Given the Cold Shoulder

This week I received two wonderful gifts, both of them being meat. It’s hunting season here in Abruzzo and as I said in an article I wrote for Italy magazine back in 2014, here in Italy hunting is seen more as a way of life than a pastime. You can read the article here. The cacciatori (hunters) that gather together dressed in their hi-vis waistcoats are hunting solely for food not sport and mostly their intended quarry is cinghiale (wild boar). Most of the year the boar are hidden away but this time of the year the boar move closer to towns as their food supplies start to dwindle. They can be a nuisance as not only are they dangerous they have a liking for anything sweet and two-years ago a large male decided to feast upon the pomegranates in our garden. Needless to say we let him take his fill.

The sound of shots ricochet on the morning air as the sound of excited dogs yelp in search of this highly prized meat: so highly prized few hunter’s will share their quarry. That’s why this week I was so pleased with my gifts. My friend Massimo gave me 2 kilos of diced boar and another friend Nino told me he’d left some down at the local bar for me. My surprise when I went to collect what I expected to be another couple of kilo’s of meat was evident when I was handed a whole frozen shoulder and shank.


So what to do with it?

I Googled lots of recipes and took away some ideas and decided to roast it for a lunch with friends at the weekend. So after it had defrosted the only container large enough to accommodate the meat was our laundry basket, once inside I made a marinade which consisted of rosemary, sage, cloves and  black peppercorns, some star anise, garlic, honey and English mustard powder. Then I added 1 litre of white wine and 3 litres of red wine and left it to infuse with the flavours for 24 hours.


The next step was to remove the meat and pat it dry before adding it to a roasting tin and placing an orange, some garlic and rosemary in with it before sealing with aluminium foil. I’d read that it’s best to start it off for 30 minutes at around 200 degrees then reduce to 180 and give it 40 minutes per kilo and for shoulder an extra 40. So the beast went into the oven.

It roasted slowly and when it was finally served with roast potatoes and veg everyone gave appreciative nods and smiles as they tucked into it. There’s was so much that what was left was divided up ready to be turned into a tasty roast boar ragú.



No Clouds and Kitchen Crocodiles

The weather has been quite nice of late, we’ve had clear skies without any traces of clouds so of course I’ve been taking advantage of the chance to do a little sunbathing to get the winter white flesh a healthier colour. I’m not really good at lying in the sun doing nothing and without clouds to watch it can be a bit dull just lying there.


So with the iPod breaking the stillness of the day up with tunes shuffling I lie and catch a few rays. The first song to blast out over the Italian countryside is, Think Again by 1980’s pop-combo, ABC, in fact the tunes today have a decidedly 80’s vibe. Mel and Kim make an appearance as does King and Tears for Fears. It’s only when Italian metal band, Linea 77, featuring Tiziano Ferro,  thrash the tranquillity with their single Sogni Resplendono,  that I decide it’s time to stop lying around.


I watch as resident lizard, ‘stumpy’ patrols in my orto, so named as he’s lost his tail, and decide it’s time to grab a cold drink, I wander into the kitchen just as Olive chases a large lizard through the door and watch as it dives for cover under the fridge, but not until our black terrier has nipped off the end of its tail. I do think if you had a phobia to lizards that central Italy wouldn’t be for you, as there’s so many of the emerald green reptiles here.

A few years ago I was at my friends house in Casoli, and somehow a baby lizard had managed to get through a fly screen, both us being a tad squeamish meant that the operation to remove the small visitor was an hilarious operation, and we then referred to it as the great crocodile hunt. So Now I’m left here on ‘crocodile’ watch as a tail end wriggles about on the floor.

The OH takes the dogs out and I settle down to work and look up and there’s the crocodile wandering across my kitchen floor, so with the yard-brush I coax it towards the front door and watch as it runs away to the safety of the grass.


OH returns and I tell the tale of the great crocodile hunter that retrieved it from under the fridge and sent it off on its way. At that moment, Alf our lanky juvenile red-legged dog chases another lizard in through the door and this new reptilian visitor takes safety under the kitchen units.

Oh-hum, that’s me in great crocodile hunter guise again.

Burning Bales

We’ve had a few problems these past few nights with cinghiale (wild boar) coming down from the hills to forage for the local produce due to be harvested, part of this is possibly because they know it’s harvest time and pomegranates and sweet corn are ripe and in part to it being hunting season, so many become displaced by hunters; for hunters please read, nutters in high-vis jackets taking pot shots at anything that moves, including each other. So far this year, the tally of hunters accidentally shot in Italy by fellow hunters is 29.

Last night I was talking to Loui, he told me that they’ll leave a straw bale burning outside the farm entrance and at the rear to deter the marauding hogs, he also warned me to keep an eye on the dogs. “Would you like a bale of straw to burn?” he asked me, I declined his offer, worried that knowing my luck I’d set fire to the car and eventually blow up the top of the lane, leading to a major fire that will wipe out the olive groves surrounding us. “Well, you’d best mark the road.” I gave him a puzzled look and he thought for a while, then acted out, peeing in a straight line. I smiled, nodded my head and responded, “Ho capito.”

So today as gunshots crack the early autumn air, every time I’ve felt the need to pee I’ve been up at the top of the lane, keeping a keen eye out for passing traffic as I pee in a straight line, creating an invisible barrier across the land that leads down to our house.


  Did it work? I’m not entirely sure, but we didn’t get a visit from the boar last night, and had a barking dog free night.

  Or maybe word has got out in the wild pig population, that there’s a strange man making a fence out of pee, so they’ve decided that running the  gauntlet with the nutters with guns is a saner option.

Picture via,