One of my fantasizes is to live on a farm in Italy that overlooks a tremendous emerald-green valley full of fig trees and roaming, lazy cows and olives trees and grape vines and big prosciuttos growing off prosciutto trees and hunks of Pecorino growing off of Pecorino trees. Of course, I’m joking olives don’t grow on trees you buy them in jars or at the olive bar at the Italian store on Hanover Street in the North End of Boston.
On my farm, I would grow my own vegetables and raise my own pigs and chickens. I envision myself gathering eggs every morning and eating them scrambled with fresh rosemary whisked inside and topped with crispy potatoes and a dollop of Ricotta that I make fresh every other day, (I’d sell it to the locals and they’d love me for it and I’d love them for loving my Ricotta).
I see myself at noon each day gathering fresh herbs and vegetables and eating rosy red tomatoes like apples while having one foot on my fence and the other on the ground as I watch my pigs scramble in their pen and all the while I am thinking about which pig I am going to slaughter for Christmas next month. When I’m done, I’ll walk back to my house and look at the sky that is full of low hanging clouds, so low in fact I try to touch them and each time I’d try, I’d laugh at my silly attempt and smile widely and I’ll say things to myself like, “la bella Vita!” and “Dio Mio Bella!” and a wild cat will follow me home and I’ll give it some goat milk and name it Florinda. Florinda will find a place on my roof and never go away and cry at midnight to the starry sky at night.
At three O’clock each day I see myself chasing plump chickens in my yard, catching one and twisting its neck off and plopping it in a vat of boiling water to loosen its feathers so I can pluck it naked, (I’d have a big cooper pot generations old for boiling water that I bought from a farmer in Tuscany who sold his farm equipment to me because he and was moving to Argentina to be with his childhood girlfriend). I’d drink glasses of my own farm wine made with deep blue grapes that are so beautiful they almost look cartoonish, but I know they are indeed real because I pick them at night and plop them in my mouth (they are deeply tart and sweet and almost taste blue) and their sweet juice runs down my chin as I stroll through my vineyard by the light of the moon. I’d spit out their small seeds and I laugh, and say things like, “Amo la mia vita” and “Il mio uve roccia”
But I am getting ahead of myself, because before I’d walk through my grape vineyard by the light of the moon, I would have eaten my chicken for dinner that I slaughtered. Below is how I would make it and how I made it tonight, not in Italy, but in Boston…
Who in their right mind could possibly resist a sale on a Bell & Evans Chicken, certainly not me! I picked one up on sale today, a fat fucker with white, normal healthy looking skin. I chopped it into many small pieces keeping the bones intact. I covered the bottom of my prized and precious Le Creuset pan with olive oil and laid the chicken pieces skin side down, browning them nicely and turning them over carefully and keeping the skin on. Next I added chunks of Yukon potatoes, a handful of roughly chopped fat carrots and big meaty slices of Portobello mushrooms, a quartered sweet onion, sprigs of fresh fragrant thyme and a truck load of garlic cloves. I covered and steamed it for ten minutes, then I added plenty of dry white wine and let it all reduce back down to oil and chicken fat and let it all fry and get golden and dry and crispy, finishing off with dabs of Irish butter. I ate it with my hands and a fork and I drank white wine with it and now I am going out for a peppermint ice cream with my sister and tonight as I doze -off I’ll think about my Italian farm and how one day I hope to murder a chicken as good as the one I had tonight.