How do I love town markets! Those that are still held once a week, those where the food counters are always the same for years, the only survivors from the invasion – albeit shy in the province – of cloths and junk made in China.
Fruits and vegetables, often picked up in the area, are brought to the market with the van or the “ape cross” and sold directly so, without being even discharged, sometimes saved by the hot sun thanks to a large umbrella unlikely fastened to the cockpit. The cheese maker, who always seems to have just descended from the pasture, exhibits his cheeses in tiny wooden cabinets with the door made of thin net. The olive oil maker – on whose counter shaky castles of olives in brine jars tower – offers small samples of bread and oil pierced by toothpicks. And the butcher, with his shiny truck garnished by curtains inevitably in white and red stripes, who sells with sober presumption a few big cuts of meat and some paunchy homemade sausages.
Everyone knows each other, by name or by sight. The counters where to buy, if you are a stranger, are generally those where more people are queuing, better if they are old people.
Last Thursday, the market day from time immemorial in Cervo, I could not withstand all the summer fruits that practically rolled down from a small blue ape cross. I bought plums, plums, cherries, apricots and peaches. A jubilation of colors that hides the very flavour of the warm sun.
And if the opportunity makes the thief, the impulsive shopping makes the creative chef.
So back home I went to browse all the books of Ligurian recipes scattered here is there in the various bookshelves, all quite tired old editions of my ancestors, looking for some fruit-based sweet to cook and tell here. Because, I admit, I also wanted to take some nice photos of the fruits to publish.
It did not happen to me right away, because it is not a well-known recipe, but in the end here it is: the “giardiniera dolce”. Virtually a Ligurian version of the English pies.
It’s a summer fruit pie made of a shortbread shell with a filling of mixed fruits slightly cooked and flavored with rhum and mixed candied fruits.
Just for fun instead of making a single cake I made many small cakes using star-shaped ramekins. In the end, this has turned out to be the most creative thing I’ve done, since I have caught the recipe in the repertoire of traditional cooking. But this is fine, it was a new adventure for me anyway.
It is a dessert to serve cool, very good if accompanied by an ice cream ball and, therefore, perfect for closing a summer dinner. The proof of the pudding is in the eating!
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