A Chicken- Free Spring

Suggested Wines: Chianti Dei Colli Senesi, Romitorio (Grapes: Sangiovese, Cannaiolo, TRebbiano, Malvasia); SAngioveto, Badia a Coltibuono (Grape: Sangioveto)

I was coming home in my yellow Fiat 500 one night when I grazed a fox that had darted out into the road. Ganzo, I thought, cool, a pet fox. I scooped her up, put her in the back seat, brought her home, and tied her on a short leash in the chicken coop. Sei pazzo? Papa blew up the next morning. Are you crazy? Putting a fox in the chicken coop?

Papa, I knew, wasnt going to be the one to get close enough to liberate la volpe, so I teased him for two days straight, and all the while, my new pet stayed put. She even left the chickens alone, though she wasnt too fond of me; every time I went to see her, she’d give me dead-fish eyes.

Then one morning she was gone, her rope gnawed through, the chickens unharmed. I was a little sorry to lose her, but secretly relieved she hadn’t taken a chicken dinner with her. The relief was short-lived, however; within a day, la volpe returned, alla grande, in style. There were blood and feathers everywhere. Papa dubbed it a mini-massacre and insisted on giving the victims a burial. If we couldn’t serve the chickens to customers, he said, at least we could use them as fertilizer. My punishment was to clean the coop, bury the chickens, and restock with new ones. I went to I Frati della Certosa, a local order of monks who raised chickens. Its a hot place and smells awful. You have to pick the chicks one by one. I hated it. Then, for the whole spring, every time someone would as for chicken, Papa would smirk E colpa di Cesare, se non ce il pollo. If theres no chicken, its Cesares fault.