Brigolante Guest Apartments

Postcards from Umbria: I Primi d’Italia

One of the odd dichotomies stemming from the extreme regional divisions which define Italy is that you are much more likely to find a wide variety of Italian foods and ingredients in, say, New York or London or Sydney than you are in, say, Rome, Milan, or Naples. And most Italians would recognize more readily Japanese sushi or Moroccan couscous than they would Calabrian ‘nduja or Piemontese Cugnà.

Jars of red-hot nduja.

Because people interested in Italian food outside Italy are generally curious about all Italian food, but Italians themselves consider their local dishes—ideally prepared in their mother’s kitchen–the apex of their national cuisine and really only sample delicacies from other regions when they are actually visiting there. And, even then, mostly out of a sense of duty and to cement their opinion that their local dishes are the apex of Italian cuisine.

So, on the rare occasions when there is an opportunity to check out what people are eating all down the Boot, I jump at the chance. This past weekend Foligno held its annual Primi d’Italia food festival, which features pasta dishes from a variety of Italian regions. I passed on the tastings (word on the street is that the food is average and the prices high), but did check out the stands selling everything from bread from Puglia to cheese from Trentino. Great fun, lots of goodies to try at home, and a reminder of this crazy patchwork-quilt nation of histories, cultures, dialects, and—of course—foods that is Italy.

The one food that might just unite the nation: Bunga Bunga sauce.

Olives in all shapes and sizes.

Umbria holds its own in pork charcuterie.

The further south you go, the spicier the cuisine gets.

Perhaps the most picturesque booth, with its giant loaf.

 

A fun display of pasta shapes from every Italian region.

I picked up some pasta from Naples and Abruzzo. To sniffs of skepticism from the folks at home.

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Via Costa di Trex, 31 | 06081 Assisi (PG) | Italy

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