Ricette di osterie e di porti marchigiani

~ Valerio Chiarini Antonio Attorre (author) More about this product

By Kyle Phillips

Ricette di Osterie e di Porti Marchigiani, is an interesting little book put out by Slowfood Editore, a commendable organization dedicated to fine dining and resisting the encroachments of the fastfood vendors, which also publishes all kinds of excellent guides

The local diet was, they say, almost exclusively vegetarian for the vast majority of the population living inland - shepherds and farmers - and though fish did play a part in the coastal cities, the pickings were still primarily vegetarian: The farmer of the Marche is quite restrained at the table, not so much from necessity as from habit. So much that the families of tenant farmers who enjoy a certain prosperity don't eat much more than those who tighten their belts in the face of hunger. Polenta made from corn, seasoned with oil, cheese, lard, onions, ricotta, tomatoes, greens, legumes, etc.; bread made from a mixture of cornmeal and flour, wine only in the periods of greatest exertion, and salt pork only occasionally: this is the diet of our farmer. Cuts of veal, lamb or chicken only appear at holiday meals and wedding banquets, and then the portions are so lavish that every guest takes something home with him . Though there is more prosperity now, the traditions still shine through.

There's still lots of polenta, wild herbs, especially fennel in the mountains, mushrooms, including truffles (they were once called farmers' cash, because the farmers could sell them to raise cash in the late fall when little else was growing), snails, which were especially popular on meatless days inland where the only fish available was baccalà, and greens. Greens everywhere. Meats do appear more frequently now than they used to, but certainly don't predominate. And fish does of course does play an important role in the diet in the coastal areas, though many of the recipes include ingredients that reveal close ties to the land, for example wild fennel fronds.