Our little corner of Tuscany, the Lunigiana, was known for its tough resistance in WWII. In fact, the territory in the nearby Emiglia Romagna and its rough and tough mountain characters are celebrated in the book and movie “Love and War in the Apennines.” The author, Eric Newby himself bought a house in Fosdinovo in the Lunigiana.
There’s a resistance museum here, filled with the latest technology to give you an idea of what lives of the locals were like at the time. They weren’t, it reminds us, fighting for “politics,” they were fighting to keep their own way of life.
Reminders of the war are all around us, in the form of little memorials of folks who gave their lives to the cause. In fact, our own “apartment” became an attic home for the woman who now lives below us, when she had to give up her rooms to the Germans to avoid exposing her husband as a member of the resistance.
Stories of war time are not infrequently heard in these parts. Yesterday, as we basked amongst the dregs of a feast, huddled from the sudden rain which fell after the dinner celebrating Sacro Cuore, we heard an interesting one which, of course, featured food.
One of the reasons the tough terrain like we have here is difficult to conquer is that the clever locals in places like the Lunigiana know the resources provided by nature. It’s darn tough to cut those supply lines. It’s also quite amazing that the all-conquering US army hasn’t learned about these attributes, but nevermind.
In any case, it’s only the industrial processed foods that could be put at arms length from the rural populations due to war. So, when the war ended, as the story goes, “mom” bough an enormous bag of sugar, the only thing she lacked during the war years, and took to hiding the lot in all the furniture. Little bags of it went in the sofa, the overstuffed chairs, the mattress. She would never go though that shortage again!
So when mom died and the kids gathered at the house to discuss what to do with it, they plopped down on the sofa. It was hard as a rock. They found mom’s sugar, which had turned into one giant lump of crystals where she hid it in the sofa, much to the chagrin of the fannies that found it.
And that was 1968.
Processed food. Get over it. It’ll get you in the end.