In recent years at Spigolizzi a shepherd grazed his flock of sheep and a few goats on the rocky sloping land where nothing can be grown. Inevitably the sheep damage the dry-stone walls and the goats nip off the shoots of the semi-wild fig trees which produce delicious little fruits. This resulted in his coming along with rush baskets of placatory ricotta, particularly fragrant because made with a mixture of ewe’s milk and goat’s milk.
You eat half the ricotta fresh for lunch with plenty of black pepper and a dish of weeds or spinach. At night, you boil spaghetti in the usual way and when it is al dente strain it rapidly, keeping a small amount (say, a large wineglass for 2 people) of the hot liquor. This liquor is then put in the bottom of a large heated dish. The ricotta is added and, being stirred with a wooden spoon, quickly turns into a dense sauce. Chopped parsley and black pepper are put in, and a few whiskers of nutmeg, and then the hot spaghetti, which is turned with two forks to imbibe the sauce. A fragrant dish.
The sheep and goats are milked at 3 in the morning, and the ricotta is made in a cauldron in the hearth at dawn. For more about ricotta, lu quagliatu in dialect, see The Land of Manfred by Janet Ross, chapter XII.