Jellied pork, or gelatina di maiale, has a strong Irpinian heritage, specifically in the Upper Valley of the Calore River. In the local dialect it is Ilatina ‘r puorcu. Jellied pork was, at a time when the majority of Italy’s population did not have access to abundant food like today, a way to reap nutrition from almost every part of the pig. This included the feet, head and tail, which were used as the main ingredients in preparing jellied pork. After the pig has been cooked and the choice hunks of meat consumed, jellied pork was – and still is – the ultimate leftover recipe.
The head, tail and feet are cut up and left to sit in water for a day before being boiled with bay leaves. Once the meat detaches from the bone, it is removed and cut up further. The fat is skimmed from the cooking broth, which is next boiled with herbs and then left to sit in its serving dish to solidify (caused by the natural collagen). Traditional recipes call for salt, vinegar, spicy pepperoncino, and more bay leaves; the addition of wine (Fiano di Avellino is best); pine nuts and raisins or grapes; and lemon juice and rind. An unexpected addition, often a secret ingredient, is cocoa powder. The gelatin is served with other meats, or can be canned and eaten at a later time. It is also refreshing when served chilled on a hot summer day paired with fresh tomatoes and olive oil, boiled tomatoes and vinegar, on a salad, or with virtually any vegetable.
To say that jellied pork is traditionally of Campania would be both accurate and inaccurate. To use the leftover parts so as to waste nothing is truly a universal concept. And, employing the use of collagen in creating satisfying and flavorful dishes has been discovered in many countries. To name but a few, jellied pork has variations in Poland, Hungary, Ukraine, Ireland, Scandinavia, and Switzerland.
Agriturismo Tenuta Montelaura
Via Due Principati 101
Contrada Pozzelle, Forino (AV)
+39 082 576 2500
Osteria del Maiale Pezzato
Via C.Coccio 2 | 12060 SINIO (CN)
+39 017 326 3845
Via Martiri Ungheresi, 12
97012 Chiaramonte Gulfi (RG)
+39 093 292 8019
To understand what the Janare Azienda Agricola encompasses and what it portrays, a bit of background knowledge must be explained: first, La Cooperativa Agricola La Guardiensa; and second, Southern Italy’s Old Religion tradition with witchcraft. La Cooperativa Agricola La Guardiense, or the Farming Cooperative of the Guardiense, was founded in 1960 with the membership of 33 vineyards of Benevento. Today, it has over 1000 members in the area, encompassing about 2000 hectares of hilly countryside in Guardia Sanframondi, San Lorenzo Maggiore, San Lupo and Castelvenere. La Guardiensa distributes nationally and internationally and is one of Italy’s biggest cooperations and distributors of wine. It has become a symbol of quality, progress and economical success while still respecting traditional production methods.
In 2000, Janare Azienda Agricola was formed within La Guardiensa for the benefit, protection and promotion of Benevento’s DOC grapes and wines. Janare produces and sells two lines of DOC wine: Cru and Selezione. They include Falanghina, Aglianico, Greco di Tufo, Fiano, and Piedirosso.
The name Janare is the key to this winery’s identification with an age-old religion in Benevento. It has no translation in English. Suffice it to say that its history is detailed, long and fascinating, and only touched upon in this post (some informative links in English and Italian are among the sources).
La Vecchia Religione, or the Old Religion, was formed around the beliefs of Italic inhabitants, later refined by the Etruscans in 1000 BC, and further evolved in Italian culture in the late 1300s. At this time, three sects called the Triad Traditions were formed, the Fanara, Tanarra, and Janarra. They occupied northern, central, and central-southern Italy, respectively. Janarra was and remains today a religion that practices a form of witchcraft. The name Janarra itself derives from the literally two-faced god whom they worshipped, known as Janus, Ianus, and Giano, among other variations (this is the god after which January is named). The two faces look in opposite directions, making this god a symbol of gates, portals, endings and beginnings. While researching why Janare Azienda Agricola chose this tradition after which to name itself, I found a very simple suggestion. As age-old passions and traditions may coalesce to bear a cult, so Janare Azienda Agricola was born from the passions and strong traditions in the ancient art of wine-making in the people of Benevento.
Vineyard Adventures is happy to arrange tours to discover the DOC wines of Ischia.
Arrosto di Maiale in Gelatina. The Italian Taste.
Cimmino, Fabbio. La Guardiense: Progetto Janare. 12 Feb 2004. Wine Report.
Gelatina di Maiale. Regione Campania – Assessorato all’Agricoltura.
Gelatine Pig Laurel. Agriturismo Tenuta Montelaura.
Grimassi, Raven. Encyclopedia of Wicca & Witchcraft. 2000. Google eBooks.
Janare Colle di Tilio 2010: La Guardiense. Everywine.
Keeley, Janeson. The Janic Tradition. Suite 101. 14 May 2001.
The Triad Traditions. Oocities.org.
Fresh seafood in Campania is an abundant treat that southern Italians are fortunate enough to enjoy daily. Cozze, or mussels, are part of the cornucopia of seafood that Italians call frutti di mare, or fruits of the sea. Cozze have a fresh, delicate flavor that should be subtly enhanced and not overseasoned. Impepata di cozze, peppered mussels, is such a dish that does not overwhelm cozze that have been caught only hours ago, and is quick and simple to prepare. It is popular in Campania, especially in Naples. Cozze are paired with a generously peppered broth spiced with lemon, garlic, olive oil and parsley. A typical recipe can be found here.
Cozze can be wild-caught or farmed. Very few mussel foragers in the world practice their trade today, however; in all of Campania, they are farmed. In northern Italy, Ancona is perhaps the only place in the country where cozze foragers still wake up in the early hours before sunrise to gather the catch of the day. The wild-caught cozze from Ancona are, in fact, a Slow Food Presidia. While many people testify that wild-caught cozze have tasty nuances of flavor that farmed ones do not have, just as many claim that farmed cozze taste better and are more flavorful. In addition, they are meatier, easy to farm and quick to sell. When shopping for cozze to prepare for yourself a dish of impepata di cozze, however, be aware of illegal mussel farming. Because they are relatively simple to farm, unsanctioned hatcheries do exist, and can be unclean and environmentally harmful. Know from which farm you buy your cozze before sautéing them in a peppery, lemony broth. Then, with a cold glass of Ischia Bianco DOC in hand, you can enjoy your impepata di cozze with peace of mind.
Open air fresh fish markets abound in southern Italy. Below, I’ve listed one in Naples and another in Avellino. Fresh seafood is also easily found in the many seafood shops, or pescheria, and seafood restaurants. Look for the words frutti di mare.
The Porta Nolana Fish Market
Nr Piazza Garibaldi, Naples
Metro Garibaldi/bus 14, 110, 125, R2
Hours: 7am-1.30pm daily.
Pescheria La Sirena Di Sasso Margherita
Via Nazionale, 179
83013 Mercogliano Avellino, Italy
+39 082 568 2239
Ristorante da Ciccio
Via Luigi Mazzella 32, Ischia
+39 081 99 16 86
Hours: closed Monday
The Island of Ischia off the coast of Naples is characterized by a volcanic landscape lush with Mediterranean foliage and swept by sea breezes. This beautiful island, a popular tourist destination, was declared DOC in 1966, making it the first area in all of Italy to bear DOC status. Wine has been produced there for ages, beginning from the time the Ancient Greeks of Calcide introduced grape cultivation and the Ancient Romans called the island Enaria, meaning “the wine land.” The Cup of Nestor, an archaeological treasure, evidences the fact that the Ancient Greeks were the first to cultivate grapes. As a quick and interesting side note, the cup dates from 750 – 700 BC, before Enaria, when Ischia was called Pithekoussai. It is the earliest example of Greek writing. The lines written on the cup are fragmented, but what is there has been translated (here is an example), and seem to refer to inebriation. By the 1500s, Ischia was exporting its popular wine to the markets of Dalmatia on the mainland. Today, there exist seven categories of Ischia wine: bianco, spumante, rosso, Biancolella, Forestera, Piedirosso (called Per’e Palummo locally), and Piedirosso passato.
The local and traditional method of grape cultivation is called “in curratura.” It is said to guarantee high-quality wine. It began with the Ancient Greeks, and differs from that of the Ancient Etruscans and Romans. In the hilly landscape of Ischia, terraces are cut into the volcanic slopes and reinforced with walls built of greenstone and tufa (tuff rocks). In curratura methods are yet practiced, but are in danger of fading away due to its slower and labor-intensive techniques, coupled with higher demands for wine due to the large tourism influx.
Ischia Bianco DOC has a straw yellow tone, with soft, pleasant, dry and balanced flavors of limes and green apples. Ischia Rosso DOC is of a ruby-red hue, also dry and balanced. It is slightly more tannic and earthy than the bianco. Restrained berry and other subtly juicy flavors are combined with spicy scents. Brief descriptions and summaries of all seven Ischia wine categories can be found here.
Vineyard Adventures is happy to arrange tours to discover the DOC wines of Ischia.
D’Alise, Luigi. Ischia Wines DOC. 23 Oct 2007. Ischia.
Gastronomy – The Products of the Coast. Villagio Baia Serena.
Mussels in a Black Pepper Broth. Global Cookbook. Cook Eat Share.
Ischia Italian Wine. Italian Wine Center.
Ischia DOC. Regione Campania – Assessorato all’Agricultora.
Mora, Faustino. Nestor’s Cup. Archaeologies of the Greek Past.
Petrini, Carlo. Mussel-bound. 28 Apr 2005. Slow Food.
Stanwood, Les. Mussels: How to Forage or Farm Them. Mother Earth News: The Original Guide to Living Wisely.
The Island of Ischia: Where the Puttanesca Sauce was Invented. Puttanesca Sauce.
Typicalness from Campania. Inside Italy.
Campania is Italy’s oldest hazelnut-growing region. From 3 BC, Ancient Romans have attested to its tasty crunch through frescoes of hazelnut trees uncovered in Herculaneum. Carbon dating of ancient tree samples reveal that today’s little brown nocciola (no-cho-la) is quite similar to what Ancient Romans snacked on. The hazelnut’s versatility in various dishes, its ease of shelling and naturally abundant growth in Campania have popularized the filbert, its common American name. The nocciola has been commercially valuable for a long time. In the late 1600s during the reign of the Kingdom of Naples, there were even specialized royal offices that tracked and measured the quantity of hazelnuts.
The favorable climate and fertile soils of Campania prove to be especially nourishing for hazelnut trees, as they have with so many other products in this series. The Irno Valley and the Picentini Mountains are hazelnut hotspots, as well as the hills of Naples, Casertano and Flegrea. Salerno hazelnuts are especially prized. Above all, the Nocciola di Giffoni is the most highly praised, and gained IGP status in 1997. 10% of national production takes place in the Irno Valley and Picentini Mountains, of which only 10% are directly consumed. The other 90% is made into confectionary delights like Nutella (of Italian origin and originally called Gianduia) and other pastries, candies and sweets, or even in pasta dishes and main courses, such as this Pork and Milk with Giffoni Hazelnuts regional specialty.
Azienda Agrituristica: Fattoria Antico Borgo dei Briganti di Granese Ennio
Via S. Giorgio, 25
Giffoni Valle Piana (Salerno)
Agriturismo Bosco Farneto
Caserta, Italy 81050
Agriturismo Barone Antonio Negri
Via Teggiano, 8
84084 Fisciano (Salerno)
The vineyards and winery of Antica Hirpinia began as a few cement buildings that produced their specialty wine Taurasi. Today, it boasts top-of-the-line technology that works in harmony with nature and uses traditional production methods, a restaurant that pays close attention to wine pairing and includes a variation of dishes that rotate with the seasons, and a tasting room.
“Hirpinia” is an ancient variation of “Irpinia,” and recalls Campania’s centuries-long wine history. The areas of Avellino and Benevento, originally one region ruled by the ancient tribe Taurasini and named Ager Taurasinus, began grape cultivation in 273 AD. Antica Hirpinia’s land is known for possessing prime conditions for cultivating the Aglianico grape, which is the base grape of Taurasi. The hard-clay soil, rich in potassium and phosphates, is also ideal for the grape varieties Greco di Tufo, Fiano and Coda di Volpe, all of which are also cultivated by Antica Hirpinia.
Antica Hirpinia produces DOCG Taurasi of 100% ruby-red Aglianico, Fiano di Avellino and Greco di Tufo; DOC Lacryma Christi del Vesuvio in Rosso and Bianco; and IGT Falanghina del Beneventano, Donna Eleonora Irpinia Fiano, Irpinia Aglianico, and Don Gesualdo Irpinia Rosso. In addition, they make grappa and limoncello. As one can imagine, with such a wide variety of wines, grappa and limoncello, the restaurant pairs each course with its perfect complementary beverage.
Vineyard Adventures is happy to arrange tours to discover the vineyards and winery at Antica Hirpinia.
Auffrey, Richard. 2004 Antica Hirpinia Aglianico Irpinia IGT. The Passionate Foodie. 29 July 2008.
Foods of Campania. ItalianMade.
Fruits and Nuts. Campania Foods Corporation.
Noce di Sorrento. Regione di Campania – Assessorato all’Agricoltura.
Cerasuolo – Cherry Red
Cerasuolo can be a sticky term in Italian wine as it has a few different uses. In general it means “cherry red” in color and can be used to describe the overall color of any rosato (rosé) wine. However, it has some more specific applications as well. First, there is a DOC Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo where the term is applied as part of the DOC to mean rosato that comes from Abruzzo. The Denomination of Origin “Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo” is reserved for wines from vineyards in the region composed of at least 85% Montepulciano. Blending grapes/other non-aromatic red grapes suitable for cultivation in the region of Abruzzo alone or together are permitted up to a maximum of 15%.(2) There are standards for color and for character in the DOC Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo as well:
cherry pink, more or less;
pleasant, fine wine, fruity and intense, with hints of spice;
dry, smooth, harmonious, delicate with a pleasant almond aftertaste;
- Minimum total alcoholic strength:
- Minimum total acidity:
4.5 g / l; (2)
Cerasuolo is also a DOCG in Sicily as in Cerasuolo di Vittoria a RED wine predominantly Nero d’Avola wine often blended with the fragrant cherry/strawberry qualities of the Frappato grape. “Much less is known of Frappato, which must comprise at least 40% of the blend of Cerasuolo di Vittoria, the balance being Nero d’Avola, and most producers stick exactly to that.” 3 One of the most celebrated producers of Cerasuolo di Vittoria is COS
Vineyard Adventures is happy to arrange tours to discover Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo in Abruzzo and Cerasuolo di Vittoria in Sicily.
1. Vino Italiano: The Regional Wines of Italy by Joseph Bastianich & David Lynch
We asked many of our native Italian friends for the meaning of fuia fuia in this context and got a few differing answers—some said it was “fast”, as in fast to make, some said “running away” as in they will vanish quickly, others saying “thief, thief”, as in they will be quickly stolen. After preparing it, I’m going to go out on a limb and say I think it means Appetizer “To Go” as in easy to carry off.
Here’s how I translated the recipe:
3.5 oz gr margarine (I used 2 TBSP olive oil)
Now, I think I can rule out that fuia fuia means quick to make. It isn’t terribly fast with the pitting of olives, the rolling of dough and the assembling each “cigarette” mine were more like big fat cigar. But it is easy, if a little time consuming. My takeaways from this recipe are that you should be sure to use enough cheese, at least the equivalent of a slice of American cheese per “cigarette”. And I might use mozzarella instead of Asiago. The thinner you can get your dough the better or you will want to increase the filling a bit. The recipe did not call for a dipping sauce; but I found that it needed a little something so I prepared some marinara for dipping—definitely the right decision. I made quite a bit of marinara and could not resist converting it into salsa puttanesca with penne since I had all the ingredients handy.
Gragnano (grah-nyah-no) pasta IGP indicates a high-quality pasta from Gragnano, Campania, a city that has 500 solid years of traditional pasta production behind it. Gragnano is a city built for making pasta, with wide streets for hanging long strands of spaghetti to dry in the hot sun and salty sea breezes. The quality of Gragnano pasta is promoted and defined by Consorzio Gragnano Città della Pasta, a union formed by slow and traditional pasta producers in Gragnano in 2005.
The label Gragnano IGP (Indicazione Geografica Protetta) has come to mean much the same thing to an artisanal pasta-seeker as DOCG, DOC and IGT appellations do to a wine consumer. IGP is the equivalent of DOC for wine; Gragnano pasta is the only pasta in the world with this official artisanal status. Pasta made from a company that is part of the cooperative implies specific geographic locations, ingredients and production techniques.
First, Gragnano pasta must be made in and around the Bay of Naples. Its ingredients include 100% Italian durum wheat mixed with the calcium-poor waters of Monti Lattari. Next, when forming pasta shapes, bronze casts called trafilata al bronzo are used, instead of the usual Teflon that most large factories use today in mass production of pasta. The trafilata al bronzo gives the pasta a slightly rougher texture that is perfect for soaking up sauces and lends a satisfying mouthfeel. Then, the pasta is naturally dried by the salty sea breezes in temperatures no higher than 122 F, for anywhere from six to sixty hours. Higher temperatures burn off the subtle flavors and aromas that cannot be detected in a common supermarket brand of pasta. This process is called essiccazione. Lastly, even the packaging has boundaries: it must consist of organic or otherwise recyclable material.
These pastifici are all a part of the Consorzio Gragnano Città della Pasta. To see the entire listing, visit the list on the official site Gragnano Città Della Pasta.
Pastificio Gaetano Faella S.a.S
P.zza Marconi, 13,
80054 Gragnano (Napoli)
Pastificio Di Martino
Via Castellammare, 82
80054 Gragnano (NA) Italia
Pastificio dei Campi
Via dei Campi, nr.50
80054 Gragnano (NA)
Last week, the Falanghina wine was proposed as one of Campania’s finest white wines. This week’s grape makes perhaps the finest white wine of Campania: Greco di Tufo. Greco di Tufo is considered one of the oldest (perhaps the oldest) wine of all of Italy. “Greco” refers to its Ancient Greek origins, after those who first brought the grape to Italy and cultivated it on the slopes of Vesuvius. The first written account is found in a poem fragment from 6 BC in Pompeii. The poem, written on a wall, reads, “You are cold, Bice, truly a piece of ice, if even the Greco wine could not warm your heart last night.” Later, the inhabitants of Tufo in Avellino cultivated it.
Greco di Tufo is grown in Tufo, Santa Paolina, Prato di Principato Ultra, Montefusco, Altavilla Irpina, Chianche, Petruro Irpino, and Torrioni. Additionally, only the hillsides of these areas are considered suitable for cultivation, because valleys and points of lower elevation are humid, lacking the necessary sunlight and mountain breezes. To be considered Greco di Tufo, which has had DOC appellation since 1970 and DOCG since 2003, 85% – 100% must be of Greco di Tufo, with up to 15% coda di volpe. The wine can also be a sparkling spumante.
Greco di Tufo is not a mild-mannered wine. With zesty, fresh flavors of peaches, pear and herbs, coupled with restrained aromas of almond and apricot, it is a fully dry white wine with a sharp minerality. It is these distinct notes that place Greco di Tufo one step above the two other great white Campania wines, Falanghina and Fiano di Avellino. Some believe that it complements mild dishes nicely, such as seafood, rice dishes, and pasta in butter or white sauces; others, that it pairs perfectly with strong dishes of veal, chicken, and cheeses.
Vineyard Adventures is happy to arrange tours to discover Greco di Tufo.
Anderson, David. Greco di Tufo DOC – Smooth White Wine from Avellino. 24 April 2006. Italian’s Insight to Travel Italy.
La Rete – Consorzio Gragnano Città della Pasta. Terra Madre.
Le DOC, Le DOCG, Le IGT della Provincia di Avellino: Greco di Tufo.Il Portale del Vino della Regione Campania.
mafaldina. Il Successo dell’Incanto della Pasta 2010. 7 Sept 2010. Il blog dei Pastificio dei Campi.
mafaldina. Pasta di Gragnano IGP, ormai è ufficiale! 1 Aug 2010. Il blog dei Pastificio dei Campi.
P., Tracie. Greco di Tufo DOCG. 3 Nov 2010. My Life Italian.
Parla, Katie. Pasta di Gragnano. 29 April 2009. Parla Food.
Williams, Daniel.Gragnano’s Crisis in a Pasta Pot. 19 Jan 2005. The Washington Post.
Ahhhhh. 3 of my all-time favorite things in one place—Gin, Campari, Vermouth. It just doesn’t get any better than this for me.
A little history I found on the beverage says:
Reportedly during the year 1919, the “Negroni” cocktail was invented when Camillo Luigi Manfredo Maria Negroni asked bartender Fosco Scarselli of Cafè Casoni to fortify his Americano with gin. There is a letter from October 13, 1920 written to Count Camillo from Frances Harper of Chelsea, London, “You say you can drink, smoke, & I am sure laugh, just as much as ever. I feel you are not much to be pitied! You must not take more than 20 Negronis in one day!”¹
I recall a leisurely drive from Dogliani to Sampeyre in the early fall. My dear Italian friends have a favorite pit stop at a little cafe along the way. It has a comfy outdoor seating area with over-stuffed sofas and cozy red curtains. It was time for aperitivo and of course that meant Negronis for everyone!
The Negroni is a true classic Italian aperitivo cocktail. Made as follows according to the International Bartender’s Association²:
NEGRONI Pre dinner ( old-fashioned glass )
3.0 cl Gin (I’m a Plymouth woman myself)
3.0 cl Campari
3.0 cl Sweet Red Vermouth (Cinzano Rosso is of course the Italian choice! Though I prefer Dolin)
Pour all ingredients directly into old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Stir gently. Garnish with half orange slice and stirer.
Optional : Splash of Soda Water.
Want to visit the historic Caffè Giacosa formerly Caffè Casoni, reported birthplace of the Negoni? We can take you to beautiful Florence to discover it and sip a Negroni where in the very bar where it was created.
Here’s where you can find it:
Caffè Giacosa, Via della Spada 10/r 50123 Firenze – Italia – Italy
tel: +39 (0)55 2776328
This chilly, wet spring day I choose this comfort food dish, full of gooey cheese, potato chunks and pasta with sauce. Prep time is very minimal; it doesn’t take much longer than bringing a pot of water to boil. While the water is boiling, sauté sliced potatoes with olive oil. Add a peeled tomato or two to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Remove the pasta (sempre bucatini!) before it is completely cooked (you don’t want it to become mushy in the oven) and the potato sauce in a small baking dish. Top with grated parmesan cheese and bake at 350 for about 15 minutes.
Do you have any favorite week night comfort food? Share your favorite weeknight recipes with me in the comments section.
The friarielli (free-are-ee-ELL-ee) plant is a green, leafy vegetable whose usage dates back to the Medieval Ages in southern Italy. It is grown, sold and eaten almost solely in Campania. The appearance of friarielli resembles that of the small leaves found on common, supermarket broccoli, but much larger and of a more vibrant green. The exact broccoli variety of friarielli is disputed, with one person claiming it is broccoli rabe, another that it is broccoletti, and a third that it is turnip tops. The Napoletani, who have eaten friarielli for the longest time and continue to consume it the most, maintain that it is altogether different – and better – than the comparatively insipid, more common broccoli varieties.
Friarielli is a different variety of the cultivar group Brassica oleracea. Its flavor is nuttier, more peppery, more pungent, and overall more flavorful than anything else in that family. The name friarielli is Napoletano; the Italian word for this vegetable and dish is frigiarelli, and bespeaks of how a person should prepare it: quickly fried, or sautéed, in extra virgin olive oil, seasoned with garlic, salt and pepper, and sprinkled with spicy pepperoncino. Together with sausage, friarielli is a popular dish in Naples. Sausage and friarielli are also a very popular combination as a pizza topping, called friarielli e salsiccia. It is perhaps the most popular pizza topping in Naples, just behind margherita and marinara.
Numerous restaurants and pizzerias, especially in Naples, serve dishes that feature friarielli. Here are a few that highlight the friarielli either as a pizza topping or a dish:
Pizzeria Trianon da Ciro
Via P. Colletta, 46
Closed Sundays and midday
Via A. Artiaco, 120
Il Ristorante La Vignarella
Via Vaccheria, 13
81020 San Leucio, Caserta
The green Falanghina (fal-an-GHEE-nah) grape produces a balanced, fruity white wine that can be enjoyed as a table wine as well as found in an affordable to moderately expensive bottle. It glows with a golden straw color, has lively, smoky and nutty notes with a lemony acidity, and begs to be enjoyed with plates of fresh seafood or mozzarella di bufala. It is one of the oldest
grape varieties used for winemaking in Italy. First brought by Greek settlers to Campi Flegrei in 7 BC, the Falanghina grape took root and flourished in the porous, mineral-rich volcanic soil. Because of how well it takes to the land, it became popular throughout southern Italy. Its best expression is brought forth from the areas of Procida, Falerno del Massico, Campi Flegrei and Sannio. It is the most popular white grape grown in Naples and Caserta, and is the base grape in numerous DOC wines, such as Falerno del Massico bianco, Balluccio bianco and Campi Flegrei Falanghina.
The origins of this grape’s name have remained virtually and remarkably unchanged since the Ancient Romans first cultivated it in Sannio using falangae, or upright poles, to support the vines. There is evidence that Falanghina, like Aglianico, was a key component in the nobles’ ancient drink Falernum. The first written record of Falanghina is not until centuries after its debut to Italian soil in 1825. It is possible that earlier accounts of a different strain of Falanghina may have become confused with the Campania variety. DNA analysis confirms the cultivation of Falanghina beneventano of northern Italy and the different Falanghina flegrea of Campania.
Southern Italy’s hot climate may seem, at first, as though it should cause Falanghina wines – and, for that matter, all other white Campania wines – to lose their appropriate acidity. However, the mountainous terrain provides higher and cooler elevations. Combined with the rich soil, the Campania climate makes for a stunning white wine.
Vineyard Adventures is happy to arrange tours to discover Falanghina.
Apstein, Michael. Campania’s World-Class White Wines. SFGate. 12 Sept 2008.
Falanghina. Wine Geeks.
Free…free…friarielli!!! Green Bean. 7 Jan 2007.
Italian Falanghina. Vivi. 2010.
La storia dei friarielli. Friarielli.
P., Tracie. Falanghina. My Life Italian. 29 Nov. 2010.
P., Tracie. What We Eat. My Life Italian. 18 Dec 2006.
Robb, Peter. Midnight in Sicily: On Art, Feed, History, Travel and la Cosa Nostra. Macmillan, 2007.
This week we will kill two birds with one stone with cavatappi. Cavatappi is both a food word and a wine word.
The word comes from combining cava and tappi which means ‘extract’ and ‘top’ respectively. So what do we have here kids? A corkscrew!
Pictured above is the Pulltex PullParrot and this is my favorite corkscrew so far. I have never figured out the appeal of the Rabbit. I once took a bottle of wine to a party and the only opener that was available was a Rabbit. I proceeded to knock the bottle to the floor and forever have this waiters corkscrew in my purse. You never know when a bottle of wine might show up. This is much more portable than the Rabbit and much more effective than a pistol. (20th birthday party, don’t ask.)
If you’re feeling especially wine geeky on your next trip to Piemonte, head to the Corkscrew Museum.
The full line of Pulltex products can be found here.
In regards to food, cavatappi is yet another shape of pasta. This resembles the ‘worm’ of a corkscrew and can also be called a ‘double elbow.’ I’m suddenly feeling the need to re-purchase The Encyclopedia of Pasta.
The erba pulieio is a small-leafed, purple-flowered herb that can be found in Bonito, Avellino. It is known throughout Italy as numerous variations of its name: puleggio, pulieo, pulegio, Pulieium, nepetella, and mentuccia are used in different areas of Italy, and perhaps for good reason, as this herb has many offshoot varieties. The scientific name is Mentha pulegium, of the Lamiceae mint family. In English, pulieio is known most commonly as pennyroyal.
The uses of pulieio can fall into the homeopathic realm as well as into that of the culinary. In antiquity, pulieio was used during ceremonial rituals honoring the goddess of agriculture, Demeter. The Ancient Romans also used it as one of the first contraceptives as well as an abortive. The Medieval Ages saw an increase in the number of purported uses, including as an anti-depressant, to relieve coughing and respiratory ailments, and to settle an upset stomach. Even in modern-day, one can find pennyroyal sold in natural remedy stores, but it should be used with caution: the oil of this herb’s small leaves is fatal if used incorrectly. As for cuisine, pulieio is used to prepare vegetables, to garnish soup and pasta dishes that feature beans, to flavor lamb and polenta, and often for marinades and in pickling. The pungent minty-ness balances the bitterness of artichokes, and is an essential ingredient in their preparation.
While pulieio has been known around the globe for centuries, including in many or all regions of Italy, it is to Bonito, Avellino that we return, for it is this town of Campania that identifies it as a regional plant. In Bonito, the Sagra del cecatiello con il pulieio is held annually on the first Sunday in August. During this Festival of Cecatiello and Pulieio, one is able to sample regional specialties, including the dish after which the festival is named. Cecatiello con il pulieio is a pasta-based dish made with a pesto of mortar-ground pulieio, garlic and spicy pepperoncino, mixed with fresh cecatiello pasta (also known as cavatelli) and extra virgin olive oil.
Hotel de la Ville Restaurant
Via Palatucci 20, Avellino, Campania 83100
Phone: +39- 082-578-0911
The following restaurants serve typical Irpinian dishes, and depending on the time of the year may offer dishes garnished with pulieio. You may also ask, “Vorrei assaggiare un piatto col’erba pulieio,” or, “I would like to taste a dish with the pulieio herb.”
Ristorante La Maschera di Avellino
San Modestino 1, Avellino
Trattoria Di Pietro
Corsa Italia, 8
Melito Irpino Avellino 83030
Epomeo wine is made of grapes grown in the IGT region of the slopes of Monte Epomeo, the extinct volcano and highest point of picturesque Ischia. It can be a bold, fruity, ruby-red wine, a versatile and citrusy white wine, or an intense, honey and fruit-flavored dessert wine.
From folk-lore, the Epomeo wine became famous hundreds of years ago when a monk and his boat were washed clear ashore during a storm, completely unscathed and dry. The monk found refuge at a monastery where he was served Epomeo wine, whereupon instead of making the usual sign of the cross, he made signs that suggested he was exorcising evil from it. The monks who observed this thought that, because he had survived the tempest, and was now making strange signs, he must be a very holy man. Through the next days, the monks continued to bring him wine from Monte Epomeo, and the rumor began that he knew how to turn water into wine. From that point on, Epomeo wine was famous.
An example of a dessert Epomeo wine is the Sygnum Epomeo Passito 2006 IGT by Antonio Mazzella, produced through harvesting grapes during the first week of October, and left to dry, protected, until December. The grapes Biancolella, Forestera, and Levante create an amber yellow color with notes of apricot, peach, dried figs and honey. The Epomeo bianco is made of Fiano and Biancolella grapes, making it a very typical Campania wine. Typical tasting notes are citrus fruits, minerals and spices, and hints of hazelnut. The Epomeo rosso can be made with combinations of Aglianico, Montepulciano of Abruzzo and Piedirosso, producing a wine that is rich in dark berry and cherry flavors, and balanced with spices.
Vineyard Adventures is happy to arrange tours to discover Epomeo IGT.
Riley, Gillian. The Oxford Companion to Italian Food. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
Laine e Pulieio. La Cucina dello Stregone. 31 Jan 2011.
Pennyroyal. Medline Plus. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. 19 Nov. 2010.
Prodotti Tipici. Comune di Bonito, Provincia di Avellino.
Sagra del cecatiello con il pulieio. Sagre in Campania.
An Idyl of Ischia. The Eclectic Magazine of Foreign Literature, Science, and Art, Volume 109. Levitt, Trow $ Co., Nov 1887.
La Pietra – Tommasone. VinUS.
…or Tumin dal Mel as they say in Piemontèis
Nestled in the foothills of the Alps sits the tiny, sleepy village of Melle from whence this delightful cheese hails. Almost medieval in character, the tiny hill of San Maurizio just outside of Melle holds the treasured secret of Tumin dal Mel.
Possibly dating back to Roman times and with written mentions as early as the 11th Century, this small cylindrical raw or semi-cooked cow’s milk cheese from Piemonte, Italy is a real crowd-pleaser due to its versatility. Fragrant and subtle when young and pungent when aged it provides appeal to most palates depending on its stage of ripeness. The image above shows the cheese in a quite youthful, even gooey state, delightfully nutty and mild. When in the early stages of ripeness, this cheese pairs very well with dolcetto and when aged, a more sturdy Barolo would be in order.
my own travels to the region
all images ©2011 Raelinn Doty
“Gaeta olive [gah-AY-tah]- Small, blackish Italian olive that’s either dry-cured, which produces dry, wrinkled, slightly brownish fruit, or cured in brine, which results in plumper fruit with a purplish cast. They are meaty and slightly tart to salty in flavor with hints of nuts.”
This definition, found in my copy of the Food Lover’s Companion, is helpful.
“Cured black olives.”
This description, found at the olive bar at the Wegman’s in Ithaca? Not so much.
Based on pictures and some luck, I chose what I believe to be the same variety of olive that is called for in this week’s Frijenno Magnanno recipe. E maccarune d’o gravunare, translated roughly to “coal miner’s pasta,” is not for the faint of heart. This is a gritty, salty, fishy meal, albeit delicious, and is best consumed after a day’s hard work with a ravenous appetite.
The Gaeta olive is named for the city found in the Lazio region of Italy and is famous for producing this small black fruit. The slight bitterness works well in this dish to balance out the salty, tangy flavors of the capers and anchovies.
Bucatini is the preferred pasta for this recipe, and a quick sauté of the remaining ingredients is all that is required for this simple dish. Mince garlic, anchovy filets, capers, Gaeta olives and peperoncino. Cook over low heat in olive oil and toss with the pasta when finished. I chose to leave my sauce on the chunky side for more texture, but it is traditionally ground to a smooth, thick paste. Serve with a crusty piece of Italian bread.
Herbst, Sharon Tyler. The Deluxe Food Lover’s Companion. Hauppauge, NY: Barron’s, 2010.
Viviani, Raffaele, Poesie. 2010. p. 373
In Italy, pasta is sold in innumerable forms, shapes and sizes and eaten with specific sauces or other toppings. Over 350 different shapes of pasta can be found in Italy, and each of these shapes can differ slightly from region to region. Ridges or smooth-edged, thin or thick walls, spiral, curling, circular or bent, diagonal or straight-cut, long or short, these are only a few variations of the myriad forms that pasta can take. Ditaloni have a thick, tubular pasta shape. The name is derived from ditale, or thimble. This particular shape, along with its cousins ditalini, rigatoni and paccheri, which are similar in shape to ditaloni, have origins in Campania. Ditaloni, specifically, is Neapolitan.
The different shapes and sizes of pastas often suggest with what kind of dish or sauce they would best be paired. A smooth, delicate sauce is complimented by smaller pasta pieces, like the tiny ditalini. Large, tubular pastas like ditaloni or rigatoni can catch the flavorful chunks of thicker sauces, though would otherwise be a mouthful of pasta if eaten with a thin sauce. Ditaloni are, indeed, eaten with thick sauces, and are most often added to soups. Even though ditaloni have Neapolitan origins, the shape is not confined to Naples or to the Campania region. Wider distribution has ensured that many shapes are available in any Italian region, just as the supermarkets of the U.S. are no longer confined to variations of spaghetti, penne or elbow pasta.
Giuseppe Di Martino of Pastificio dei Campi will be participating in Food Camp Cilento.
Pastificio dei Campi
Via dei Campi, nr.50
80054 Gragnano (NA)
A panificio is a bakery, many of which also make various pastas. A panificio can be found in every town and every other street in Italy. Below, the Pastifico Vicidomini proudly makes ditaloni.
Premiato Pastificio Vicidomini
Via Luigi Guerrasio 63
84083 Castel San Giorgio (SA)
The De Conciliis winery of Cilento, Campania is an outstanding example of a family run business whose success is closely tied to not only their commitment to high-quality and natural methods of wine-making, but also to an eye for innovation and creativity. Their approach to wine-making is flexible and adapts to seasonal variations while remaining loyal to natural methods year-in and year-out. Bruno De Conciliis, the founder’s son and current owner, gradually lowered the level of sulphites in his wines until he earned the organic wine-making certification in 2007. From reading various accounts, interviews and blogs of those who were honored to dine with Bruno De Conciliis and his family, or those who visited the De Conciliis winery, it is clear that Bruno and his team are talented and experienced.
The vineyards surrounding the De Conciliis estate and castle are facing the Mediterranean Sea and interspersed with olive trees. The hot climate, high altitude and ancient southern soils of Cilento encourage healthy vines of falanghina, fiano and aglianico grapes to flourish. De Conciliis specializes in white wines from fiano and fruity, full-bodied wines from aglianico. The first sparkling Campania wine produced is of the De Conciliis winery, and is an IGT blend of 70% fiano and 30% aglianico, called Selim. The signature wine is a DOC 100% aglianico called Naima, with dry, spicy and fruity flavors. Other wines include the DOCG Greco di Tufo called Oro; IGT Antece made of fiano; IGT Donnaluna, which is a blend of fiano and aglianico; and Ba!, a blend of aglianico and barbera. The colorful names sometimes play on Bruno’s love of jazz: Selim is Miles spelled backward, and is a small tribute to jazz artist Miles Davis; and Naima is named after the same-titled song by John Coltrane.
Vineyard Adventures is happy to arrange tours to Viticoltori De Conciliis.
These wines will be featured during an evening dinner at Food Camp Cilento
A Lovely Dinner with Bruno De Conciliis. Vite Vinifera De Vinoís Blog.
Colao, Alex. Vicidomini, the Legend of Pasta. Campania Pasta. 28 Oct 2010.
Demetri, Justin. History of Pasta: Italian Pasta Through the Ages. Life in Italy.
Dinner with Bruno De Conciliis. Oliveto Community Journal. 27 Jan 2010.
Ditaloni. About.com Italian Food. 2011.
Gavillet, Sebastien. A Visit to Viticoltori De Conciliis in Campania, Italy. Wine Vibe. 28 July 2010.
Which of the Italian Pasta Shapes? Italian-Tradition.com.
Vineyard Adventures is happy to plan your trip to Italy so you may experience first-hand what makes wild boar so special to the Italians. Email us.
I had purchased all the ingredients to make the sartù on page 111 of Frijenno Magnanno when it happened, my usual change-of-season cold struck. I’ve been down for 3 days. Cold pills just make me feel worse anymore so I just have to sleep it off.
In lieu of actually cooking this week, I give you a preview of sartù as defined by Arthur Schwartz in his great book Naples at the Table : Cooking in Campania:
…Neapolitans are absolutely boastful about sartù, a molded case of rice filled with delicacies: porcini, chicken livers, and marble-sized meatballs to name just a few. The speculation is that the word “sartù” comes from the French surtout, which literally means “above all.” Sartu’ is conspicuously of noble birth, definitely a dish from the Bourbon court of the late eighteenth century.”
Hopefully Maria won’t catch a cold this week and will dish up something tasty next Wednesday.
The carciofo bianco, or white artichoke, is a regional specialty that is farmed in Campania in the areas of Caggiano, Auletta, Salvitelle, Valle del basso Tanagro, and Pertosa. It is most popular in the small town of its namesake, Pertosa.
The carciofo bianco is a culinary delight, prized for its resistance to cold temperatures, its sweet and mild flavor, and its versatility and ease in preparation. It can be used in any number of dishes, such as artichoke pâté, a torta rustica, which is a crumbling puff pastry with any number of ingredients inside, or as carciofo imbottito, seared artichokes stuffed with pecorino, bread crumbs, prosciutto and herbs. It is most commonly eaten raw, dressed simply with olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. The artichoke buds are round and large, and do not wield the characteristic artichoke spikes.
This gastronomic delight is not only prized for its taste and cold-weather hardiness, but it is farmed and harvested using traditional agricultural methods, and is a Slow Food Presidium of Italy. The fields of Pertosa can be seen as interlocking patchwork squares of olive trees and carciofi bianchi plots, olive oil being another principle product of Pertosa. In the past, the carciofo bianco was a bit more prevalent within the region, though it has nearly always been an exclusively local product. As of today, a relatively small number of farmers cultivate the carciofo bianco. Those who do distribute the artichoke locally, as they did in times past. Recognition of the carciofo bianco has been growing, however; in Pertosa, it is popular enough to warrant an annual festival in its honor: the Sagra del Carciofo Bianco, held every May in the De Marco Square.
Sagra del Carciofo Bianco: The White Artichoke Festival
When: May 7 – 8, 2011, from 7:30pm to midnight of the 8th.
Where: Piazza G. De Marco, Pertosa (SA)
Hotel and Ristorante Z’ Marianna
Via Muraglione 9, 84030 Pertosa (SA)
Via Muraglione, Grotte, 84030 Pertosa (SA)
The coda di volpe is an abundant grape in select areas of Campania, but is little-known outside of the region. Its name means “fox tail,” which colorfully compares the appearance of the hanging bunches of grapes to a fox’s bushy tail. Like aglianico and biancolella, the roots of this wine reach centuries back into history. The ancient Romans cultivated it, and the first written record exists in Pliny the Elder’s Naturalis Historia.
The coda di volpe helped to bring about a resurgence in Campania wines that were lagging in popularity and, often, high quality. About 30-40 years ago, producers were searching for ways to mediate the high acidity levels of Irpinian wines, due to the composites of the volcanic soil in which the grapes are grown. The coda di volpe was rediscovered as a useful blending variety for white wines, often with other native varieties such as Greco, Falanghina and Verdeca, and helped to balance the acidity.
While the coda di volpe excels as a blending variety, in the mid-1980s it was developed as a single varietal wine. In Campania, three DOC areas register the coda di volpe as such: Irpinia, Sannio and Taburno. Italian law states that to be considered representative of one grape variety, 85% of the wine must be of that grape. Other DOC wines that include coda di volpe as a blender are Solopaca and Vesuvio.
The coda di volpe is a golden-yellow, versatile wine with lots of fresh fruit in the nose and hints of spice and citrus flavors. As a younger wine, its flavor is slightly sweet, developing into a drier flavor as it ages and yet never deviating from its generally mild body. It pairs well with many different courses and types of food, and is even a good match for international, not just Italian, cuisine.
Vineyard Adventures is happy to provide tours to wineries to discover coda di volpe. Send us an email
The aperitivo is an Italian institution which has fueled many festive evenings since its inception in Turin approximately 200 years ago. Since then, the practice has spread throughout Italy and inspired several neighboring countries to follow suit in this most spiritually productive of cultural customs.
A simple translation would suggest that the aperitivo is an aperitif, or pre-dinner drink. However, the aperitivo is much more than that, and has evolved to encompass the early evening ritual of going out for a drink before a meal, accompanied by light snacks that are provided along with your drink.
Some of the most popular cocktails for aperitivo include the Negroni, the Spritz, the Campari, and the Rossini. If you are looking for wine, then a glass of prosecco or a crisp white wine should do the trick. The idea is to stimulate the appetite with a drink that is not too heavy or too high in alcohol content.
As is the case with most Italian dining institutions, the food is generally high quality, and can range from simple breads to fresh sausage to an entire cheese plate with honey. For the light eaters and students among us, the snacks provided at aperitivo can very well constitute dinner, thereby increasing the available budget for additional wine. Alternatively, you could move on to a full-service restaurant for the rest of the evening.
As I looked over the recipes from Frijenno Magnanno, my eye immediately went to “Bucatini alla napoletana,” and I knew right away that it would be the first recipe I’d try. Similar to spaghetti, this thick, hollow noodle ranks high among my favorite pastas. I also had a can of whole tomatoes sitting on my counter, waiting patiently to be used, so I knew this dish would be the perfect way to ease in to this cooking adventure.
Bucatini is traditionally used in Lazio, making up many a Roman pasta dish like the infamous Bucatini all’amatriciana. It’s likely that this napoletano recipe is a derivation of the famous dish, minus the addition of guanciale, or pancetta. If you are unable to find bucatini at your local grocery store, it might be found under the label “perciatelli.”
Translating the original recipe was easier than I was anticipating because there wasn’t any dialect to deal with although I’m not completely reassured. I’ve snuck a few peeks at upcoming recipes and I feel more than a little intimidated! But today, all I had to do was boil water for pasta and put together a simple sauce.
Simple it was, but also so tasty. The sautéed garlic adds depth of flavor and peperoncino adds a faint and enjoyable heat. But by mixing a large handful of the fresh parsley into the sauce at the last-minute, the dish was transformed into a refreshing meal that had a crisp finish and had the unmistakable taste of spring. This dish is a classic example of Italian cooking minimal ingredients yielding amazing flavor. You won’t find this recipe in any mainstream Italian cookbooks or restaurants; it’s not well-known outside of the Naples area at all. It’s a treasure that has been passed down from generation to generation and survived not because of its commercial success, but because of its traditional comfort and good taste. I’ve translated a version into English for you to try at home. Don’t substitute dried for fresh parsley it simply will not be the same.
Bring a pot of salted water to boil and add the bucatini. Cook until al dente and then set aside. In a separate pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté several cloves of garlic until they reach a golden brown coloring. Add in a can of whole tomatoes with some red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and cook over high heat until excess liquid is reduced. Wash the fresh parsley and add it to the sauce once it has finished cooking. Combine the sauce with the bucatini, garnish with extra parsley and enjoy!
The sweet and yeasty dough of the babà rum cake is soaked in a syrup of lemon or orange juice and rum, and can be found in all of Campania. It is most popular in Naples, the city of its origins, and every pasticceria will have a selection of these mushroom-shaped cakes displayed behind the counter window and sold fresh. When ordered, the banconista drizzles it with more sweetened rum and tops it with a dollop of whipped cream. These treats are most often found in bakeries and pastry shops instead of in a nonna’s kitchen because of the time-consuming baking methods involved.
The origins of babà rum are difficult to pinpoint. Many countries have a form of this cake, seen as baba au rhum in France, babka in Poland, and even America’s sticky buns, all of which are similar in recipe and method. The true origins of this cake follow a winding path in history that, most likely, begins with the Polish king Stanislas Lesczinski (1677 – 1766), exiled to France to become the Duke of Lorraine. As one legend tells it, while eating his gugelhupf, or bundt cake, he dipped it in rum, set it aflame, and deemed his new dessert babà rum after his favorite literary character Ali Baba from One Thousand and One Nights. The name may also have come from a variation of the slightly derogatory Polish word for old lady, “babka,” because the cake mold resembles the folds of an old lady’s skirt.
How the babà rum traveled from the Polish court in Lorraine to Naples is another tale of conjecture. During the Bourbon Period of Naples (1734 – 1860), Maria Carolina, wife of King Ferdinand I, was impressed by her sister Marie Antoinette’s cuisine in Versailles. Maria Carolina sent for her own French cooks to populate the royal kitchen in Naples, and with them they brought the babà rum. Whatever the exact origins are, the babà rum has since been a popular dessert throughout Campania, and is now as much a part of Naples as pizza is.
Gran Caffè Gambrinus
Piazza del Plebiscito 1, Via Chiaia 1-2, Napoli 80132
Tel. +39 0814 17584
Hours: 7:00 am to midnight
Via Casanova 97, Napoli 80319
Tel. +39 0815 545364
Piazza San Domenico Maggiore, 19, 80134 Napoli
Tel. +39 0815 516944 or +39 0815 517031
Via San Pasquale, 24 a Chiaia, 80121 Napoli
Hours: 7:30 am to 8:30 pm
The grape variety biancolella is found in the land surrounding the Gulf of Naples in Campi Flegrei, Sorrento, the Amalfi Coast, and the islands of Capri and Ischia. Of these areas, Capri, Ischia and Campi Flegrei have attained DOC status. The biancolella is used as the primary grape variety in some white wines, as well as a blending variety with other grapes. The finished product is a dry, white wine with fresh yet subtle fruit hints and a touch of almond finish that pairs beautifully with local fish entrees. Two wines with a high percentage of biancolella, or about 85%, are Casa D’Ambra Forestera (DOC) and Cantine Pietratorcia (DOC). The blend of biancolella and forestera also produces a sparkling wine.
It is on the island of Ischia that the biancolella grape is cultivated the most. The salty sea winds, ashy, volcanic soil, and high elevations on Ischia have contributed their environmental elements to the cultivation of this grape known only to these areas in Campania. Ischia has limited land to offer within its island confines, and biancolella grapevines are seen growing on terraces. To harvest them, a rack-and-pinion trolley is accelerated along a monorail, and the grapes are harvested by hand, very carefully. As with aglianico, this biancolella grape variety is also said to have first been brought over and cultivated by the ancient Greeks. Overall, this wine is by no means rare, though it can be hard to come by due to its specific geographic location. Thus, the biancolella is yet another reason to visit the windswept views of Ischia, the sparkling waters of the Gulf of Naples, and the sweeping vistas of Campania.
Vineyard Adventures is happy to provide tours to wineries to discover biancolella. Send us an email
Books, Madison. 1,001 Foods to Die For. Andrews McMeel Publishing 1 Nov 2007.
Garwood, Duncan and Josephine Quintero. Naples and the Amalfi Coast. Lonely Planet 2005.
Gold, Susannah. “Italian Indigenous Varieties: Biancolella Bianca From Campania.” avvinare.
Hawkins, Anthony. Winegrape Glossary.
“I Vini Campani.” Ristorante President Pompei. Paolo Gramaglia 2004.
Snodgrass, Mary Ellen. Encyclopedia of Kitchen History. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis Books, Inc. 2007.
Succulent and juicy with a layer of crisp crackling, it is impossible to resist the siren call of freshly roasted porchetta. Though the dish has since spread throughout the country, it originated from central Italy, where it is ubiquitous in butcher’s shops, and commonly sold on the streets. During holiday fairs and festivals, large crowds of people will queue in front of food trucks for a porchetta panino, or bring porchetta slices along for a summer picnic.
To make porchetta, the inner organs and bones are removed from a whole pig, then the meat is rolled, heavily salted, and layered with aromatic herbs—usually rosemary, fennel and garlic. Next, the roll of meat is bound and roasted on a spit in an oven. Traditionally, porchetta is cooked in a wood-burning oven, but this is more difficult to clean and results in uneven cooking, so nowadays stainless steel ovens are popular. After cooking, the porchetta is put on display to attract the attention of passerbyers yearning for a taste.
Fans could argue all day about who offers the best porchetta, or even what region the boasts the best style of porchetta, but the town most frequently associated with the meat is Ariccia, located in the foothills southeast of Rome. Every fall, during the first weekend of September, Ariccia hosts a Sagra della Porchetta, or Porchetta Festival. The fair has been taking place annually since 1950, and offers a packed program of concerts, street performers, fireworks, and of course, all the porchetta you can eat.
Next time you pass a butcher’s shop with a sign labeled “porchetta oggi” (porchetta today), be sure to stop in for a fragrant slice of porcine candy!
Sagra della Porchetta
September (first weekend)
I once asked a Campanian chef which book I should pick up to learn Neapolitan cooking. His suggestion was Frijenno Magnanno. I’m not quite sure what I was looking for when at the bookstore, but I do know I passed over the cover at least 10 times.
I was living with 3 other people under the age of 35 at the time and they were all very fascinated with my excitement of finding this collection. “Oh, that book? My grandmother has that book.” At least they were nice enough to explain to me that frijenno magnanno essentially means “fry it and eat it” in Neapolitan dialect.
Although they seemed not to care, for me it was perfect. It feels like the cookbook one would get at a county fair in Nebraska. There are no chefs involved, its a collection of recipes that came from the neighbors, complete with the names of those who submitted the recipe. I didn’t really know any Italian grandmothers at the time and thought this would be a grand way to learn the traditional recipes and take advantage of the Pignasecca market that was a short walk from my apartment.
Needless to say, I spent far too much time trying to find the best way to attack the project, seeking The Perfect Apostrophe, and before I ever got started, it was time to leave Naples for low season.
I’ve decided there is no perfect or elegant way to execute this project. Quite a few of the recipes are in dialect, some ingredients are amazingly hard to find in the standard American supermarket and some of the recipes seem a little to simple to highlight in a blog post (Rabbit in Beer: open beer, pour beer in pot, boil rabbit).
So starting next week, I and the contributors are flipping coins, drawing straws and just opening to a random page and hoping to bring you a classic Neapolitan recipe.
Does anyone have a dialect dictionary I can borrow?