When we came back home last week from our six-week trip to the States, our fridge was totally empty, but we weren't entirely without food. When you live in the country, the land is one of the greatest assets, and savvy country people always know how to eat from it. I'm still learning, but I'd planted my garden knowing that it would be neglected for several weeks in the summer, and I was happy to find some food among the weeds.
The green beans, it seemed, hadn't suffered too badly. I'd planted them a week before leaving, and they were just sprouting when I said good-bye. When we returned, they'd become bushes, with their stringy fruits hidden away under their leaves. One side of the patch had been invaded by hungry beetles, so I had to harvest all the healthy beans and pull up the plants to prevent the infestation from spreading. Still, a basket-full of beans that lasted several meals wasn't a bad harvest.
Also, on the kitchen counter a kilo of anchovies I'd cured in salt before leaving was now ready. Or to be more exact, the kilo of anchovies that had been forgotten on the kitchen counter instead of storing it in a cool place, and had been giving me nightmares throughout our trip: it was my first attempt at curing fish, and what if I'd dones something wrong, and found rotting fish and maggots all over my kitchen instead? I didn't, and as it turned out, my kitchen counter grew a harvest of cured anchovies in my absence, which seems almost miraculous.
One of the best dinners I made since coming back, we all agreed, came from the sea and the land: focaccia with red onions, anchovies and our neighbor's fresh oregano. And green beans in a salad.