by Tea Francesca Price
The kitchen is said to be the heart of the home...and the heart of Italian culture is family. Thus, it is of little surprise that a contrada's tradition of joining together regularly for dinners has lasted centuries.
I contradaioli volunteer to cook and serve the meals which are usually every Friday night, and for the Bruco Contrada, this entails preparing enough food and drink for a "family" that ranges from 300 to upwards of 1,000 people. Rather than having to set up tables in a square or in the streets for such a number, the Bruco has terraced gardens, a unique, private space that is coveted in a small city like Siena.
A lot of work goes into these meals, the first course being a pasta dish, followed by a second course of some type of meat, vegetable and bread, followed by dessert. To drink, wine and water are always available on the table, but there is also a bar where one can purchase ‘aperitifs’, digestive liquors, or coffee.
From cooking the courses, cutting bread, serving trays and collecting finished plates and utensils, the pace of working in the kitchen is quick and the evenings are long. But working alongside friends--laughing and creating memories--makes contributing in this small way an absolute joy.
Drinks, like aperetivi or digestivi, can be bought at the bar that people volunteer to run. Photo Credit: Tea Francesca Price, 2015
Volunteers take turns preparing the weekly dinners, while groups (typically teenagers) take turns serving. Photo Credit: Paolo Giachetti, 2008
Click above to watch a short, behind-the-scenes look at the "Caterpillar's Kitchen".
Filmed/Narrated by Tea Francesca Price. Translated/Subtitled by Francesco Pacciani. June, 2015
Photo credit for gallery:
(c) Tea Francesca Price, 2015