ZUCO PADELLA: A CLASS STRUGGLE FOUGHT WITH PEACHES
Peaches, cherries and the fight against privileges: from the food seen as a symbol of a specific class to the diffusion of the country tradition with the haute cuisine
Italian province, the early 1900s. At the end of the countryside, a cherry tree leaned against the yard. Inside the house, grandparents, children, aunts, and uncles, 30 people living all together. Socialists on the run and narrow-minded women. A patriarchal family. Every morning the head of the family Isè, gets on a bike and gets dusty for about 20 km to bring chicken and fresh eggs to the landowner. An able politician Isè… After all, in Italy, since “LUI” arrived and you <<DEAL WITH politics>>, it is good to keep a good relationship with masters and cut fascist’s vines in the night.
Well, at the end of the countryside there is a cherry tree. Cherries are candies, and the dream of the children is to climb the tree and eat them all. But around the cherry tree, there is a net: you cannot climb up there because that is a cherry tree involved in the class struggle. It is the “Marchesa’s” cherry tree.
It is particular that in those stories told in the Prof. Massimo Montanari‘s book you can find experiences close to us. Isè was my grand-grandfather, and the child who could not eat the cherries was my grand-father Gigg‘.
Sabatino degli Arienti’s (Bologna, 1445 – Bologna, 1510) “Dalle ciliege alle pesche: Zuco Padella nelle Porretane” (From cherries to peaches: Zuco della Padella in “Le Porretane”). Recommended listen: Peaches en regalia – Frank Zappa
The following text comes from one of those Novelle, the dialogue is colloquial and sometimes vernacular.
Messer Lippo Ghisilieri has a beautiful garden, rich in fruits <<and especially full of beautiful peaches>>. Messer Lippo to protect the fruit-farm used fencing hedges and ditches: peaches are not a peasantry thing. Every night, on the contrary, one of those peasants, Zuco Padella, enters through the fencing hedge, he scratches himself, rips his cloak and revenges the victim of the privilege: he steals and takes away with him a lot of peaches. Zuco is not hungry, it is just a way to fight.
But Messer Lippo gets tired and to restore the order he spread nails in the garden. In the night, when Zuco, perfectly on time arrives, can only walk two steps before he places his foot on the nails. The wound dignifies the warrior and the night after Zuco continues his fight: he puts on his feet stilts reinforced with irons normally used with donkeys, so he doesn’t get hurt and to give the impression that a donkey ate the peaches.
The trick works, but a peasant is a peasant, and a Lord is a Lord. Messer Lippo was never treated like a fool by a boor. The following night Ghisilieri prepares a wolf lair (a hole used to catch wolves) around the only one peach left.
Messer Lippo, after 3 nights of watching, sees a giant sugared by the moon: It’s Zuco, who even though has stilts ends up in the hole: <<You boor thief!>>, says Ghisilieri and again <<Next time leave the fruits that belong to me and the other Lords and eat what belongs to you, that is turnips, garlic, leeks, onions and shallot with bread>>.
In the end, Zuco Padella gets away with it and has it his way. Because, if social privileges have changed and are not measured with peaches anymore, the Lord’s cuisine (haute cuisine) has been using for a long time now “ turnips, garlic, leeks, onions, and shallot.”
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