Field greens and wild woodland vegetables
Autumn is a special date in Umbria: the special colors and fragrances of this season enrich the mystical, fascinating atmosphere of its ancient hamlets, but first of all it’s the perfect period to discover the wild woodland fruits of this land.
Markets, festivals, fairs and other events give the opportunity to promote the long, wise gastronomic tradition of the territory, which has created tasty typical dishes by using these products: Umbrian cuisine is rich in excellent ingredients and it uses a large variety of herbs, spices and other products of the forest.
I have already told you about 2 prestigious products like wines and the Extra Virgin Olive Oil that conquered the first DOP designation in Italy, but there are some specialties you shouldn’t miss here!
Truffles are the most precious expression of woodland ‘s production, and the finest ingredient of Umbrian gastronomic tradition; its intense fragrance is the protagonist of numerous recipes (eggs, meat, pasta, fish, cheese, oil…).
The copious woods of the region represent a rich truffle-ground that give us white and black truffles, but also 7-8 further species available all over the year.
The predominant kind is the black truffle – Tartufo Nero Pregiato Umbro – while the white one is the rarest and finest type, destined to prosperous tables.
The black truffle is the protagonist of Umbrian cookery and it’s celebrated in the National Market-show of Norcia, the most important expositive agricultural festival in Umbria: it’s held at the end of February and represents the perfect occasion to taste it and discuss about its viral role in the regional economy.
Mushrooms are used in several Umbrian recipes. Our woods are rich in mushrooms and there are numerous species: the Porcino, that is the finest one but also the hardest to find, while Turrini, Rosciole, Sanguinosi and Manine can be found easily.
In Umbria, the harvest of chestnuts represents a ritual appointment: in the farming tradition the chestnut tree was considered an important provision source of raw material otherwise difficultly available.
Maybe they aren’t so renowned and famous as other woodland products of Umbria, but they are one of the main protagonist of festivals and gastronomic events and the proud of little country villages!
These big and fleshy products can add a peculiar flavor to soups, flours and cakes, and they are going to obtain the DOC designation by the European Community.
This tradition dates back to the 12th century and it has been reconsidered during the last years; the saffron spontaneously grows on the central Apennine, and its beautiful flowers are picked up between October and November, rigorously by hand.
Particularly important are the productions of Cascia and Città della Pieve, where a consortium was born in 2002 and saffron is sold only in blades in order to guarantee its authenticity.
Spelt is the most ancient cereal we know, and during the centuries it has been a basic ingredient of farming diet, thanks to its abundance in carbohydrates, calcium and phosphorous.
It’s an healthy and natural product, recently rediscovered by biological agriculture.
The spelt of Monteleone di Spoleto is the first – and unique – kind in the world that has been rewarded with the DOP designation.
Even in Umbria, honey is an antique tradition and thanks to dedicated studies and innovative techniques it’s possible to find various types: millefiori (thousand flowers), sunflower, chestnut, acacia, sainfoin..
Here, the good healthy atmospheric condition of the territory ensures an high quality honey, which entirely expresses its nutritional and healing qualities.
But this is not all: there are certain rare specialties protected by Slow Food, an international association which works to celebrate food quality, in full compliance with the producers and in harmony with the environment and different ecosystems, counting on the learnings shield in the territory and its traditions.
I’m talking about the fagiolina of Trasimeno Lake, the fava Còttora of the Amerino area, the lentils of Castelluccio di Norcia (IGP designation), Red potato of Colfiorito, the famous Cannara onion, the Fagiolo di Cave of Foligno, that can be tested only during the dedicated festival in which the entire annual harvest is consumed, and the black celery of Trevi, produced with rigorous operations, unchanged from centuries!