I am, of course, expecting something different.
A few days ago, in the hunt for eggs for F, I had, following instructions from the Internet and then from some people who quite obviously lived in that area and told me with a lot of certainty where I should go, veered off track from my normal way home and, in the process, found myself on a real ‘track’, across fields, eventually leading to a farm with a no-entry sign, which I promptly ignored, to park my car and get out and, because I could see no other living being – human or otherwise, traipsed all over the farm and then onto another road where, after some time I found some people who had just driven up who told me that I should go somewhere else.
I gave up at that point and went back to the car and headed home.
Since we are talking Italians and directions and, given that there is so little in the way of sign posts (well, that’s not actually true – there are a million and one sign posts, normally pointing to things you really don’t want or, where there are ones pointing the way to somewhere you want to go, they are lost amongst the irrelevant sign posts or, worse, pointing ambiguously – so you never know you are on the right road until you see another sign post that you want (and since sometimes the sign posting just disappears for a bit, you can never be sure either way)), I asked Pietro (see his blog link at the side) if he would kindly phone this place that I couldn’t find and get the directions from them.
I was bloody determined.
You may wonder why I was travelling all over the Italian countryside for eggs. After all, I can buy eggs from the supermarket that is about two seconds walk from my house. Ah yes but, in line with some of the weird and wonderful things to do with F, it seems that not all eggs are, in fact, quite good enough. It seems that unless you know the hens lineage, one never really knows what one is getting. OK so I exaggerate just a little. However, he never eats eggs unless he is at his parent’s home. This is because, apparently, supermarket eggs are simply not fresh enough and he doesn’t trust them. So, being the good boyfriend that I am (and, secretly, between you and I, because he has promised me a home-made Tiramisù – but only when he can get fresh, almost plopped-in-your-hand-from-the-hen’s-bottom eggs) I am trying to find somewhere I can buy them directly. As I work outside the city and, so, travel everyday through kind of green bits (with things like farms and trees and stuff), I thought that I must be able to find somewhere on my way home.
I had visions. I would find some little farm which had chickens walking about the farmyard with some farmer’s wife responsible for collecting said eggs. She would be short and round with rosy cheeks and always be wearing an apron over her rather old-fashioned small-flowery dress, with slightly unkempt hair but kindly and I would ask for eggs and she would go the some outhouse where she had some eggs that were still dirty, since they don’t wash them and she would pick some for me and they would still be warm.
I explain to Pietro, jokingly, that, ideally, the eggs would still have hen’s feathers stuck to them.
He asked me why I hadn’t spoken to him before. He usually does this. He phones. They tell him that they stopped selling fresh eggs some time ago. Hmmm. But then he explained that there was this place, just outside the town I work and, sort of, on my way home.
I drive up the lane but, as I approach, instead of a farm yard I see a car park. The car park is full of cars. And there are supermarket trolleys abandoned over the car park. And there are lots of people.
In fact it was, what we would describe as a farm shop. One of the large farm shops that you also get in the UK. They sell everything and, were it not for the slightly less salubrious surroundings are, in fact, like a supermarket!
However, F is not with me. I won’t tell him. If he thinks, like I did, of a rosy-cheeked, slightly scruffy and old-fashioned farmer’s wife, selling freshly collected eggs from her kitchen, then why would I spoil that image? Actually, he probably doesn’t have that image. It was my image. I still, sometimes, think of Italy as if it was the UK when I was a kid. And when it isn’t, I feel slightly let-down, wanting it to be true to reinforce my idea that Italy has not pandered to this desire to be modern (except with it’s furniture and fashion and cars, of course). I want everywhere to be a bit like rural Herefordshire – 20 years ago!
I enter. The first place is full of veg. I see signs on the wall for the different sorts of fruit. I see one for eggs. I wander over, looking at all the boxes of veg of various types on the way. I get under the sign and look around. I don’t see eggs. What I do see, of course, are grapes. I had mistaken ‘uva’ for ‘uova’. It’s a bloody ‘o’ is all. I feel stupid but, at least, I didn’t speak to anyone and, so, have ‘got away with it’ (or I would have if I hadn’t mentioned it here).
There’re no eggs in this section of the warehouse. I go, past the tills, to the next section. Here there is wine, cakes, biscuits, etc. I see no eggs. I wander down to the end where there are jams and stuff. I see an assistant who is loading shelves. I ask for uova. She tells me they are held at the till. I see the tills for this section of the warehouse. They are on a semi-circular desk next to the door. I go over. I stand there, proffering my wallet until the slightly-harassed-looking assistant asks what I want. I say I would like a dozen eggs. She gives me two egg-boxes of eggs. They look, well, much like eggs you could find in a supermarket. Will he believe that I didn’t buy them at a supermarket, I wonder?
When I get home, I look at them. On one of the eggs there is, indeed, one of those small wispy hen’s feathers stuck to it. I am beside myself with joy.
When F gets back to my house, I show him the eggs and point out the hen’s feather.
Saturday, we are having Tiramisù