Where gladioli and water-mint grow
You are sitting in the middle of thyme! " Startled, Melanie scrambled to her feet, a piece of cheese in one hand and a mug of wine in the other hand. We, ten women from Germany between the ages of 20 and 60 and Marinella Klug, our "herbalist", are taking a picnic break between ancient olive trees. Soft hills as far as the eye can see, birds singing from all sides and this sweet scent of the Robinien along the way - pure romance, so no reason to abuse the thyme so much. After all, it not only tastes delicious in the pasta sauce, but as a tea is also a medicine for bronchitis and colds, as Marinella explains.
Blossom from the meadow goat beard
A week long We want to hike through the mountains of their Ligurian homeland with the hearty, down-to-earth Italian, gather herbs and cook together - after all, the traditional dishes of this region are regarded as highlights of the Mediterranean cuisine. The 54-year-old grew up in the picture-book village of Apricale, where we are also staying in apartments this week. Even as a child she collected wild and medicinal plants like other Playmobil figures; Marinella learned languages as an au pair in England, Germany and France, cooking at work in international restaurants. "I've learned most of what I know," Marinella says cheerfully; She only studied phyto- and aromatherapy at the Heilpraktikerschule and the Kurator-Institut in southern Germany. In Stade, where she has been living with her family for nearly twelve years, she also teaches languages, cooking and herbal courses, lectures or organizes trips to her homeland.
Mariella knows every herb
She once had love to Germany, her "passion" is still Liguria. After a picnic, we walk along a small river in a single file, Marinella always walking in walking boots to the long black skirt, and then on small paths steadily upwards to her rustico, her mountain lodge. Again and again she stops and explains us what is growing along the way, she knows the names in German, Italian and Latin and every herb has a little story: Frauenfarm, for example, is fabulously suitable for the production of hair conditioners; Mint (Calamintha) promotes romantic love, Ingrassa Porco, however, much more handfesteres, as the German name clearly says: "pork loin maker" is the name of the herb. None among us who stealthily stowed a few stalks Calamintha in her backpack; In addition, the most beautiful bouquets of thyme, mint and sage, lemon balm and garlic mace, rosemary and wild fennel are gradually being added.
In the brick oven of Rusticos A fire is already burning as we set out after a siesta to process our yield. In the small dark kitchen Marinella prepares yeast and short crust pastry with Hilde and Christina. Scarlett reaps amused looks as she cuts the anchovies for the tomato sauce with a knife and fork, so that her fingers just do not smell like fish; Outside in the sun, the rest of the troop is gathering huge quantities of herbs for the Torta Verde, an appetizer made of vegetables, herbs and eggs, covered with shortcrust pastry, plucked and chopped. The dip in focaccia, the "oil bread", includes thyme, wild fennel, pimpinelle and rosemary; in the savory tomato sauce, the most important thing about the Ligurian pizza, in addition Scarlet's anchovy quantities of oregano. By the way, Marinella also explains how we can make herbal creams and tinctures, for example a medicine for stomach problems: pluck wormwood or yarrow, chop them and put them in a glass. Fill up with vodka, grain or grappa and let it rest for about three weeks. Then filter and fill in small dark bottles with a pipette. Also helps if you ate too much pizza and focaccia.
The next day picks up a young woman with the minibus in the piazza of Apricale. We drive north, in tight turns up the mountain to Triora, in the "witch village" in the Argentinatalatal. Soon there will be no more silver olive groves outside, but we will see medlar trees and figs, holm oaks and chestnuts, tree berries with beautiful white flowers, pinkish rock roses and blue rattle flowers, even bluer than the sky above us. What a contrast then to Triora: dark streets and vaults and an ancient-looking smoke smell in the air. Although the medieval village is considered a gem of art history, but causes in most of us violent oppression. During the Inquisition, a group of women were blamed for famine, declared witches, imprisoned, tortured and burned.I almost feel their fear and their pain, and the others are happy when we finally step out of the narrow streets in the sun again. More interesting than the Witch Museum and various souvenirs we find the three panels at Bottega delle Streghe, a little house outside the village, where the witches allegedly met with the devil. Among other things, it explains what these "witches" really were - wise women who made remedies with herbs.
Before we last night cook a big farewell dinner, there is another trip to the city. Fridays is big market in Ventimiglia - last chance to buy souvenirs and presents. But before we throw ourselves into piles of fashionable leather bags, rummage in the mountains of cloths and underwear and try summer dresses en masse, we focus our attention on vegetables. We buy green and purple asparagus, aubergines and lettuce, and tons of apricots, strawberries and cherries disappear into our pockets and stomachs. Then, together with Marinella, we go to the fish market, where, after much scrutiny and negotiation, she buys Merlano, small Mediterranean fish about the size of our herring, but fortunately almost no bones. Filled with sage, rosemary or thyme, turned into flour and then fried in olive oil in a large pan, they are the main course of our menu. The credo of Marinellas, a convinced follower of the Slow Food movement, proves once again to be correct: "creative cooking, eating together and above all enjoying are among the most beautiful things in life!" The hustle and bustle of the "Riviera of Flowers", as we saw on the way home from Triora, does not miss us up here in seclusion - already one week Apricale has become "our" village. The departure is very difficult, but I take with me a lot: the memory of our baseless laugh, for example, when Marinella could only climb the mountain backwards, because she had such calf cramps. The revived experience of how nice it is to be on foot and constantly having intense odors in your nose. And, not to forget, the Posy Calamintha.
To the recipes:
Hefefladen mit Kräutern (Focaccia) Ligurian Pizza (Sardeneira)
If you prefer the north, you can also look for wild herbs near the Baltic Sea. Krämergarten Pommerland offers herbal courses for women in the Lassaner Winkel in front of the Usedom peninsula. Information: www.kraeutergarten-pommerland.de or Tel. 03 83 74/806 49. E-Mail: [email protected]
You can find further information about this and other trips with Marinella Klug (culture, languages, music) at www.incammino.de or Tel. 041 41/92 16 55. E-Mail: [email protected]