got a guided tour through an edible wilderness filled with family history, and met the nicest people.

Needless to say, we sautéed those mushrooms in olive oil and fresh herbs from the garden for dinner, and made plans to go for another walk soon.