Once the cold and snowy winter ended all the people were extremely thankful, as they started a new life walking out of the old farmhouses on the surì – places blessed by the sun – and regained contact with the vineyards, checking out for eventual damages, straightening unstable supports starting the pruning and so forth.
During these moments it was nice to look around, enjoy the opening of the new spring season so evident in all its signs, thousands of buds, new green grass and leaves.
It was necessary to take a breath, rest a bit and you could see between the grapevines the newly born fresh and tender sarsèt. We used to fill our baskets and then take them home to be cleaned and washed in water in our spacious and cozy kitchen.
Who among those who are no longer young, doesn’t remember those big kitchens in the old farmhouses?
All the family on the farmhouse used to meet in the kitchen for many different reasons and sit around the big heavy table full of wormholes for its age, next to the stove where something was always cooking for the people or for the animals.
Everyone used to sit around the chimney that was still lighted during those first spring days where grandparents used to love to hang around, working with something on their lap.
Those spacious kitchens – what a pity to see the modern small kitchenettes, which are the witness that cooking is no longer the heart of the family! – in those big kitchens, we used to sit to eat and taste with a such a pleasure this dish with sarsèt, hard-boiled eggs and spring onions, all fresh and simple products of our land.
At times, and this didn’t happen often because it was bought at the Saturday market in Alba in piazza Rossetti and it always cost so much, people used to add to this salad some tuna fish; and all the young rascals used to go fetch the pieces before they got lost with the rest.
What to prepare
- un dianèt (a terracotta pot)
Winter makes most of the farming work stop and as soon as the bad weather ends, walking out on the surì was considered (just as it is now for us) a direct and delicate encounter with nature.
Sunny days helped people regain acquaintance with the farmhouse, stopping in the vineyards to check eventual damages the plants suffered during the winter months, to plan the work that was to be done immediatley and fill the baskets with fresh greens.
Then the salad was cleaned in the big kitchens and seasoned in the dianèt.
Close at hand there were also fresh eggs to boil, a can of tuna fish, salt, oil and the siulòt (spring onions).
Our ancestors were considered half Ligurian also in their eating style: sarsèt, spring onions and eggs were very good with the Ligurian salt, oil and tuna fish.
A dish with poor ingredients, yet rich of genuineness, delighted us when we encountered it with the sweet scent of violets.
Photo Credit: Giorgio Minguzzi