Of missing Lamb and Legs in Tuscany

Posted by Kitara Julian On 9:52 AM

More tales from Tuscany (see earlier posts, July 27 and 31).

One of my duties for the owner (whose villa, a restored 13th century farmhouse, we were housesitting) was to keep track of the sheep and lambs. I counted them every night. One day, a lamb was missing. I counted again, but there were only eight lambs, not nine.
Maybe it had gotten lost? Next evening, again only eight. Next day I asked one of the sons (from the family who looked after the property while the owner was away), “Cos e successo? (“What happened?”).
Il lupo a mangiare”, was his reply. Lupo? A wolf? That was a surprise; his father, Signor, had told me when we arrived there were no wolves any longer in this region.

Anyway, to celebrate the success of keeping the Wild Boars at bay (see previous post) and to mark my 65 birthday Signora said she was going to arrange a Tuscan banquet up at our place, for family and amici.
Our farmhouse/villa still had the traditional Tuscan outdoor ovens, one for baking bread, the other for roasting.
On the day of festivities, aromas of roasting meat, herbs, spices and garlic filled the air. It was water-mouthing. Because of my passioni, gastranomiche y curiosita alimentari, I helped Signora with pelare, triturare e affetare i vari ingredienti.

When we sat down to dinner that night, Signor started to carve the beautiful roast – it was a lamb. They asked what piece I’d like, and so I requested a leg. La dona, Signora, replied, “Scuse, Enrico, no legs”.
A roast lamb without legs? That was strange. But I had another cut from the roast, and it was absolutely delicious. What a memorable banquet with famiglia and amici. Our feast was accompanied by their own vino di casa, including Grappa; the venerable Brunello (which put this region on the map); and vin santo, along with a surprise birthday cake for Enrico, covered with profiteroles.

The fairy-tale like glow of fireflies danced all ‘round us. There was singing, speeches and countless toasts: to the “Cuoco, Mama”, to “Papa”, to “Enrico”, to “Amici”, and, to “Brunello!” It was a balmy and magical August evening.
The mystery of the missing lamb was never solved. But, the mystery of the missing lamb legs? We quickly learned that for centuries the country people of this region have had to use all their ingenuity to survive. It was the custom of Signora to sell the lamb legs to a gourmet restaurant in the nearby town. Struggling economy, you know! Ciao, Henri

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