APT Basilicata

APT Basilicata

Basilicata turistica

Gastronomy

Basilicata is a land so rich in culinary traditions that it offers a great deal to anyone interested in wine and food. Pride of the region, Lucanian cuisine is traditionally an intelligent blending of simple and genuine products, far from the sophisticated, elaborated modern cooking. It is important to consider that only olive oil is used in the preparation of most dishes, while butter is used rather like cheese. Despite the similarities with certain dishes from adjacent regions, the originality of the Lucanian cuisine lies in its capacity to extract flavours from the simplest ingredients and to blend seasonings in such a way as to enhance the flavour of even the poorest dishes. Vegetables are often enjoyed as a first course, either alone or accompanied by legumes or pasta: fava beans and chicory; almond skins with turnip tops; field chicory in broth. Legumes, cereals, vegetables and aromatic herbs form the basis of foods that are characterized by a strong, yet harmonious flavour. Pasta traditionally made by hand using only hard-grain flour, salt and water is a Lucanian invention. In his 6th Satire, Horace, the Latin poet born in Venosa in 65 B.C., tells the story of returning to his native village to eat the 'Lucanian' soup made of chickpeas and leeks. According to gastronomic experts, this is the first written reference to pasta. The choice of hand-made pasta is almost unlimited in the region and comes in various shapes and forms locally known as: fusilli, lagane, maccaroni, capunti, cavatelli, calzoni (folded-over pizza), orechiette ('little ears'), strascinati, etc. Cheeses are a recurrent motif on the table. They are all of optimum quality, above all those derived from goat's milk. The Lucanian 'pecorino', a blend of 70% sheep's milk and 30% goat's milk which is aged from three months to one year is an exceptionally flavourful cheese. Other cheeses still produced by traditional methods are equally interesting: ricotta, burrata, mozzarella, scamorza, manteca, various provolas (fresh buffalo-milk cheese), caciocavallo (gourd-shaped cheese from southern Italy) and cacioricotta. The creation of a mark to guarantee the origin of some of the goat cheeses is currently being considered. Another Lucanian gastronomic invention is a sausage known in Italy as 'lucanica' or 'lucanega'. Already known in ancient Rome, its flavours were celebrated by Apicio, Cicero, Marziale and Varrone. Excellent qualities are produced in all of the inland areas of Basilicata and they can be eaten fresh or dried or even preserved in olive oil or lard. 'Sopressate', pork sausages cut with the point of a knife, dried and preserved in extra-virgin olive oil are an excellent example of careful production. If possible, try to taste the so-called 'pezzenta', derived from pork scraps, or the sausages in lard. Meats traditionally used are mutton and goat and are grilled, braised or baked. Their preparation requires considerable cooking skills in determining the correct proportion of ingredients and in timing the cooking. 'U cutturidd' (braised mutton), an old, traditional shepherd's dish, is prepared in a ‘terra-cotta’ recipient (as tradition requires) or in heavy aluminum pans. 'Ragu di carne' (meat sauce), an ideal condiment for many kinds of pasta, is prepared by using three different kinds of meat (lamb, pork and kid). Meat is usually browned and then cooked in a seasoned tomato sauce. The result is an exceptionally delicious dish. Bread is still an essential part of the Lucanian table. Many varieties are produced, all made of hardgrain flour, yeast, salt and water. It is baked in the many existing wood-burning ovens found throughout the region. The characteristic of this bread is the golden colour and fragrant flavour, which remains even several days after its preparation. Peperoncino (hot red pepper), widely used in the region, is always added in correct proportions to remain pleasant even to those who do not enjoy highly-seasoned food. Another particularity is the 'lampascioni', a variety of wild onion having a distinctive flavour. They are eaten alone or in combination with other dishes. We must also point out the existence of optimum mineral waters which flow from springs along the slopes of Mount Vulture and are characterized by incomparable organoleptic and curative powers. In Potenza there is a particular 'gassosa' (fizzy drink) that should not be missed. Seasonal fruit cheers up every good Lucanian table: citrus fruit, strawberries, raspberries, peaches, pears and grapes are only some of the varieties cultivated on the plains around Matera. Traditional regional desserts are made with simple ingredients, combined in a most original way: such as the 'calzoncelli', a sweet filled with chickpeas mixed with sugar and bitter cocoa, or such as the 'sanguinaccio', prepared with pork's blood, cooked must, dark chocolate, raisins, lemon rind, cinnamon and sugar. These products, prepared primarily for home consumption, are not easy to find. The vast majority of these dishes and products can be found in nearly all of the restaurants in the region.


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