mercoledì 30 luglio 2008

Seize the Caper Blossom and Robert Redford and the notte di San Lorenzo

Alas, the Tuscan Sun Festival and Robert Redford have come and gone...fluttering away like fallen caper blossom petals to notes played by Joshua Bell.

The other day while out for a morning walk, Carlotta and I noticed that the wall at the end of Via Nazionale had lots of blooming caper bushes! The caper flower is beautiful with papery large white petals and delicate burgundy stamens. It was getting late, we didn't have our camera with us so we put it off. Today we went to the wall armed with camera...all blooms were wilted at best and alas no pictures! At least not today, there were some big fat buds that looked promising but not for today.

And this was the spirit of curiosity and amount of success we had getting a "sighting" a glimpse, a "my touch with greatness" moment while strolling the streets and casually hoping to bump into Robert Redford. Much like the time that Oprah was at the market and run as I did from square to square and displays of wares, alas, I did not get an upclose and personal moment. This is not to say that we haven't had our chances here in Cortona! I did see Cicely Tyson one day at the market-Malcolm McDowell is a good friend of a friend. Of course we have our own home grown celebrity- Lorenzo Cherubini the songwriter/singer better known as Jovanotti who introduced Italian Rap. Rumor has it that Moto GP champion Valentino "The Doctor" Rossi and friend of Jovanotti has just bought a house here and once I had lunch once at "The Antica Trattoria" with Catherine Spaack and Orso Maria Guerrini. The Queen Mother, bless her soul stopped by to visit us, as well as past pope John Paul II. All these little nods from the realm of celebrity hint that there could be something here worth seeing, enjoying, experiencing.

Tracy Chapman held a concert here-but nothing meant more to me than peering out of a friend's piazza facing balcony window to enjoy one of Lionel Hampton's last European concerts and admiring the verve and showmanship of this great-He didn't want to let down the standing room only humanity packed piazza- hopping and bopping back on stage to Give them More! and more again-
Cortona, "piccola grande" Cortona- has pulled a few stars into its orbit.

And so, August 10th is San Lorenzo's feast day, and the night of the shooting stars- Days that blaze hot-and the evening is to be spent finding a nice dark place (preferably with a good friend) and searching the heavens for shooting stars-blazes of light-to fill hearts with wishes and promises.
There is unfortunately a not so romantic side to this tale. They say that when Saint Lawrence was martyrred he was burned on a grill...YIKES!! to underline his unwavering faith, we are told that his last words were (and to paraphrase) "Turn me over, this side's done"---anyway, the shooting stars are supposed to represent the sparks.
The Comune together with the MAEC museum, the Cortona wine producers association as well as tourist promotional groups got a great idea. Organize a festival at our Fortezza Girafalco at the top of town. So from 6pm to midnight there were shuttles moving people up and down to gaze at the stars and look for hope.

The weather has been HOT, HOT, HOT and our minds turn toward foods which are constellated by capers. Vitello Tonnato-cold roast beef dressed with tuna sauce spiked with capers, Insalata di Riso, that classic Italian picnic dish, rice dressed with olives and olive oil, onion , pickles , tuna, cheese, ham, and then those drab green little buds, oddly fragrant, salty -sour. The warm origano spiced tomato and melted mozzarella of the pizza Napoli flavored with anchovy fillets and capers .The impossibly miniscule capers served with lox and cream cheese, perhaps on a bagel. The pickled caper fruit has become a mainstay as a cocktail aperitivo along with pretzels and peanuts- substituted by for the onion or olive in a martini.
So why do we have to search high and low for celebrity and notariety? It grows here wild on the walls. Each little bud had the potential become this beautiful flower!

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