Come summer here in Puglia, each of us of develops a strategy for keeping cool. For me it most often involves a 150 year old stoneware vessel kept the bottom of the refrigerator all through the summer months. In it you’ll find peaches in primitivo, the two mingling until the peaches are as black as sin and twice as tasty.
It couldn’t be simpler. Macerate peaches (I use unrefined sugar in which I pulverise whole vanilla pods) which sweetens them, as the sugar won’t dissolve on its own in cold liquids. Every couple of days I toss in a couple more kilos of cut up, macerated peaches, then top off the vessel with our house primitivo, which is good enough to drink but not so good that I worry about sweetening it with peach juices. Most of peaches never make it into a glass, their death coming at the end of a utensil, standing in front of the fridge door.
In the day time I tend to eat from the vessel with a fork, often barefoot, the cold dry air licking at my bare legs and feet. In the evenings I tend to use a spoon, or dip in a mug, the sweetened juice a cold treat, somehow exceedingly child like and adult, inexplicable at the same time.
On the occasions I’ve snuck the icy vessel into bed in the middle of a summer night, offering a second spoon to the other side of the bed, the panting and soft, involuntary groans suggest that this just might be the ultimate summer survival food. The flavours, the textures, the profound and icy chill, each element a perfect little benevolent gift. As the ceramic form oozes its cold, and the two spoons click together as they search the depths of the form, it’s about the only time in my life I’ve ever been mistaken for a genius