We've moved from Baltimore, Maryland USA to Venice, Italy in pursuit of living our dream!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Il Postino - the postman cometh.....or not

At the back of our orto is a gigantic old apricot (albicocca) tree which had been unfortunately, dormant since we've moved in. This year it decided to make up for it in spades. We had more apricots than we could eat, give or throw away. Mike decided he'd try his hand at apricot jam (marmalatta), and successfully made several batches of the stuff. We're set for apricot marmalatta until next year. (Watch, our tree will decide to go back to sleep again for a few years again!)

Our tomato (pomodoro) crop was also prolific this year, so Mike canned stewed tomatoes. 

Recently I eyed a crate of black figs (fichi neri) at the  market. There was NO WAY I was getting by them.  Three kilos of those beauties came home with me for a batch of fig marmalatta. 

 They are beauties, aren't they?  

 Those 3 kilos became 10 pints of glorious fig jam!

What I've neglected to tell you about all of our summer canning adventures is that we didn't own a canning pot. And now we're getting to the crux of this blog. You know that humongous pot you put the jars into to boil?  We'd been doing the boiling part of the process by putting 2-3 jars at a time into our largest pot, boiling and repeating until we'd done all the jars. Tedious. Mike and I both came to the conclusion it was time to purchase a canning pot.  I looked all over Venice. Didn't find one. I might have been able to find one somewhere in Mestre, however I just didn't want to spend the time hauling there and back. 

My fall back is always to search the internet. I found just what wanted on Ebay. It was a no-brainer. I ordered, and paid extra shipping from the USA to make sure it was delivered safely.  All I needed to do was sit back and wait for the delivery guys. Sweet. 

Yes- this thing! Remember your grandmother always had one?  Now I have one too!

Ebay was great about sending emails with tracking status. I knew when my pot had left the warehouse, I knew it had made it to customs in Europe, and I knew an approximate date it would be delivered to my doorstep. On Thursday, I received an email late in the day informing me that the delivery guy had been to the house, but no one was home.  Odd, I thought, that he didn't leave a card or note informing me that they'd been here and instructions for re-delivery.  I called the shipping company and finally managed to arrange for him to return the following day.  (The voice mail systems of all Italian companies need some help. I'm forever lost in menu system hell, but with some courage and perseverance I managed to get what I needed done.

Friday we waited at home all day long. About 5pm I phoned the shipping company again. They told me the guy had been at the house at 2:10 pm but no one was home.  Strange. I know Mike and I were there all day long, purposely waiting for this canning pot. And weird again that no note was left on the door. The guy clearly never came in the first place. The woman from the delivery company explained they would not make another attempt to bring it to the house, instead it  would be sent to the local post office. I should wait until Tuesday, then go collect it from the post office at San Marco. I reiterated "San Marco, right? "  "Si".  I clearly understood that part.

I ended up hauling my grocery cart (carello) to the San Marco post office on Wednesday morning.
And had to haul right through ...this.  Water. Now I love a good photo op as much as the next person, but I don't particularly love acqua alta when I have to haul a big box strapped to my carello.

At the post office, the guy at the counter handling dispensing of deliveries asked me for the tracking number. I had only what was emailed me by Ebay. No, not that. He wanted the number the delivery company used. Don't have it. They didn't leave me anything. By the look on his face I knew he wasn't happy with me. Could he possibly locate my package by my name?  I handed him my passport. He grumbled a little, but went off to the backroom passport in hand. 

He came back to the counter with my passport in hand, and no big box.  Nothing here for you, signoria. Try at Rialto. 

So. I hauled myself and my carello from St. Mark's to the post office at Rialto and prepared myself for round 2.  When it was my turn at the sportello, I again explained that I only had the tracking number Ebay had sent me in an email message. No. Not that number. Ok. Could you locate it by my name, here's my passport.  He looked at my passport and looked back at me. Nothing here for that name. Are you sure?  Yes. And then he dismissed me with the hand signal that means "Go away".  As I was collecting up my purse he opened up a blue folder to show me that there was nothing logged in with my name on it, when low and behold he sees my name on the list. AHA!  They do have my package.  

Then he looks up at me, smiles, and says "Signora, you should trust us. "  What?  Didn't he just shoo me away after declaring there was no package for me?  

He trots off to the back room and returns with a small package. It has my name on it, but it obviously is not a canning pot. It in fact was for me, a book, that had not been delivered to my house ever, and I had never received any delivery notice telling me to pick it up at the post office. I was overjoyed to receive my book.  The guy mistakenly thought  my signs of happiness were meant for him.  Again he gave me the "shoo" hand signal.  

I asked if he could double check because I was supposed to pick up a big box,  I even showed him a photo of the canning pot.  No, nothing else for you here. Shoo, shoo.  As I am picking up my purse, the guy does exactly the same thing. He opens up the blue folder containing his package log, and low and behold, he finds a second entry with my name on it.  "Yes!  We have a package for you, Signora"
He smiles and trots off to find my box. When he returned, with my very large brown box, he says  again, "See- You should trust us."  

Me being me, I wanted to explain the absurdity of that. Instead I flashed a huge smile, thanked him profusely and let him think he had done the greatest favor for me of my life. 

And then I proceeded to do what he wanted in the first place. Shoo. Shoo.  
I wrapped all my bungee cords around my huge box and wheeled out into acqua alta again. 

We are now the very happy owners of one extra large canning pot, which we have already inaugurated.  Our orto is overflowing with hot peppers just itching to be turned into Hot Pepper Jelly.

Just part of our hot pepper crop this season.  I think there are a few more batches of hot pepper jelly to be made!

  Our hot pepper jelly just out of the pot this afternoon

Despite the hassle, I am sure that the next time I need/want something I will  just order it online and suffer with having to deal with the post office, as much as I detest it. After all, I am supposed to trust them, right? 


Bert said...

Hi, Karen
You probably don't remember me, but I turned up unannounced at your apartment a few years ago.
I read your blog regularly, and I just wanted to let you know, too late, that you don't need a canning pot to sterilise your jars. All you need to do is to put them in your oven and set the temperature to a little bit over 100ÂșC. The lids and rubber seals you can put in a an ordinary pan with some boiling water.
You presumably get ordinary mail delivered with no problems. Was the canning pot handled by some other delivery service? They probably knew nothing about the unique Venetian address system. But in Sant'Elena you have 'normal' house numbering, don't you?
I like to make marmalade with Seville oranges.
Best Wishes

karen said...

Thanks, Bert! We have the pot now, we'll be using it :)
The delivery company is on that is used often here, they surely are familiar with the street addresses. I totally believe they just didn't want to venture down to SantElena with my big box!

And yes, way down here we have normal street addresses, including the street name. Odd for Venice, I know.

Good luck with the Orange marmalade. One of my favorite kinds!


Michelle said...

My mother had one of those sets. We had a large yard and my dad had a huge vegetable garden each year. Other than a few roses he refused to grow anything we couldn't eat. Being southern California we always had more than a family of four could eat so my mother canned everything. And to can string beans you do need to cook the vegetables in the jar in the water-bath. I remember my mother doing that. And I remember waiting for the pops of the lids that told us she was ready to tighten the lids and store the bounty in the special shelves my dad had built in the garage. As he advanced in age my father stopped having the big garden but they still had an abundance of fruit trees so my mother continued canning well into the 1990's.And I remember Mother melting wax to put a coating on the top of the jams and jellies to seal them for storage.
I'd love some of that pepper jelly but even though it's expensive in the store here it's probably still less than having you ship me some of yours.
Enjoy the fruits of your labor!