RESTAURANTE ITALIANO EN VALENCIA
Iris was a woman of the past, literally. She was born in the late 19th century in the fertile lands of southern Italy, a circumstance that forced her to face and resolve the difficulties of her time to survive.
She managed her country-side family in the purest southern style: she seemed to accept the decisions of Gaetano, her husband, decisions that she had previously made with good judgment and wisdom.
Three beautiful daughters (Gigliola, Gloria and Italy) filled the life of Iris and Gaetano, but the beauty and sweetness of the girls could not replace, in the agricultural tasks, the vigor of the male son that the couple never had.
In those days, malaria, and its debilitating fever in the plains of Sele did not spare the energetic Gaetano. Still young, he left the women alone: if the rural life was already demanding, the situation became untenable after the disappearance of the father figure.
Iris had already managed to overcome the hardships of the years of the World War I thanks to the sale of land that provided an extra income, vital in those years of dramatic shortages. Somehow, she found a way to survive.
To help their mother, the daughters - almost of age - learned to embroider and do simple housework in the houses of the rich landowners of the place, but the meager income provided by this work was not enough: living with dignity became more and more difficult and Iris wanted a better life for her daughters. Iris then turned to Giacomo Caruso, the milkman. Her late husband, Gaetano, used to sell the scarce milk and cheese production he got from his cattle: two cows and three buffaloes for milk and a buffalo for breeding. Giacomo had a lot of cattle, but he didn't want to disappoint Iris, so he made her an offer.
He didn't just buy the animals of his old friend Gaetano. He payed more for those animals than Iris expected. He became interested in his daughters and confessed to Iris that he loved her deeply since they met in adolescence, a love that he never revealed because Gaetano was his friend.
Given that the girl to whom Giacomo had given his heart was already with someone else and that he was convinced that her, Iris, could fill his solitude, Giacomo made the management of his lands, his animals and his dairy products his only interest and refuge.
Iris's widowhood and the opportunity that she herself had fostered when she approached Giacomo to sell her animals led him to overcome his shyness and to declare himself to her once and for all
Surprised and trying to hide her stupor, Iris rejected him. It was not because of anything personal, but because, even though Giacomo's intentions were honest, she wanted to cope on her own and without any help.
Weathered by his long wait, Giacomo did not insist and took an elegant step back. He bought Iris' animals, paying the agreed sum, and invited her to send her daughters to his farm, since the development of his business activity had created new job opportunities.
Gigliola, Gloria and Italia learned the art of dairy at Giacomo's farm. They practiced with the passion and the delivery that Giacomo transmitted to them. The good results started coming in; they brought inventiveness, freshness, and innovation to the old trade and earned the esteem of the skilled cheesemaker, who encouraged them to work even harder and soon would give them full confidence.
Meanwhile, the meetings between Giacomo and Iris became more frequent. When he transmitted to Iris he loved how proud he was of the girls and the happiness they gave him, her eyes lit up and she could barely hide his feelings, becoming more and more intense every time. After many years of sacrifices and difficulties, Iris was happy; she loved Giacomo without reservation because she perceived the kindness of his feelings in his eyes and words.
Giacomo welcomed the four women on his farm and built his life with his new family. Though the times were not easy and he was no longer young. He got tried, therefore, he tried to leave things in order to pass on his business without problems. He was a forward man.
The prosperous cheesemaker, Giacomo, died years later and left his beloved Iris and her daughters, now adults, a promising future so they could live without economic problems. Inspired by the passion for the work that Giacomo had instilled in them, the girls continued the activity with hard work and dedication.
The "three sisters", affectionate nickname for which they were known by their numerous clients, they became a reference even beyond their province. They made smart investments during the 30s, they took advantage of the ease in the commercial exchanges and in the distribution and introduced the technological innovations that facilitated the conservation and the improvement of the dairy products.
The family increased and the descendants received the legacy left by Giacomo. Italy, one of the daughters, didn't find the love of her life, but both Gigliola and Gloria had two daughters. Gigliola's only son, Giulio, received the call of faith and became a priest.
At the beginning of the 40s the business was going well. Iris saw the future of her daughters and grandchildren well on track. Unfortunately, nobody counted on the outbreak of World War II, which ruined our entire country and its economy.
The farm and the laboratory were systematically plundered by German troops and bandits. The animals that did not die because of the violent epidemics, unleashed by the precarious hygienic conditions and the impossibility of finding the right medicines, were sold.
n this bloody war period, the "three sisters" were forced to cease their activity, and the beloved "botheca" - that's what they called their laboratory affectionately - had to close. There was no other choice.
The postwar period was also hard and complicated; the women looked for other jobs to survive. The dream of re-launching the "botheca" faded away between memories and melancholy.
Today, 70 years later, Gigliola, who's 90, and Gloria, 87, are still among us to remember and transmit their story. Their granddaughters and their little great-granddaughters have decided to recreate those experiences of the past. They want to do it in a special way, modern and current, looking for new horizons.
That's how and why "La Botheca - Italian Folk Food" is reborn, this time here in Valencia. La Botheca is reborn to give new life to the heritage of the "three sisters": the old and masterful art of transforming a noble raw material into Mozzarella di Búfala. In this milk is embodied the testimony of an intense and adventurous life, rich in surprising stories, whose protagonists are and will always be women like Iris and the "three sisters".
Only they know how to live La Bothéca.