A brief history of our PDO
Autumn arrives with its long shadows over the silent days left behind.
My mother looks up at the sky: a flock of birds is passing by, she watches them fly away and silently bids them farewell, pondering the long journey they might embark on. A gentle breeze blows, and she tightens the edges of her jacket around her fingers to shield herself a little. She shivers, but she smiles. She accepts what heralds the gentle change underway. She continues with her bucket of feed for the donkeys, stomping the ground with her boots, counting the last clusters of blue Speedwell flowers and yellow dandelions, smelling the damp earth and tree barks. She strokes the ears of the two Amiatine donkeys as they eat. Then she puts her hands in her pockets, feeling the knotted texture, the fresh skin of the first chestnuts collected in the nearby grove. She smiles again. She enjoys returning home, but without hurrying. Tonight she’ll cut the fruits and roast them on the stove. She has just enough for each of your grandchildren.
Tomorrow and the days to come, she’ll check if new chestnuts have fallen. Then, finally, the season will oil its gears, and she’ll come with the basket, involving the children.
My father walks through the woods wearing his worn-out vest. His hands are in his pockets because his knuckles are all cracked from the wind and the early cold. Yet, his hands don’t completely shelter in the pockets, because he has already filled them with all the chestnuts they can hold. With his long fingers, he touches them and assesses their compactness. It wouldn’t be strange if at some point he stopped, pulled out a fruit from his pocket, and admiring it as if it were a diamond, said, “Look at this: it’s perfect.” It wouldn’t be strange, and indeed, that’s what he does. He had already sensed it was a perfect chestnut by touch, but perhaps he was satisfied with the idea of observing it in the warm and fading light of autumn.
– “Watch where you step, or you’ll stumble” – she’ll say, smiling, as she effortlessly surpasses me.
I’m not as skilled at walking in the woods, but perhaps it’s also because I don’t feel this visceral belonging to the land that characterizes my father and mother. There’s something, maybe I don’t understand it, and it has nothing to do with churches and bell towers. It’s about the land itself, filled with roots anchored to suck wildly nourishment and water. It’s about the difficult-to-cultivate land, crooked, hilly, or where ridge chestnuts grow. Because we have few chestnuts on flat land. There hasn’t been an autumn in my life where I haven’t seen how naturally, deep down, my parents become creatures that exist for the forest. They stand there, waiting for the course of the seasons, hoping that everything goes as they’ve been praying for months. They repeat how much it rained or how dry it was. They get angry at how much the plants suffered. They discuss firewood for the hearth. They make predictions about the sweetness of the flour, which will usually be ready after All Saints’ Day.
To put it this way, they seem like simple people. And yes, indeed they are. It’s never about appearing different or better; they have a straightforward approach to the raw materials they deal with. They are genuinely passionate.
They have made a sort of pact with the community, based on the superior genuineness of the product.
They gather, buy, offer, and work only with the best of what the territory provides, sometimes with a certain frugality. For two people who think in this way, labeling their chestnut flour as PDO means having their tenacity recognized with which they have lived their lives. Even last autumn came and brought its refreshment. It listened to us, brought a semblance of respite.