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The Corniness of Tuscany in Fall

■ 8 October 2012 by James Martin

flint corn for polentaAutumn. I love it. My neighbor is getting ready to bottle his wine. His cantina is just below us. You can hardly miss the perfume. Of the wine I mean.

The canons have stopped their timed booming that legend has it scare the wild bore out of the corn fields and the annoying sound has been replaced, on the very same day the canons stopped, with the sharp retort of hunting rifles. As we walk back home from the bar this morning, we noticed that the streets of our little village had suddenly become lined with the flint corn that will be made into polenta. It will dry in the sun, whole in a cassetta or stripped from the ear (it’s already been dried on the stalk for several weeks), waiting for its time at the mill. The lack of rain means they’ll have to wait; the mill is water driven.

flint corn drying for polentaAlong the way we stop to take pictures. We end up with a bag of polenta. Our neighbors had a small window of opportunity to get a tiny bit milled before the stream ran dry enough to put a kink the the process.

Enormous baskets of porcini are on display outside of restaurants. As I admired them, a man drew me aside and in a harsh whisper asked, “Beautiful, I wonder where they got them?” When I returned my famously befuddled look (which I hoped would pass for “I’m not telling” rather than “I’m an idiot tourist who wouldn’t have a clue where to look”) he told me he would be going out to get his funghi in five or six days. It was like he was telling me a secret I shouldn’t tell other people.

In fall, rural Tuscany is filled with intrigue as well as things good to eat.

The Corniness of Tuscany in Fall originally appeared on WanderingItaly.com Oct 08, 2012, © James Martin.

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