If we lived in Italy, then you and I would be headed out on our summer vacation. Did you know that most Italians traditionally take the entire month of August off? The lack of air conditioning in the apartments of those who live in big cities is the driving force for Italians to seek coastal cities and higher elevations in order to escape the heat of the hottest month of the year.
I imagine you and I would head to the coast. We'd be settling ourselves on full length folding chairs on the beach, a large colorful umbrella open to deter the sun as we languish on a settee with a good book.
The soft ebb and flow of the ocean would continue its quest to smooth the pebbles on the beach into sand. The sound of chatting families and friends would twirl among the ocean sound, and I'm sure, some cool music would be playing nearby.
Just past the buoys, we can see the fishermen who have anchored their boats while they work. Just to the right of us, one man has driven his boat in to sell his fresh catch of the day.
The heat is exhausting. Everyone walks around with rosy cheeks as proof. If we were locals, we would do well to sit very still for fear of heightening our body temperature. If we were locals, we would roll our eyes at tourists who pick this time of year to descend upon hot cities, while no one is working. And we would know we were smarter for escaping to the refreshment offered by sparkling seas or elevated hills.
If we were living in Italy, the other thing we would gather all our energy together for was making the 'salsa.' But not the salsa you're thinking of.
August is the season when the pomodori (tomatoes) ripen. At some point we'd gather bushels of the ripe, gorgeous red fruits and begin working.
First, we'd wash the pomodori, then boil them. Next, we'd smash them through a cheese cloth then take the gathered sauce and place it in jars. After putting lids on, we'd place said jars in large boiling vats of water. This is a process that includes the whole family helping. If we were in southern Italy, we'd be doing this task in a large outdoor open space. Then, the insane number of jars of salsa would be divided up among all those who helped make it.
But why the word 'salsa'?
'Salsa' is the term used for the raw liquid sauce from the tomatoes. The real term is 'salsa di pomodoro' or tomato sauce. But like many terms that are shortened, it has become 'salsa'.
Once the tomato sauce is cooked more, it becomes a 'sugo'. But that's a word for another time becuase it comes with this debate of whether or not to add basil or garlic, which is an epic family argument that can be/and has been discussed at great length across the generations.
But we're not interested in that today, it's too hot.
My friends, take some time and live the Italian life, head to the nearest body of water or hilltop and languish in the shade. Live a little la dolce vita for awhile.