Discovering the Flavours of Marche, Italy: A Culinary Adventure
Italy is famous for its delicious cuisine, and the Marche region is no exception. Nestled in the central part of Italy, Marche is blessed with rolling hills, rugged mountains, fertile plains, and a breath-taking coastline, which all contribute to the diversity of its culinary heritage. The cuisine of the Marche region is based on fresh and local ingredients, which are often prepared in simple but delicious ways. The region's fertile land and mild climate make it an ideal place for agriculture, and this is reflected in the cuisine.
The Bounty of the Sea
Marche is renowned for its seafood, which is a staple ingredient in many of its traditional dishes. The Adriatic Sea, which borders the region, is home to a wide variety of fish and shellfish, including mussels, clams, squid, and anchovies. One of the most popular seafood dishes in Marche is Brodetto, a hearty fish soup made with a mix of local fish, shellfish, and tomato sauce. This dish is often served with a side of crusty bread to soak up the flavorful broth.
Another seafood delicacy of Marche is Stoccafisso all'Anconetana, a dish made with salted cod that is soaked overnight, then cooked with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and olives. The result is a savory and satisfying meal that is often enjoyed during the Lenten season.
The Richness of the Land
In addition to its seafood, Marche is also known for its hearty meat dishes, which are made using locally sourced ingredients. One of the most famous meat dishes of the region is Porchetta, a slow-roasted pork belly that is seasoned with herbs and spices. This dish is typically served at festivals and celebrations and is a beloved part of Marche's culinary heritage.
Coniglio in Potacchio is another traditional dish from the Marche region, which consists of rabbit cooked in a tomato-based sauce. The dish is typically served with crusty bread and is often accompanied by a glass of red wine. The name "potacchio" comes from the word "pota," which means to drink, and refers to the fact that the dish is traditionally eaten with wine. The rabbit is cooked in a sauce made from tomatoes, onions, garlic, and herbs such as rosemary and bay leaves. The sauce is simmered until it thickens and the rabbit becomes tender and flavorful.
Arguably the most famous salami originating from the Marche region, particularly the Southern part, is Ciauscolo, a type of cured sausage made with pork, garlic, and fennel seeds. This soft, almost spreadable salami is often enjoyed as a snack or appetizer along with sliced bread, and is a testament to the region's love of pork.
Marche is also home to a variety of delicious cheeses, including various kinds of Pecorino and Casciotta d'Urbino. Pecorino is a sheep's milk cheese, with varying degrees of ageing, with a tangy taste, best enjoyed with a glass of wine. Particularly notable is the Pecorino di Fossa, aged for about three months in underground pits or "fossas," which gives it a unique, earthy flavor. Pecorino di Fossa has a slightly crumbly texture and is often used as a table cheese or grated over pasta dishes. The Casciotta d'Urbino, on the other hand, is a softer cheese, generally made of between 70 and 80% sheep milk with 20-30% cow's milk, with a gentler taste.
The Flavors of Tradition
Marche is a region that deeply values its culinary traditions, and many of its dishes have been passed down through generations. One such dish is Olive all'Ascolana, which are stuffed olives that are breaded and deep-fried. These savory treats are often served as an appetizer and are a beloved part of Marche's culinary identity.
Another traditional dish of Marche is Vincisgrassi, a type of lasagna that is made with layers of pasta, tomato-based meat sauce, and Parmesan cheese. This dish is often served at special occasions, such as weddings and holidays, and is a testament to the region's love of hearty and flavorful meals.
Are you hungry yet? During our trip you'll be able to ask me all about these traditional dishes, and I'll help you find the best restaurant to try them out.