Thursday, February 9, 2012

For the Love of Schiacciata

I am not sure if I have fully described where we have landed in Italy.  We live on the edge of a lovely small Tuscan town with a population of about 850 people.  Being North Americans in the little village in the middle of winter, we are somewhat of a phenomena.  I have heard people in the Bar describing where I live, though I have never told them this information.  People just seem to know who we are.  Very few people speak any english, which for our learning experience is fantastic, we are forced to practice our Italian.  But this can also be intimidating.  Those who know me well, know I will strike up a conversation with anyone anywhere, so this language barrier is a bit like hobbling a race horse.  It is unusual for me to feel shy about approaching people, but little by little I am working on it.  If I don't practice and I don't make mistakes, I will never learn. 

There is a van that travels through the village honking his horn, selling fresh bread out of the back.  Some people even hang canvas bags on their fence posts or doors with their daily order.  I was not sure exactly how this all works, are they pre-ordered or do you just rock up to the van and see what he has.  How do you get him to come by your house, it is all a mystery to me.  So today we saw a gathering of donne (women) around his van and we decided we should swing by and try out this quaint little tradition.  Why today, why was I feeling courageous enough to try my limited Italian skills?  Well it is all about the schiacciata.

A couple of weeks back a friend here mentioned this bread called schiacciata (skee-ach-iata).  It is a traditional Tuscan flat bread, drizzled with olive oil and baked.  A bit like Focaccia by my reckoning, perhaps the same thing by a different name, but schiacciata seems flatter less bready more yummy.  (Schiacciata is an Italian word meaning flattened.)  Well we found it in the grocery store one day and it barely made it home, we ate so much of it in the car.  Then we even baked some of our own.  We have become lovers of schiacciata.

So this morning when we saw the bread van, my fear of approaching and trying to ask in Italian if we could buy some pane, was outweighed by my desire to have some fresh schiacciata.  The grouping of ladies looked on, chatting away in Italian, asking about our cane (dog).  And to my surprise the Van Bread Man spoke a wee bit of english.  So I practiced my Italian ordering 'schiacciata e mezzo chilo pane senza sale' and he practiced his english 'thank you very much'.  "Prego".

I was kind of giddy with excitement as I carried home my fresh bread, partially because I was excited about the yummy bread, but partly because I had negotiated one more Italian situation which until this time had me intimidated.  Baby steps, but steps all the same.

1 comment:

  1. So did you hang a bag on your mail box? Will the bread van make a stop at your door? Way to go, my sweet hobbled-race horse, you did good!