Some of my fondest memories from childhood are those I spent in the garden, side by side with my mom. She grew fruits and vegetables such as strawberries and tomatoes when Miami’s tropical sun would allow. Then in the winter, or second summer as we say in Miami, we would harvest grapefruit, lemon, sour orange and tangelo and in the summer there would be avocados, bananas, guavas, jaboticaba grapes and mangoes galore! One year my mom tried to plant a crab apple tree, just to see what would happen. I do remember these wee tiny apples, even though we only had a small crop.
So this means that living in Turin, I have accepted both the positive and negative lifestyle changes. To me, Turin is like a mini New York City. There’s plenty of culture and everything is so concentrated in terms of living space. Therefore, apartment living is the norm and having your own personal green space can be a bit of a challenge. On the other hand, one can escape to the mountains very easily. And so, this is where the small town of Gravere (Grah-VE-reh) comes in. Gravere, located in the Valle di Susa, is an hour east of Turin and it’s where my husband’s family built their second home away from Turin. Vegetables abound from l’orto or the vegetable garden and there are also fruit and nut trees.
An apple harvest can be tedious for each apple must be picked single-handedly or with the help of an apple picker. Then they must be placed every so gently into bins or baskets to avoid bruising. Having a cantina or basement is a big help, for the apples can be stored in these semi-underground moderately tempered rooms to help conserve the apples naturally for months at a time. For apple conservation, apple butter, applesauce and apple pie are the first things that come to mind. Then there’s apple chutney and apple bread.
My mother has passed down the ritual of caring for the land and its plants so graciously to me and I couldn’t be more thankful.