'Chiffonade' Chicken-in-the-Garden Soup and How to Barter

| 7/7/2016 9:44:00 AM

An old chicken, and the best of the garden.

Where I grew up, in North Wales, there was a large Italian population, left over from the prisonor-of-war camps during World War II. Many of the Italians had worked on the farms in the area during the war. When the war was over, a lot of them had fallen in love with local women, and decided to stay and make a permanent home there.

One of these men was Guiseppe. He had fallen in love with a Welsh woman, but most definitely not the climate or the cuisine. He built a huge greenhouse in the back garden of his cottage, and there he propagated the flavours of the South: aubergines (eggplant), tomatoes, bell peppers. The kind of vegetables that grow very reluctantly in the rainy hills of Wales.

He often came to our farm, and traded the produce he had grown with my mother. She would take the exotic vegetables that were rare, even in the supermarkets, and in return, we would catch a chicken for his pot.

The only problem was his laid-back southern planning. He would rarely tell us he was coming beforehand. instead, he would walk up the lane, staggering under the weight of a crate of tomatoes, and my mother and I would spend an hour or two chasing the doomed bird around the farm, with Guiseppe’s grandson, little Joey, gleefully "helping."

These chickens lived to lay another day, but they have been warned.

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