This year the mushroom harvest has been excellent, and last month we explained why this is so important to our area in many ways. Our fertile land however, generously offers us treasures of all kinds, all the year around, and there are people amongst us who, appreciating the incredible value of our surrounding nature, have chosen to enhance and showcase these products, some of which, up until recent times, where hardly considered any more.
Adriana Giulianotti, who runs a shop in the centre of Borgotaro, is one of these far-sighted people. She started up her business in 1981, after having worked in a local mushroom processing plant, where she learned how to deal with them in all their forms. In fact she specialised in mushroom processing in the first years of her activity, buying from local searchers and either selling them fresh, transforming them into jars of delicious produce in oil, or drying them out with her dessicator. Her little spot became THE place to buy one of the most famous products of our territory – but then Adriana began thinking….there were so many other fruits in the woods which nobody bothered to pick any more; lots of townsfolk had fruit trees on their land which sometimes give such an abundant harvest, that they didn’t know what to do with it all….
So the resourceful lady started to spread the word – pick whatever it is you have, and bring it to me – I’ll know what to do with it! She told her customers to bring her chestnuts, or any other kinds of nuts, apples, pears, forest fruits, blackthorn fruits used for making liqueur…anything they had to offer. And bring they did, because around here there are still a lot of old family farmhouses set in their pieces of land, some of which also include woods…plus all the keen strollers, who like to scour the bushes and fields for any hidden delicacies. At this point, Adriana was the only one in Borgotaro running a business of this kind, which obviously contributed to an increase in trade – but she didn’t stop there.
Her home at Caffaraccia, a hamlet 8km outside Borgotaro, is surrounded by a considerable amount of land. Adriana put her thinking cap on again, and, bent on developing the organic thread she had initiated, registered the place as as an official enterprise, and set herself to creating a huge vegetable garden of over 1000 square feet, and cultivating just about anything the land could give her. She planted and sowed potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini, runner beans, cabbage, arugula and all kinds of salad leaves, carrots, celery, parsley and herbs in general and so on….the list is never ending. Tending to a garden of these proportions entails a lot of work, but Adriana manages it all alone, in scraps of free time. Yet tending to the garden is not all she does, because she has taken her quest to offer good, natural food to another level; her fresh vegetables make their appearance on the counter of her little shop not only just as they come out of the ground, but also in multiple variations;
She turns out a delicious vegetable sauce, ideal with boiled meats. She makes “giardiniera”, a mixture of veggies cut into small pieces, briefly boiled in vinegar and put into jars filled with the best e.v. olive oil and spices. She treats other vegetables, such as shallots, eggplants and zucchini in the same way, and produces wonderful jams from either her own or acquired fruits. Local cheeses are another feather in her cap, be they made of cow’s or goat’s milk. In fact she keeps a small selection of local produce whenever it is available, brought directly from farmers of the area. One may wonder how she does it all, but Adriana will just shrug her shoulders, say someone had to do it….it simply stems from passion for our territory.
And her passion is paying off, because her customers come from far and wide; Brescia, Bergamo, Milan…clients will travel a long way to buy her typical – and unique products. She regularly sends dried mushrooms to Lugano in Switzerland, and during fairs, when she sets up her colorful, eye-catching stall of goodies, long-standing clients will come from afar in order to buy from her. Needless to say, she also has the custom of locals who pop in for a chat and some fresh fruit and veg, as well as the hoards of tourists during the summer months, all eager to take back a reminder of our delicacies!
In 38 years of trade, Adriana has made a name for herself, and has contributed to make our excellencies known far from home. We hope that others will follow her lead, and continue to appreciate all the goodness of this land.