Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Joe, Italian lettuce and Italian hoes

Joe (86 and 87) finally showed me the difference between the various Italian lettuces. Most of them are forms of chicory (cicoria, or as Joe pronounces it, cicora). So, what I thought was scariole is cicora rossa, with the equivalent blond variety. Scariole - (or was it Catalogna?) - has dentated leaves, and is similar to Witloof-type chicory in appearance above ground. But the latter is dug up in late October, the root (what Joe calls the "potato") shortened, then re-planted in trenches so that it can be blanched.

I told him I'd found the specimens he'd given me too bitter, and he said you can cook them, so maybe I'll try that. But I suspect they are all an acquired taste, like Brussels Sprouts.

I told him that what I needed was an Italian hoe, but you didn't seem to be able to buy them in England. He went into his shed and came out with this specimen, that he said I could have. He said he'd made it himself from a spade "like we did in the War".

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