VEGETARIANS - STOP RIGHT NOW!
Or even those of you who are slightly squeamish...or who think all that meat in the grocery store just magically appears on styrofoam trays! This post is about the reality of life in a farming community, and about the entire circle of life, which is sometimes just a little gruesome for some of us!
Living here in Umbria, and specifically in San Venanzo, we know that almost everything we eat is fresh. So much of our food is locally grown, and what was on the vine this morning will often appear on the dinner table tonight, even for those of us who don't have gardens. In addition to the fruits and vegetables, animals are also grown here...chickens and ducks, pigs and sheep, cows and....pigeons.
We all have our comfort zones, and our ideas of what's edible and what's just gross. I'll eat pork all day long (and my oh my do they know how to do pork in Umbria!), but don't even think about asking me to eat something that was inside that little piggy! No to liver and tripe (stomach lining...ugh!) and tongue and brains. No to testicles from any animal for sure! No, I don't eat bunny rabbits, but I will eat lamb. I can't give you any logical reason for any of it, but that's just the way it is.
Our neighbor Armando raises pigeons, and not to carry messages. He raises them to eat. Seems like a lot of work for such a small meal, but that's okay with him. The other day he brought some pigeons back from the coop and was cleaning them in his garage. I don't know (or want to know) how he killed them, but I do know that just like chickens, and all other fowl, you have to dip them in boiling water to loosen the feathers. After that it's just pluck pluck pluck until the feathers are gone. The finishing touch is the blow torch to singe off the remaining feathers, or stubs of feathers.
Armando said that Giulda (his wife) would clean out the birds and bake them in the oven like chicken, and that each bird would serve two people.
Here are some pictures of the process, well down the page, giving those who don't care to see the pictures plenty of time to click away.....