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Tradition: The Secret Ingredient To Umbrian Cuisine –
Foodgasmic Tales From The Road

by Meg and Tony · 11 comments

Fabio doing what he loves!

To help kickoff our new Foodgasmic Tales From The Road series, I have asked several friends from our recent Travel Blogger Unite (TBU) conference in Umbria to share with us their favorite dishes from the region. This article will be lauched next Saturday and I cannot wait to read about all the scrumptious dishes that were consumed… And as someone who was on this trip, you can trust me when I say that we ate A LOT of outstanding food.

But before we share all of these great tales, I wanted to first hear from the incredible tour guide from our TBU Food, Wine & Handicrafts post conference trip, Fabio, on what his most cherished dish is from his home in Umbria.  

He graciously agreed to be featured in this week’s guest post and I hope you are as inspired as I was when I read about his love for Umbrian food.  

Here is a little sneak peak from Fabio on the cuisines of Umbria and our wonderful food and wine tour through the region:

Tradition: The Secret Ingredient To Umbrian Cuisine

By Fabio “deDA!” degli Esposti

When I talk about food (in particular, traditional cuisine), it’s hard for me pick out one specific favorite. The great wonder of food for me is not in one isolated flavor or ingredient, but in that magic alchemy of heart and palate when I find myself in front of the perfect dish at the perfect moment.

In that vein, I’d like to begin by thanking all the ladies (and they were all women!) who, on each stop of our tour in Umbria, worked just that gastronomic alchemy:

The ladies of Bevagna, who showed us the town’s Roman remains and then served us sweets and drinks spiked with spices used by the ancients; The ladies at Lungarotti Winery in Torgiano, who fried us up arvoltoli in the rolling fields outside while we snacked on rustic porchetta, fava beans, and pecorino sheep cheese;

Arvoltolo with fava beans

The ladies of Montefalco, who created the atmosphere of a grandmother’s kitchen, despite our chic surroundings in the contemporary Arnaldo Caprai Winery.

Umbrian cooking demo at Arnaldo Caprai Winery

And last, but not least, Jennifer of Terre Margaritelli Winery, which was perhaps the most meaningful stop for me.

Not because Jennifer is a more talented chef than the others, but because her handmade “strangozzi” pasta with stinging nettles pesto instantly transported me back to when I was a child. Each spring, my grandmother would take me to the fields outside of town (which seemed like a huge excursion at the time, but was, in truth, just minutes away), where she would pick field greens (and I would feel like an intrepid explorer), and then we would head home where my grandmother would hand-roll pasta just like Jennifer’s (a true art) and serve it tossed with her greens.

Delicious Strangozzi Ortiche

In Jennifer’s humble dish (“strangozzi” and stinging nettles are part of what we call “cucina povera”, or poor cuisine), I found what I love most about food: tradition that we breathe, we absorb, and that become part of us.

You can come across this alchemy in a short visit to Umbria, or you can find it living, as I have, for decades immersed in these cultural and culinary traditions. But it takes a special person like Jennifer to create it, as she did for our visit, and this is why that meal will remain in my heart for years to come!

About Fabio

Fabio degli Esposti  has the best job in the world:  Promoting Umbria’s food and wine in Italy and abroad. He also has the second best job in the world: Deejaying at private clubs and parties.

He was happy to spend a few days with a group of international travel bloggers in April sharing his favorite wine-country stomping grounds of Bevagna, Montefalco, and Torgiano and showing off Umbria’s famous olive oil in Spello and Trevi. His dream is to find a woman who cooks like his grandmother… but looks like Sofia Loren!

Italian Version:

Premetto che quando si parla di cibo ed in particolare di cibo tradizionale è molto difficile parlare di gusti o preferenze. Per quanto mi riguarda non esiste un piatto preferito o un ingrediente preferito, c’è solo la meraviglia del palato quando  ti trovi ad assaggiare il piatto giusto al momento giusto. 

Per cui voglio iniziare cosi: con un grazie a tutte le signore (erano tutte donne!!!) che in ogni luogo ci hanno fatto trovare i cibi giusti: dalle Bevanati che hanno presentato le antiche spoglie romane della città e preparato dolci e bevande speziate ispirandosi alle antiche tradizioni, alle signore di Lungarotti di Torgiano che hanno fritto gli “arvoltoli” nell’aia mentre noi assaggiavamo la porchetta le fave e il pecorino. E ancora le signore di Montefalco che ci hanno fatto sentire a casa della nonna pur trovandoci nell’attrezzatissima cantina Caprai. Ed ultimo, ma non ultimo voglio ringraziare Jennifer e Margaritelli, dove forse ho trovato quel qualcosa in più. Non un qualcosa in più perché migliore degli altri, ma solo perché ha riportato alla mia mente un forte ricordo delle mie radici. I suoi strangozzi con pesto di ortiche, avevano tutto per evocare emozionare e deliziare.

Raccontavano il rito della raccolta delle erbe selvatiche, che nella mia infanzia, in questo particolare periodo dell’anno, consisteva in una gita in campagna (per la verità era brevissima) che mi faceva sentire un esploratore. Contenevano la sapienza della lavorazione della pasta fatta a mano, che è una vera arte.E certificavano qualcosa che sostengo da sempre: le TRADIZIONI si respirano, si assorbono e diventano parte di te. Sia che tu le viva per una breve esperienza turistica, sia che tu le apprenda vivendo i riti e i luoghi. Jennifer è sicuramente un esempio speciale di questa mia teoria.

About Meg and Tony

Alexandra May 13, 2012 at 10:57 am

Ah, Fabio!

Meg May 13, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Best tour guide ever! Group # 1 is #1 :-)

JR May 13, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Fabio, great job. You made it come alive. I look forward to my trip to Umbria and discovering all the places you mentioned. thanks

Meg May 14, 2012 at 11:27 am

Thanks JR!

ciki May 14, 2012 at 6:07 am

zomg! Pesto strangozzi pasta… i’m so jealous! Photos look terrific and I too would have loved to have met the uber talented Jennifer of Terre Margaritelli Winery!!!

Jodi May 14, 2012 at 10:59 am

Best. Guide. EVAR!

Meg May 14, 2012 at 11:26 am

Without a doubt! Thanks for linking to us in your most recent post of the Food, Wine, and Handicrafts tour BTW! Such a fun couple of days – I feel like I am still recovering from all the food/wine that was consumed.. But it was oh so worth it!

Umbria on the Blog June 4, 2012 at 3:54 am

Some of my favorite people in Umbria, all in one blog post…how could I not heart it?!?

Tony June 4, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Fabio is the best! Plus, the food and people he introduced us to were incredible! We now heart Umbria big time!

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