Eric: Flour, Cows & Honey

May 27, 2010

Today was a long day. We woke up around 6:40 am so that we could get to the meeting point by 7:30 am, as early departure ensures that we see everything planned. We departed for Siena (1.5 hour by bus), where we visited Molino Parri, a flour milling company that has been in business since 1700.

Well, obviously they have made quite a few changes since 1700, as Molino Parri is now a technologically advanced mill, completely run using electricity. The owner did show us the old mill though. As often emphasized, the mill produces high-quality flour without using any chemical additives, unlike some other companies and those in the states. Molino Parri uses the best grain available, tests the content of protein and other component in the flour, then adjusts the content according to the clients’ need by mixing different ones together.

We then headed to Valdichiana, where the famous cow breed of Chianine is found. The Chianine breed is one of the most important bovine breeds in Italy, and is regarded as one of the highest quality beef there is. The cows are easily recognizable by their porcelain white coats, and are only fed grass, instead of animal powders other people may use to save money.

The cows mooed really loudly when we walked in (yes, cows in Italy do moo like any other kinds of cows), even though we had no idea why. We were invited into the owners’ house for a little snack, which turned out to be more than a little, as we got plenty of sweet things that were extremely tasty (there’s a pattern here…).

We were a little bit off-schedule at this time, so we were given one hour to have lunch in the town of Lucignano, which happened to be holding a medieval fair called “Maggiolata.” We didn’t really feel much celebration, as the time we got there was pretty much the resting time. In Italy, most shops open at around 7 or 8:30 in the morning, close at 1:30 pm for a break, and re-open again at around 3:3o pm. Final closing time of the day varies. We managed to find a small restaurant where I got a pretty tasty gnocchi with 4 cheeses.

Later, we went to visit a local honey producer. As hard as it is believe, the 73-year-old owner has been working with bees since he was 7, and had been stung multiple times a day since he started working. He explained to us that human really doesn’t do much in the process of producing honey. All he does is to provide the model for the bees to build their beehives, and collect the honey after it is made.

The 3 places we visited all had one thing in common: they all believe that food should be produced and presented the way nature has it, and no artificial addition should be added for any purposes. Oh what a busy week, I am really looking forward to weekend now…


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