Tales of a wandering lesbian

Nel Forno a Legna

My first adventure in Fornacci di Barga was to find a wireless internet drive.  It’s just a crazy little jump drive that has a place for a micro card and a sim card.  Plug it in, and you get internet.  Lovely.

I asked if there was anything I could pick up while I was out.  Yes, some bread.  Seems easy enough, right?  Not so much.  On the way from the airport, the first day, we stopped at the grocery store.  My one task was to grab some bread.  “Brown bread” said Sandra, “cooked in the oven.”  Now, I don’t know about you, but when my family picks up freshly baked bread, we give it a squeeze to make sure it has a good crunch with a nice soft center.  I searched the bread bins (you can’t believe how many different kinds of bread there are) and, after rejecting a flat, tough loaf, I found a nice soft one.

Wrong.  I went back to the bread area with Deb to see what, exactly, I should be looking for.  Well, first, you go to the bread counter, not the bread bins.  Second, you have to know what you’re ordering.  Then they just cut off how ever much you want from these foot-and-a-half long loaves of flat, brown bread.

When I squeezed it, it was clear I had no idea what I was looking for.  Never would I have selected this bread.  However, it makes some of the best toast in the world!  And is great with cheese!  And is just yummy!

So, today when I asked what I could pick up, I wasn’t so excited to hear, “pane cotto nel forno a legna.”  I tried to memorize as much of the phrase as I could, and headed out.  I scoped out the bread shops on the way to the internet place.  There were two.  On the way back, I would pick one and stop.  After success with the computer guys, I was excited to see if I could work out the bread.  I got a good feeling from the first shop, so I stepped in.  Oddly enough, there was almost no bread in the bins.  Perhaps it’s a little late in the day.  I have no idea.  However, these lovely ladies responded brilliantly when I apologized for not being able to speak well in Italian and asked them for “pane cotto nel forno…” – “a Legna,” they supplied.  Si, si!  I was so excited.

“No, non aqui.”  Not here.  Really, in a bread shop.  Maybe it’s because there’s no bread in the shop.  “Dove?”  Where could I find this elusive bread.  One of the women came out from behind the counter and spirited me outside the shop, pointing across the street and telling me to go to the meat shop.  Mind you, this was all in Italian, so I’m fairly sure that’s what she was saying.

I headed across the street, but couldn’t see the meat shop.  I looked back at the bread store, and both women were now standing outside their door, waving me on to the meat shop.  As I entered the shop they celebrated with me.  I had found the Pane, cotto nel forno a legna!

Now, let me just say that, as a vegeterian – even one who isn’t that principled about the thing – the smell that comes out of these meat shops is horrifying to me.  It’s seriously like death.  The case is filled with beautifully presented slices of meatiness, but the smell is tough for me.  Regardless, after another apology, and another request for pane cotto nel forno… “a legna,” came the response, I had my half-loaf of lovely, hard bread.

When I came out of the shop, the bread ladies were still there, waiting to celebrate my success again.  We waived and shouted “CIAO!” across the street at each other.

When I got back home, I relayed this story to Deb who laughed at me when I asked why the bread shop wouldn’t have this type of bread.  Apparently, this is bread cooked elsewhere and brought in.  It’s cooked in a wood oven.  The other bread at the bread shop is not.  That’s a good tip.  So, if you’re looking for hard, flat, brown bread, try the meat shop.

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2 comments

1 Mangia! | Mid Leap { 11.06.09 at 9:29 am }

[…] The cheeses included a mozzarella coated in local herbs, a misto (cow and sheep milk together), and a couple of other sheep’s milk cheeses: one with balsamic reduction and one with something that resembled marmalade. These went perfectly with the several different kinds of bread on the table – including pane coto nel forno a legna. […]

2 Culture Shock | Mid Leap { 11.17.09 at 1:01 pm }

[…] I’ll just say that it’s much less intimidating to buy vegetables and jam, and even order bread from the meat counter, than to figure out what is face soap and what is laundry detergent.  I […]

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