This is an excerpt from the book “Umbria“
One of the smallest regions of Italy, Umbria is still unspoiled and peaceful, looking today just as it did when the Renaissance painters immortalized it. The cooking is based on family traditions with fresh and natural flavors that make Umbria food a household tasks experience.
The repertoire of pasta dishes is similar to that of neighboring regions. In the Umbria food there are three local specialties, however: strascinati and umbrici, both long, thick spaghetti, and ciriole ternana. These are fairly thick tagliatelle made with a dough that contains water as well as eggs, and dressed with oil, garlic and a soupcon of chili pepper.
In Umbria food, pasta is often flavored with a grating of the local black truffles, found around Norcia. But most local restaurants now serve the black truffles sliced on a plain risotto richly dressed with butter and Parmesan, a dish borrowed from the cuisine of Lombardy for this purpose.
Not to forget in Umbria food is chocolate, that has made Perugia, the capital of the region, famous all over the world.
Specialty Umbria Food
The prized black Norcia truffle is gathered from bases of oak, holm oak and walnut trees in the hills and mountains around Norcia and Spoleto. Covered by a black skin with small wart-like bumps, the truffle has a purple-black flesh with distinctive white veins and a delicate scent. Unlike white truffles, which can only be eaten raw, black truffles can be heated (but never boiled) and added to sauces, pasta and pies without losing their delectable flavor.
Cultivated since time immemorial in this part of Italy, legumes deserve almost an entire page to themselves in Umbria food. A good example is the wonderful lenticchie di Castelluccio, lentils of Castelluccio, which are the most sought-after in Italy and in recent years have become famous well beyond the borders of the country. Small and green, they contain a large amount of protein and mineral salts, and are so tender that they require no soaking. A visitor to Umbria might encounter them among the ingredients of flavorful meat stews that feature anything from rabbit to game to sausage.
Bread is an indispensable component of the Umbria food culinary tradition, and is available in all sorts of sizes and descriptions. We urge visitors to try the pan nociato, a specialty made with pecorino cheese, walnuts and pine nuts, and the local torta al testo con i ciccioli, a typical focaccia bread baked on a stone disk and stuffed with the little pieces of pork obtained when melting the fat to make lard. It’s one of the tastiest, most intriguing delicacies found in this simple, wholesome corner of the world.
Regional specialty food from Umbria includes:
- Anguille alle brace: freshwater eels marinated in white wine, pepper and bay leaf and grilled.
- Ciaramicola: eggs, lard, lemon rind and Alchermes (a spicy liqueur) go into this circular cake topped with candy-specked meringue.
- Cipollata: onion soup with tomato, salt pork, basil and grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
- Gobbi alla perugina: deep fried cardoons topped with meat and tomato sauce. lepre alla cacciatora hare braised in red wine with sage, bay leaf and garlic.
- Minestra di farro thick soup of spelt with onion, tomato, celery and grated pecorino.
- Palombacci alla ghiotta: spit-roasted wood pigeons with an elaborate sauce of wine, lemon, vinegar, sage, garlic, rosemary, juniper berries and chicken livers
- Spaghetti alla nursina: black truffles heated in olive oil with a hint of garlic and anchovy flavor this special pasta from Norcia.
- Stringozzi al pomodoro: handmade noodles with tomatoes, black olives and garlic.
- Tegamaccio: stew of freshwater fish–pike, carp, tench, eel–with garlic and peppers.
- Torcolo: sponge cake with raisins and candied fruit, specialty of Perugia.