By Alessandra Bianco, MA 2013-14.
The region of Marche, located in Central Italy has a long coastline and a mountainous interior. The region has a largely agricultural heritage, though in recent years the focus has shifted to also include traditional crafts, which have evolved into thriving small businesses and brands that are now known internationally. This agricultural history, however, is reflected in the regional dishes that you can find here. Perhaps an end of summer seaside getaway to sample the local specialties is in order?
Prosciutto di Carpegna DOP – Carpegna was once a village in the Roman municipality of Pitinum Pisaurense. This cured ham, named after the village, is salted and naturally aged. The pink meat has a unique, sweet, and fragrant scent. Carpegna is delicate in flavor. The outside of this ham is covered in a small amount of fat.
Tagliatelle– long thick pasta with meat sauce.
Passatelli– strands of pasta made from breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and egg cooked in broth.
Ravioli marcesi– fried ravioli stuffed with chestnuts, cream and ricotta cheese.
Vincisgrassi is the “progenitor” of all lasagne on the Italian peninsula. Vincisgrassi is one of the signature dishes from Le Marche, and is also the Italian name of the Austrian general, Prince Windischgratz, who was commander of the Austrian Forces stationed in the Marches in 1799. The dish was allegedly created for the prince by a local chef. A classic Italian recipe for pasta baked with parma ham, mushrooms, tomato and cream, layered like the lasagna we are familiar with today. Today, vinvisgrassi has evolved to sometimes include chicken béchamel or white sauce and Ragù.
Brodetto, a fish soup containing 14 different types of fish, it is often enhanced with tomatoes (in the cities of Pesaro and Ancona) or saffron (in the city of Ascoli)
Bastoncini di pesce– fish fingers (sticks)
Thin spaghetti dressed with vongole, or baby clams, is always good here as is spaghetti allo scoglio, “on the rocks” dressed with seafood.
Ciambellotto con i funghetti all’anice- a ring-shaped cake with anise
Cicerchiata- deep fried dough with honey.
Castagnole– Little fried dough balls traditionally flavored with the aniseed liqueur mistral. Essentially catagnole are made up of a an egg and fat enriched dough, which contain baking powder, flavored with aniseed liqueur (or another type of liqueur) and lemon zest, and fried till golden. They are the typical pastry served during Carnivale.
Salamino di Fichi– This particular sweet is presented in the same shape as salame, but made with figs. It’s a regional dessert that is very common in Le Marche, and has a filling made with almonds, nuts and figs (the main ingredient).
Fritto misto all’ ascolana, a medley of stuffed olives, cream, zucchini, artichokes and lamb chops – all fried.
Pecorino sheep’s cheese from Talamello wrapped in walnut leaves and ripened in caves formed by limestone and calcium
Grigliata mista di carne– enormous platters of charcoal-grilled meat.
Lonza– salt-cured fillet of pork
Ciauscolo – a soft, spreadable pork salame.
Piccione Ripieno- Stuffed pigeons with fennel
Coniglio in Porchetta– rabbit cooked with fennel
Lumache– Stewed Snails
Fave– Raw broad beans.
Formaggio di fossa – a strong flavored cheese aged by being walled up in limestone holes in the ground
For more info on food in Le Marche, check out this site: http://www.italia.it/en/discover-italy/the-marches.html
Photo by travelplan.it