Foraging for Food

Boys my age feared the sight of German soldiers. This is where I put to good use my knowledge of nature’s bounty. I went out in the fields, creeks, hills and valleys, climbed trees for fruit and mushrooms, and search the creek banks for edibles. I captured all sorts of birds, mostly small. We had nothing to eat. Germans took all of our livestock, chickens, rabbits, and left us with nothing. We had no flour, fruits or vegetables. I went hunting, trapping and foraging alone, as I wanted to keep whatever I found. Of course, the schools were closed and had been for quite a while, so I had all day to hunt and fish.

I brought home the birds and I learned to gut and clean them in the fields. I caught fish and frogs and brought them home fairly well cleaned, Grandma always put the final cleaning to the food of course. Our condiments were sage and rosemary and we had plenty of that. We had a couple gallon jars of olive oil and Grandma had made a lot of jars of tomato paste, that kept well. She kept a very large jar full of raw olives saved in olive oil to make the Cacciatora sauce. I watched her cook what I brought home and it was astonishing what she could do with practically nothing. The zest, the flavor and the aroma throughout the house was amazing. It was just simple country cooking, no gourmets here, just rustic Italian peasant food. That is what I was raised on and the flavor continues alive and well in my kitchen.