Fields, green grass and spring flowers. Could it be possible to taste them in regional recipes?
Recipes and particular dishes are always bond to the territory they are coming from. In Valdagno, on the northern hills not far from Vicenza, it is possible to taste how bitter grass could be.
Woods and fields are full of a lot of kind of grass and flowers. One of them is similiar in aspect to persil but very different in features and taste. This grass is called Maresina in dialect, but its Italian name is Tanaceto Partienio.
Tanaceto is a very common herb, used in cosmetics and in pharmaceutical products, due to its anti-inflammatory properties. In my native city, Maresina is the queen of the kitchen! My granma used to prepare a sort of omelette full of Tanaceto: the taste was a perfect mix of bitter and sweet.
We make use of Maresina also to prepare something wonderful to me: a sort of salty fried pancake. Friday is market day in Valdagno and it is a common habit to go out for shopping and buy some Maresina pancake. I’m living far from home now and I can’t hide that sometimes I prepare Maresina pancake by myself, just to celebrate this common and popular tradition.
Eating herbs or cooking with particular type of grass has its own roots in a diffucult past, when only woods, hills, fields and mountains gave people something to eat.
In Spring it is normal to see many women and old ladies on their knees in the middle of the grass looking for some ‘Pisacan‘.
Pisacan is the dialect word for Tarassaco or Dente di Leone. Once cooked, Tarassaco is so bitter but it has a very special taste once paired with polenta. Try it!
Another very common herb of Valdagno and its surroundings is what we call Sciopeti. Sciopeti are also called Carleti and the scientific name is Silene Vulgaris, another common herb with flower that can be found anywhere in Europe.
Sciopeti are perfect to prepare a very good risotto. Furthermore they are suitable for a sort of cookies and omelette.
I’m so happy when Spring comes because I remember days spent with my granma, in the heart of green, looking for the taste of the fields and catching all good things that only Nature can provide.