Join me for a visit to Serra dei Giardni on a Saturday morning. It’s past 11 am though, they open late. In the little courtyard in front of the hothouse you can see the shelves packed with trays of new herbs and vegetables. Take a look at what we’ve got here in Venice and what will be growing in our gardens and terraces soon. First of all, there are salvia – sage plants. We love frying freshly picked sage leaves and fry them covered with a little flour in olive oil. A crispy decoration for slices of new potatoes or used to garnish risotto.
My grandmother uses salvia leaves to alleviate migraine, colds and a sore throat. She makes sciroppo di salvia, our homemade sage syrup, sometimes mixed with thyme leaves. We keep the syrup in a cool and dry place in our dispensa = pantry. Whenever someone in the family catches cold, we dilute a spoonful of sage syrup in a glass of warm water and add a teaspoon of lemon and honey. It’s our natural way of making lozenges in liquid form. If you prefer them solid, just add maize starch when making the syrup, leave the syrup to cool to room temperatue, stir well and form little lozenges.
In any garden center in Venice during spring, you can purchase thymes, chives and wild oregano. Or grow them from seeds! We use wild oregano leaves to make a favorite dish in Venetian families, uova alla portoghese.
Portuguese eggs consist of an uovo fritto – fried egg surrounded by tomato puree (sometimes passata di pomodoro). On the table we decorate this egg dish with fresh oregano leaves, black pepper and coarse sea salt.
While I was taking a look at the shelves it started to rain all of a sudden so I went into the coffeeshop in the plant nursery. I wasn’t the only one seeking refuge from the downpour. This cat was such nice company for the next 30 minutes :-)6