M’s father ‘bought’ the mill from a restaurant – Trattorio Cammillo – in Florence in the late 1970s (for £20?), no doubt after a delicious meal and a glass or two of wine. It must have left the manager with a smile on his face – and the risotto must have been really good.
Of all the clutter – from books to clothes and scratched LPs – it’s an item that will always be with us.
The mill is a handsome beast, big enough to kill a midnight intruder. We’ve never quite mastered the spring-like mechanism which prevents peppercorns exiting its base like a torrent of mini rabbit droppings. Teeth fragments have been lost over time but just holding the thing makes dishes taste better.
We don’t know if Teresa ever made it to Trattorio Cammillo, alongside the Ponte Vecchio where the mill joined the family, but eagle-eyed readers can see exactly the same pepper mills on the tables, 35 years later.
All restaurants have to start somewhere, but the generations-old eateries that fill countries like Spain and Italy are special. Their pictures and paraphernalia, often caked with years of fireplace smoke, tell more stories than Barcelona or Rome’s newest and swankiest restaurant ever could.
Here’s a film of some ill-dressed blokes scoffing and singing in the restaurant (note the pepper mills).
© con jamón spain