This is the first post from author and designer, Valentina Cirasola who has three blogs all under the same roof to enjoy.Friday Fashion Blog Home Designs Master Blog and The Good Life Blog. I have chosen this post to start Valentina’s series as I found this ritual fascinating and will be trying the technique with our next bottle of cheap red plonk… plus I do like fennel to eat.
Is There A Trick in Fennel And Wine? (2011) -Valentina Cirasola
My grandfather was a landowner, he cultivated some of his land for vegetables and fruit and some as vineyard. He exported part of his wine production to France to blend with French wines; he sold the rest locally and kept some for his own consumption. There was a trick to his wine drinking, an ancient rituals that belonged to every seasoned man in Puglia before drinking a red wine.
I am not really sure who invented it, even though I call it my grandfather’s wine trick.
There were a few steps to follow for the trick to work well. First there was a selection of a perfect fennel stalk. The men blew a few times into the hole of the stalk to make sure there was enough suction through the hole. After that, with a knife, they filed down sharp edges of the fennel stalk to make it into a perfect straw device.
When everything was to their satisfaction, they set under the portico, at the rustic table with the clay jug of red wine always on the floor by their feet, ready to enjoy the hot Summer breeze and the tasty meal their women had prepared.
This ritual is still found in Puglia, where some wines are so strong they can be cut with a scissor. Putting a fennel stalk to soak in the wine jug will change the flavor of the wine, but if we just want to lighten the flavor of the wine and make it slightly sweet, we put a fennel stalk in the wine glass and drink out of the stalk as if it was a straw. The taste of the wine passing through the fennel stalk is so incredibly different and refreshing!
Of course, this practice is good for a house wine, or for a not very expensive wine, please don’t do this to a $500.00 wine.
After the perfect straw was made, the bulb and the green fronds were kept for cooking.
(Photo right found on: http://fitlife.tv/benefits-juicing-fennel)
Fennel belongs in the family of carrot, coriander, dill, parsley and celery, all falling under the Umbelliferous plants, which are those plants with a hollow stem and cluster of flowers coming out of the same stalk. Fennel bulb is a good source of water, good to eat while playing any sports under the sun. Excellent source of vitamin C as antioxidant and fiber to helps reduce high cholesterol and toxins from the colon. It also contains potassium, a precious mineral that helps lower high blood pressure.
As a versatile vegetable it is found in cooking of most countries in the Mediterranean basin mixed in salads or cooked with lamb or mussels. Fennel baked or grilled with cheese becomes a super pasta dishes or a delicious sandwich.
The green leaves are edible; they are very good with eggs, or egg frittata. However you like to cook a fennel, it will be a surprisingly good dish.
Fennel has been around since ancient Greece and Rome, revered for its medicinal and culinary properties. Greek mythology holds interesting beliefs and stories. The Gods at the Olympus brought knowledge to people in a fennel stalk. Good, I know that’s a myth, but perhaps all the healthy properties of the fennel have an impact on the health of the brain in retaining knowledge.
In the hot Pugliese summers every trick to cool the bodies down is a good trick! It always fascinated me to watch men going through the ritual of finding a good fennel stalk.
Now, the ritual continues with me. The guests at my table are always surprised and puzzled on why I do that, but they do enjoy the ritual and enjoy listening to the stories of my traditions, as far as liking the fennel, people who don’t come from Mediterranean basin have difficult time accepting its flavor. Ciao, Valentina
Copyright © 2011 Valentina Cirasola All Rights Reserved
About the book
This book is a travel narrative of one trip To Puglia I organized with American friends and curious travelers willing to explore, learn, experience, taste and dream in a land they had never visited before and in a language totally foreign to them. A wheel of new emotions opened up before their eyes, they tried food didn’t even know existed, learned to cook in ancient kitchens; they learned to appreciate the nightlife, learned to live without phones, watches and technologies; copied Italian fashion, learned about traditions, rituals, country and folk celebrations; they all tried to learn local dialects and some succeeded well. Their perspective to life was forever changed.
One of the reviews for the book
Teagan Sparklingly Atmospheric January 6, 2019
I received this book as a gift. It’s a delightful collection of travel notes. The author’s sparkling personality is evident. The travelogue feels like warmly told tales. It truly is a treat. The author lets you experience the warmth, beauty, and “romance” of less famous parts of Italy, as via her descriptions and photographs, she takes you with her on the adventure she lived. Through this book you can visit an Italy you probably never knew existed. Ciao!
Read the reviews and buy the book in Kindle and Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Road-Top-World-Stories-Puglia-ebook/dp/B07RHRZG4P
Also by Valentina Cirasola
Paperbacks are available on Barnes and Noble
and Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Valentina-Cirasola/e/B0031A02H2
About Valentina Cirasola
I am Valentina, Italian born, my hometown is Bari the capital of Puglia region. I was born into a family of artists, designers and food connoisseurs. When I moved away from my family and started to cook for myself out of necessity, it was as if by miracle, all those years watching, eating and tasting translated into doing. I recalled the perfection how every dish was supposed to look and taste. Watching my family and eating good food every day, gave me the expertise of a professional chef. I had the first funny episode in my cooking life and the only one of this kind: once, I cooked spaghetti without adding water in the pot and of course it was as if I had started firecrackers in my kitchen.
Today, living in America, among many things, I spread lightheartedness and joy, while passing my notions of good life and good health through eating real food. Through public speaking and appearances, I educate and inspire people to eat real food and think of cooking not as a chore but a fun moment of the day. Pour yourself a glass of wine, put on your favorite music or TV program and start cooking with joy, then set your table in a harmonious way, sit down and enjoy the product of your cooking whether there is a family or not eating with you. You are important and your soul will rejoice if you pay attention to it.
I am a passionate cook, avid reader, speak four languages and I trot the world. I also take interest in cuisines of the world and I am especially interested in food in the history. These are all the pleasurable parts of my life that have prompted me to start writing books.
However, my main profession is in interior designing with a special focus upon Kitchens. What a better designer than the ones who cook! My passions are showing up in every aspect of my life. I have been in business as a certified interior designer since 1990, working in my company Valentina Interiors & Designs and have served a variegated group of fun people in Europe and in the United States. To remodel homes and to turn unattractive spaces into castles is the specialty of my business, but to design kitchens and wine grottos is my love, as you can imagine. Those are the rooms of a home that make people feel good.
One of the most fundamental areas in people’s lives is the HOME. Home is where people return to relax; a place that props anyone up in time of crisis. It is the center of everything and a lot of the answers to questions of life are there. In simple words, I love to harmonize people’s lives by finding their excellence, creating their energy with colors and adding beauty, while designing their palates as well. I care that everyone deserves to live in beauty and harmony.
Previous the interior design business, I was a fashion designer and owned my Atelier Valentina from where I created original one of a kind fashion. Now, so many years later, I have incorporated fashion in my interior design business and create powerful personal images for high rollers professionals and people who care to look good for themselves first in every moment of the day.
I have loved my professions for so long and never have given signs of wanting to quit. My books are the reflections of my passions. Welcome to my world. Benvenuti nel mio mondo.
Connect to Valentina Cirasola
My thanks to Valentina for permitting me to share some posts from her archives and I hope that you will head over and explore her other posts. Thanks Sally.