Alessandra’s Reflections: Fett’unta (Oily Slice)

Growing up in Italy, I had the fortune of spending long summers in the countryside.

To escape the torrid heat of the city, our mother would take us to visit grandmother; from Florence, we would move to the much cooler, beautifully green village in Tuscany, where our nonna resided. School permitting, we greatly enjoyed the grape harvest, in September, when the ‘essential help’ we, kids, provided was jumping into the tuns to trample on the harvested grapes. FUN! We went to most the yearly events that kept us close to the outdoors life we loved.

It is in the countryside that I learned that a delicious snack doesn’t have to cost much at all or be tremendously complicated to make.

During those beautifully carefree summers, I witnessed the making of some of the most mouthwatering food I have ever tasted! Everything was made from scratch, with the natural ingredients provided by nonna’s garden, orchard, hen-house, sheepfold or pigpen.

Some of the most humble, rustic dishes, over the years, and with many influences from our ever-smaller world, have become more sophisticated, and quite costly, in Italian restaurants around the planet. The original, ancient versions, teach us that a snack or meal, does not need any added frills to be delicious, healthy, and cheap!

Today I will recall the festive gatherings we enjoyed every year for the ‘fett’unta.’

In the fall, after olives are harvested, they are brought to the mill, where a big stone wheel grinds them. The olives’ first squeeze is cause for celebration at the mill; farmers and their neighbors gather around a big rustic table, to taste, for the first time, the thick, spicy, green liquid, one of the many nature’s bounties for which Tuscany is famous.

Thick slices of country bread are grilled over embers, cloves of garlic are rubbed over the warm bread, the new oil is then poured and spread over the grilled slices of bread, for the delight of all participants to the feast!

It is still possible to enjoy a delicious fett’unta, even if not at an old mill in the Tuscan countryside!

What we need:

good bread, best if it is country style. Delicious if whole wheat
peeled garlic cloves
virgin olive oil, better if it is cold pressed
salt to taste

What to do:

Cut the bread into slices of about three-eights of an inch
Grill (best) or toast the slices
Rub the garlic onto the warm slices
Pour and spread the oil over the slices
ENJOY one of nature’s simplest, most delicious gifts.

A presto,