Food & Drink
Today, in Italy, no one plants loquat trees (or ‘medlars’) anymore, which are evergreen trees with extraordinarily fragrant flowers. Forgotten! Bees adore them for their sweetness. For them they are the first flowers of the season, the first ‘fruit’ of the new year.
The fruit pulp is juicy and soft, a little acidic. The core is not safe to eat.
In the village where I grew up, many houses had two medlars in the garden. I remember the story they would tell me as a child: medlars cannot be alone, they must get married otherwise they will not survive. I still want to believe it is so and I am not interested in pollination theories and other truths…
Loquats are hardly known and, when known, are rarely liked. I find them delicious and I adore their pale saffron colour.
You should not buy them in markets because they are rarely good and ripe there. I know, not everyone knows peasants who’d lie, but when you taste them after you have picked them with your own hands, passion will bloom. Medlars are no longer cultivated because strawberries and cherries arrive shortly after, and at that point no one would buy them anymore.
Broad bean, loquats, ricotta cheese and wild herb salad
1 kg of broad beans
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
100g of ricotta cheese
5 mint leaves
the juice of half a lemon
a bouquet of aromatic plants and spontaneous salads
1) Shell the broad beans, scald them for a few seconds in boiling water and remove their skin.
2) Season the ricotta separately with salt, pepper, oil and finely chopped mint.
3) Wash, arrange and dry off the wild herbs (or, alternatively, rocket).
4) Peel the loquats, remove the core and the skin that remains attached to the fruit.
5) Break them carefully with your hands into 8 parts.
6) In a bowl mix the loquats with the beans, oil, salt and pepper.
7) Place on a little flared plate; put flakes of ricotta cheese on top and finish with the seasoned salad, just before serving the dish.
A disarming and ‘naïve’ salad, but splendid for colours and scents.
Bees love it.