August is a long, slow month in Umbria. Most of the world seems to be somewhere else. Italians flock to the beach and everybody else believes it’s not a good time to be here so it’s very quiet here on our magical mountain.
Every evening at sunset we sit on the terrace with a glass of beer – we love craft beers recently – and gaze at the valley below. We live on all manners of salads and fruit, often it hardly seems necessary to eat.
When it’s not too hot, we drag ourselves away from the views and go to village festivals or a flea market, another favorite and slow way to spend time.
My favorite festival so far has been the Barbarian festival (Festa dei Barbari) in Castel Rigone near the Trasimeno Lake. We got to make a walk with a bunch of tough looking guys dressed up like Ostrogoths. They were getting ready to fight against the Romans in the local soccer field.
The Romans lost the battle, but as in all good Italian feasts, both sides ended up joining around the dinner table, children running in the piazza, vine flowing from metal tanks fashioned as a backpack and carried by the “soldiers”.
The Umbrian summer nights are quite magnificent. Starry, breezy, lively with the villages buzzing with food, drinks, games, concerts, there is always something to do.
It’s so peaceful here, a million miles away from the angst of our cruel and beautiful world. We have our worries here too, we have our difficulties, but not watching television to avoid bad news and living modestly helps. We don’t need to achieve anything. We are gifted by peace in our little corner of paradise.
- 300 g cucumber (about 10 oz or 1 English style cucumber or 2 regular cucumbers)
- 50 g ( 3 tab) almonds
- 120 g (4 oz) fresh ricotta
- 1 small spring onion
- a handful of wild fennel leaves, fennel tops or 1/4 fennel bulb
- a handful fresh mint leaves
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- extra virgin olive oil, best quality
- 1 slice crusty Italian style bread, toasted
- 1 clove of garlic
In a food processor, blitz cucumber, almonds, ricotta, herbs, onion and salt until very smooth and creamy. Add 1-2 tablespoons of your best extra virgin olive oil. Make sure to taste the soup and adjust salt or olive il if neded. Add a little lemon juice to bring out the flavor if the cucumbers are not sweet enough which happens if they are not fresh.
Divide into bowls.
Toast bread, rub it with a clove of garlic, dice and place over the soup. Drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil and serve. I love it with hard-boiled eggs on the side.