I totally judged this book by its cover, its typeface, its illustrations, and the fact that I'd found it in a gondola.
Il Quaderno dei Frutti Spontanei is a collection of "atavistic" recipes and notes on how to use and cook with foraged food. I've been browsing through its pages for ideas all spring and summer long, but it wasn't until this September that I found its best use.
I'd been, in fact, looking forward to the berry season (I had so many plans this year), but was disappointed when in August we went picking elderberries and then blackberries and found none: a prolonged drought and a late summer heat-wave had caused them to dry up and shrivel on the trees and bushes. All we picked was a meagre handful of blackberries - too few to make a torta or a preserve. Enough to make ... what?
This is when the little cookbook I'd bought on a whim in Venice came in handy: enough to infuse vinegar! I steeped the berries in white wine vinegar, and when ten days later I drained the berries out, the vinegar had turned a beautiful ruby red color.
My blackberry-infused vinegar has a mild berry flavor vaguely reminiscent of balsamic vinegar. The booklet suggests that it be used on fish and salads, but we've found that it also perfectly complements our grilled friggitelli peppers and bell peppers.
And we're still exploring: this little atavistic recipe has given me a completely different and new vision of vinegar!