Focus On Italy
No.12 Focus On Italy
Januari 30, 2023
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Januari 30, 2023

No.12: Voce Amica

Voce Amica
Campobasso, Molise
Is there any Italian region as obscure as Molise (moh-LEE-say)? Even the tiny city-state of San Marino receives more attention from tourists and guidebooks. Yet despite this total lack of recognition, Molise has a culinary style that is interesting and diverse. And I think after you taste some of these dishes, you will share my opinion that the foods of Molise are worth remembering.

I grew up in Abruzzo, the region immediately to the north of Molise. My hometown of Polombaro is less than 50 km from the border. Before Italy united, Abruzzo and Molise were considered part of each other. The regions share similar geography: both border the Adriatic Sea and neither has a coastline with many natural harbors. Ancient Greeks ignored this central part of Italy in favor of more easily navigated Southern regions like Puglia and Sicily. They were the first of many international travelers who have missed out on some of Italy’s best food.

The mountainous terrain roughly divides the cuisine of Molise into two parts: the seaside foods, which feature the fresh seafood of the Adriatic, and interior dishes, which combine the harvest of the fertile soil with meat from grazing animals. Yet Molise cooks use meat sparingly. More often than not vegetables and cheese take center stage on the plate. Mushrooms are found all over the hilly countryside and are featured in Pollo alla Molisana, a typical “interior” dish. Molisans are fond of strong flavors regardless of the dish. You will find abundant spices and herbs in almost everything. From the garlic-rosemary pizzetta served with the Porchetta to the basil, parsley, rosemary and crushed red pepper in the Pasta all’Isolana, Molisans enjoy many flavors in a single dish. This mixture of flavors makes you feel like you have enjoyed many things in a single sitting. The coastal cuisine of the area also combines a number of diverse ingredients to create a unique flavor experience. In the Fiadoni di Pietro, shrimp, lobster, salmon and whitefish are all part of the recipe for this stuffed pasta. The ingredients in the Branzino al Forno, seabass, artichokes, cherry tomatoes and white wine are all baked together to create a wonderful blending of flavors. Molise is not what would be call a wealthy region; there is little industry other than the local specialty, the manufacture of church bells. But the lack of atttention doesn’t seem to bother the people I know from Molise. They seem pretty content to enjoy the fruit of the sea and the harvests of their forests all by themselves. Buon Appetito!

Linguine Mare Chiaro
The Trifora, Vermosa, Basilicata

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