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Zooming in on the traditional foods and great wines of the Abruzzo’s courtly cuisine 

Thursday, 24 February 2022 10:33

The traditional foods and wines of the Abruzzo personify the grandeur of this region’s medieval and courtly cuisine.  One example is the Panarda of L'Aquila, a sumptuous banquet with more than twenty courses and lasting several hours. And the diners are not allowed to refuse one single course, making this a true endurance test!

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Pasta cut on taut strings 

Among the first courses of Abruzzi tradition the Maccheroni alla Chitarra hold the place of honour. This pasta owes its name to the loom used to spin, and the dough is cut on a form which has taut strings like those of a musical instrument. The sauce is usually a ragout of lamb and pork. Slightly different is the preparation of the Maccaruni alla Mulinara for which the sauce contains wine and is made of pork, beef and lamb.

The Abruzzo is famous for its saffron

Then there is the Pecurara which has a rich condiment made of ricotta cheese, mushrooms, zucchini, eggplants and tomatoes. Fregnacce are giant ravioli stuffed with minced meat and sausages, then smothered in sauce and baked. Another typical type of pasta are the Cannarozzetti, often served with ricotta cheese and saffron. And talking of saffron, it is worth remembering that the Abruzzo is renowned for its production of this precious spice which is is used in every kind of recipe. 

Sulmona produces red garlic  

Other traditional sauces come with bacon, sautéed meat and pecorino cheese, with cream and peppers, with peeled tomatoes and snails, the Cacio e uova (cheese and eggs) sauce and the Diavola Abruzzese which is used not only for pasta but also for entrées and is made of red Sulmona garlic, hot peppers and sweet yellow and red bell peppers. Other very tasty and typical pastas, which come in large shapes and are highly recommended, are Papicci, Piringhilli, and Tacconelli.

A wide variety of soups

The variety of soups is amazing. The ingredients of the Virtù are a multiple of seven - the sum of the cardinal and theological virtues: seven types of pulses, pasta and meat! The beloved lentil soups are also excellent, from the Cicerchiata to the Sfarrata, a soup of thistles in broth and the Fracchiata, a sort of polenta seasoned with chilli and sardines. White meat broths are an offspring of peasant traditions and are served with Cordone, an original preparation made from artichoke leaves.

Rabbit is a specialty of Chieti 

White meat is used a lot in the hinterland: turkey is prepared with chestnuts or in gelatine Alla Canzanese; chicken is often served with a sauce, cooked all'Abruzzese with peppers or olives, and also with saffron, white wine and cream. Rabbit is cooked Chieti style baked with ham and butter, or filleted in a crust, with veal and pork meat, peppers and potatoes.

Fish fresh from the Adriatic Sea

There is a remarkable choice of fish, with the Adriatic Sea providing a bountiful selection. We can recommend monkfish Alla Cacciatora, mussels with saffron, and cuttlefish Alla Giuliese. Scapece Chietina is mixed fish fried, dressed with vinegar and sprinkled with saffron. Baccalà all'Aquilana is prepared with breadcrumbs, vinegar and Sulmona’s famous garlic.

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Black and white truffles 

The region has wonderful raw materials and typical products of great culinary interest like the white thistle, the Fucino carrot, the black lentil and the red garlic of Sulmona. It also produces saffron and truffles, especially the black truffles from L'Aquila and Teramo and the white truffle of Vasto. Among the cured meats we find Ventricina which is a spicy cream spread made from pork cheek and shoulder, Aquila’s salami which is stuffed with lemon and orange peel, and Torano sausage which is intense and seasoned.

Sulmona’s famous sugared almonds 

Among the desserts, don’t miss the Parrozzo di Pescara, another name invented by D'Annunzio, the Cicerchiata, fried dough pearls with candied fruit and honey,  Calgiunitti filled with chickpeas, jam and pine nuts and Sulmona’s delicious sugared almonds. 

Centerbe is a bitter with medieval origins 

To wash all this down there is the famous Montepulciano d'Abruzzo (look out for the recent DOCG Colline Teramane) or the Trebbiano d'Abruzzo if you are eating fish. Centerbe is a bitter of medieval origin distilled by the monks of the Abbey of San Clemente in Casauria and is famous all over Italy.

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