The Essence of Life

The Essence of Life

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Next Best Things

Vito and his new setter Artur

This weekend while on a business trip to Europe I was able to visit my friend Vito Benevelli in San Mauro Torinese, just outside of Torino in the Italian Piemonte, where Vito has his excellent restaurant Frandin "da Vito", almost at the shadow of the Superga.

Initially we had planned to hunt, but we were cheated by weather and the ever changing local hunting laws that no long allow hunting with snow on the ground, and you can bet there was snow!

So we did the next best things, we ate game and talked a lot about hunting.

Vito served me over the course of a couple fantastic dinners his wonderful "patè di selvagina", "terrina di coniglio", and "cappriolo al Barollo" along a couple bottles of excellent Nebbiolo wine, including a new to me Chiesa San Carlo from Monforte D'Alba.

Of course that in order to o along with the food and the libations over a complete weekend we need to bring stories from times gone by and sometimes stretch the truth a little bit...or a lot, depending on the point of view.

Being an experienced hunter and fisherman, Vito knows well the behavior of our class of people, and told me that there is a Piemontese proverb that says that in any place there is a congregation of seven hunters and seven fishermen the result is a total of twenty eight liars. While I don't know the intricacies of Piemontese mathematics, I am sure that he is probably right.

Along the same lines he told me a story that he assured me was completely true. While hunting "La Regina del Bosco", the beccacia or woodcock, Vito was surprise by a sudden flush that had escaped the sensitive nose of his trusted setters, and with lightening reflexes he shot at the departing bird and hit it.

We all know that the woodcock has a very long beak and this particular one when falling from the late afternoon skies came down beak first, and like an arrow it trespassed the head of a big hare, mortally wounding it.

The agonizing hare kicked spasmodically with its powerful hind legs and in doing so it uncovered an enormous and valuable truffle (Tartuffo) from the forest ground.

While I was not present at that occasions must tell you that it is not but the truth for I have seen the beccacia and ate the hare and the truffles at Vito's restaurant.

A similar but perhaps less fantastic story also happened to me many years ago. I was fishing at a small stream in Brazil and had already landed landed seven dourados, the fantastic Salminus maxilosus, none less than seven kilograms in weight.

Suddenly across the stream I saw a fantastic buck and counted twenty eight points in its antlers. Very stealthily I raised the 458 Winchester Magnum that I kept at hand just in case some pink elephant decided to come out of the woods and holding it in only one hand I shot the buck through the heart.

The brutal recoil jarred the rifle from my hand and its stock embedded in the bank behind me and when I recovered it I saw that it had shattered the head of a water moccasin that was about to strike me.

I raised my hands to the skies to thank The Lord for saving me and grabbed a mallard in each hand. This is nothing but the truth!

Let's say that a Vito and I agreed to continue our conversation at another time, maybe in a bear camp in Canada.


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