A journey into the Marche region traditions: typical cuisine

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Olive all’ascolana e cotolette d’agnello

The Italian culinary tradition is a mosaic composed by infinitive dowels which find expression in different regions of the peninsula, from North to South, from the hinterland to the coast, reflecting the many cultural differences and different historical experiences, which for centuries have characterized and enriched the different areas with influences from other countries.
Le Marche and specifically the ancient kingdom of Picenes makes no exception, you can breathe a remarkable diversity of cultures, traditions and folklore that vary depending on the landscape in front of you: the wonderful and wild hinterland dominated by mountains towards the coast washed from the Adriatic Sea, passing through the rolling hills of the countryside.

In this “confederation of kitchens” the rural aspect of the Marche region is dominated by mushrooms, the use of olives and truffles, both white and black. This is the sublime sauce of home-made noodles, coming from the town of Pesaro, Ascoli Piceno area and Macerata. Among the PGI (Protected Geographical Indications) a must to try are maccheroncini di Campofilone, a classic Italian egg rolled pasta and then cut thin, almost to get the angel hair. The kitchen of Marche, which has a real taste in food fillings, has one of the most representative dishes in Ascoli olives or “olive all’ascolana“, already appreciated in Roman times. They owe their name to the city of Ascoli Piceno, also called the city of a hundred towers. They are composed of green olives in brine, in particular the “Ascolana Tenera” variety, stuffed inside by a tender-based compound of 3 different types of meat comminuted by hand. The use of more than one type of meat for the filling can be traced back to about 1800. At the time, the cooks who served the families of the local nobility, agreeing among themselves, invented the stuffed olives to consume large amounts and varieties of meat they had available, due to the increase of the gifts levied on peasants to their masters. They represent a culinary specialty of Ascoli territory and are one of the most representative dishes of the Piceno. They are often accompanied by other fried food as rustic, meat, vegetables (the stuffed fry includes artichokes, zucchini and lamb chops) and fried cream.

The strong hinterland dishes are made of pork, particularly valuable and tasty are the salumi. Several are also cheese and meat: among the first category famous is the pecorino, for its particular processing, seasoned in natural linen bags and stored in pits of tuff, the lifer pecorino is an excellent table cheese and can be accompanied by typical local honey and mustard handcrafted.

Stands out then the flavorful pork or “porchetta” (especially near the border with Abruzzo), here flavored with wild fennel, instead of rosemary as is the case in Tuscany and in the Castelli Romani, which gives it an unique taste.

 

fishOn the coast instead, you can enjoy a large amount of fish products. There is no question that the Marche Brodetto, more delicate than those of Veneto and Romagna and more vigorous than those of Abruzzo and Puglia, is the king of Adriatic fish soups. The “red”  version which includes tomato from Pesaro and Ancona area, diverges from the”yellow” variety with saffron of Ascoli Piceno province. The ‘capital’ of the brodetto are Fano, Ancona, San Benedetto del Tronto, Porto Recanati and Porto San Giorgio. In use between the river Conca (border Romagna) and Tronto (before Abruzzo region) there is the “potacchio”, derived from the French “potage”, which in this area does not designate a soup but a small sauce of marinated cod, chicken or rabbit.

Among Desserts like “ciambellone“, “cicerchiata” and many others a special mention must be made for the frustingo or fristingo, one of the oldest sweet Marche cuisine. It is said that more than two thousand years ago the recipe was inherited by the ancient Piceni based on the Etruscan one. Originally, what today is a typical sweet of the Christmas period, it was prepared by mixing the flours of different grains such as spelled, barley, durum wheat, spelled and wheat marzaiolo, with grape juice and then passes cooked in earthen jars. In Roman times he took on the divinity of panis Picentinus and was so famous that it was even mentioned by Pliny. The current name comes from the Latin frustum which translated means “lump” or “squat” and on this basis is identified today in the province of Ascoli as frustingo while in the nearby province of Fermo is called both Fristingo that “Mo ficusu” that is sweet figs. The figs are in fact the main ingredient of this dessert was born as a simple dish of the parties but that really is rich in natural ingredients, all strictly regional agriculture.

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