epicurious.com: wwoofing in italy, pasta and cheese

Notes from Italy: Why Lunch Is the Best Meal
by Alison Baenen
on 04/27/09 at 11:13 AM

Put simply, WWOOFing is an exchange of labor for food and accommodation. I’ve covered the labor and accommodation parts, but I haven’t mentioned the food.

Since I’ve been here, the farm has welcomed a legion of guests (some of whom have camped outside when the house is at capacity), which means that even the simplest meal feels like a big occasion. The best of these is undoubtedly lunch. It’s served late (by my standards), at around 2pm, so work has been going on in the fields for several hours. On my first day here, uncertain about the schedule, I entertained a nagging doubt that lunch had been forgotten. I’d have to forage stealthily through the cupboards while my hosts kept chopping wood until dinnertime (they couldn’t forget about dinner, too, right?). Just as I really started to despair, a figure appeared on the porch, rang a bell, and called out that lunch was ready. I loved that bell.

Inside we crowded around the table. A massive bowl of pasta steamed in the middle, and we sliced up hunks of Tuscan bread and slabs of Pecorino cheese to pass around. A simple salad of radicchio rosso dressed in homemade olive oil followed. I would have happily returned to work then, but coffee was served, chocolate emerged, and we talked and drank until close to 4pm, a true Italian pranzo.

Don’t get me wrong: I still love breakfast and dinner but lunch has become the best meal of the day.