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Peperoni cruschi, a variety of dry pepper typical of Lucanical cuisine

The cuisine of Basilicata, or Lucanian cuisine, is the cuisine of the Basilicata region of Italy. It is mainly based on the use of pork and sheep meat, legumes, cereals and vegetables, with the addition of aromas such as hot peppers, powdered raw peppers and horseradish. The local gastronomy is, for historical-cultural reasons, typically peasant, based on simple recipes and on the culture of reuse, in particular of meat and bread.[1]

Some dishes have undergone variations and enrichments in modern times, losing the connotations of "poor" cooking which characterized them in the past. The most ancient manuscript available about Lucanian cooking dates back to 1524, by Antonio Camuria from Lagonegro, cook at the service of the Carafa family.[2][3]

Characteristics

The region is characterized by many small towns, villages and rural centers often separated by geographical barriers, therefore determining the necessity of cooking and eating what was produced on the spot, according to techniques developed on the spot. The most common recipes, passing from an area to another, from a village to another take on different connotations, and are made with different raw materials.

Pork has been a fundamental ingredient of Lucanian cooking since ancient Roman times. According to Marcus Terentius Varro, in ancient Lucania (which included most of today's Basilicata) originated the sausage, at the time called lucanica, which spread, later, in the whole national territory and from which originated the luganega, typical sausage of northern Italy.

Little used fish in the hinterland and only widespread in the limited Tyrrhenian and Ionic coasts.[4] In the past, salt cod was the most common variety in inland areas because of its long shelf life.

Among the most used legumes and cereals there are beans, chickpeas, chickling peas, broad beans, barley and spelt, which are widely used in different recipes such as crapiata and ciaudedda; and used for the production of mischiglio, a mixture of flours dating back to the sixteenth century, used for the preparation of dishes served on the tables of counts, barons, marquises and landowners of Basilicata.[5]

Fruit has always represented an essential component. Figs, in particular, were considered a versatile food: consumed both in holidays and in the most intense working periods such as harvesting.[6] Grapes, besides the production of wines, have a culinary use in the preparation of first courses (lagana chiapputa) and desserts such as pan minisc. Dried fruits, such as chestnuts, are used in many ways in first and second courses, as well as in sweets such as calzoncelli.

Peperone crusco, a variety of dried bell pepper, is a key element of the regional cooking, so much to be labeled as "the red gold of Basilicata".[7] It is consumed both as a snack and in the preparation of first courses, second courses and appetisers, such as pasta con i peperoni cruschi, baccalà alla Lucana (salt cod) and acquasale. A very used aromatic element is horseradish, defined by people from Basilicata as "poor man's truffle", historically common on the tables of labourers because of its accessible costs and its wide spreading in the territory.[8] Horseradish is a fundamental ingredient of condiments such as ndruppeche, main courses such as rafanata or by mixing it with bread and potatoes to prepare meatballs, as well as to flavor meat.

A condiment frequently found in Lucanian dishes is breadcrumbs which, in the past, was considered the "poor man's cheese", representing an alternative to more expensive dairy products.[9]

Ancient is the art of calzone, known in Basilicata with different names such as pastizz or falagone, datable at least between the eighteenth and nineteenth century.[10]

Pasta dishes

Pasta con i peperoni cruschi
Pasta con ragù alla potentina ('ndruppeche)
Tumact me tulez

Basilicata is considered the region with the highest consumption of pasta. The figures reach 42 kg (93 lb) per capita per year, compared to the national average of 24 kg (53 lb).[11] Typical pasta formats of the region are strascinati, cavatelli (also known as rascatielli), ferretti (also known as ferricelli, fusilli or frizzuli), orecchiette, maccaronara, lagane (not to be confused with lagane, better known as "lasagne"), an ancient pasta format dating back to Roman times, similar to tagliatelle but slightly shorter and thicker, and manate, a long pasta rather thick and irregularly shaped.[12]

Some notable pasta dishes are:

Secondi

Baccalà alla lucana
Gnummareddi
Rafanata

Ingredients which stand out in Lucanian second courses are pork and sheep meat, with some exceptions of chicken and fish. Among these are to be mentioned:

Other dishes

Pizza rustica lucana

Side dishes

Lampascioni, egg and cruschi peppers salad

Bread

Pane di Matera

Among the most famous bakery products offered by the region there is Matera bread, certified I.G.P. Other types of bread to be mentioned are Trecchina bread and San Severino Lucano potato bread, both recognized as traditional food products.[56]

Among the focaccias there are the strazzata, a variety with pepper; the carchiola, an unleavened corn focaccia cooked in a fireplace, both typical of Avigliano; focaccia with powdered crusco bell pepper and focaccia with honey. Other bakery products are friselle and taralli, as well as those of arbëreshë origin such as cugliaccio (kulac), a sweet linked to weddings and Easter festivities; and petulla Shën Paljit, a thin crepe with a savory taste stuffed with cheese and cold cuts.

Like other Italian regions, Basilicata also has its own version of Easter bread, which has many variations and different names such as picciddat[57] and piccilatiedd.[58] Other products of the Easter period are ficazzola (f'cazzol), panierino (u' panaridd) and bambolina (a' pipua), typical of Oliveto Lucano.[59]

Oils

Olive tree in Ferrandina

In the cuisine of Basilicata important and essential element is the oil, present in almost all regional dishes. In fact, in Basilicata, the olive tree covers over 85% of the cultivated area.[60] The areas with higher production are Vulture-Melfese, low Val d'Agri and low Collina materana.[60]

The most common quality of olives in this region is the Ogliarola del Vulture (also called Ogliarola di Melfi or Rapollese)[61] and Majatica di Ferrandina. The oil produced is mainly extra-virgin olive oil, but virgin olive oil is also produced. The predominant color of the oil is golden yellow with green reflections.

Cold cuts

Lucanica di Picerno

Typical pork cold cuts are:

Picerno is the undisputed pole in this sector, producing about 50% of Lucanian cold cuts. Typical regional cold cuts are the lucanica di Picerno, the chain sausage of Cancellara and the nuglia di Laurenzana. In Tricarico are typical products derived from black pig. Pork is also used to produce lard and sanguinaccio dolce. Wild boar is also used for the production of sausages and of borzillo (U' burzill), a spreadable sausage with sweet bell pepper paste, typical of Pietragalla.[62]

Cheese

Pecorino di Filiano

Traditional cheeses from Basilicata are:

Among the most famous types are pecorino di Filiano, canestrato di Moliterno, padraccio, toma and treccia dura (or treccione), the latter defined as "cheese of Basilicata" since it belongs to the cheese-making tradition of Basilicata, as stated in "La statistica del Regno di Napoli" (lit.'Statistics of the Kingdom of Naples') of 1811.[63]

Fruits, vegetables, and beans

Melanzana rossa di Rotonda

Typical fruits of the region are Pear Lady of Sinni Valley, Pink Fig of Pisticci, strawberries "Sabrosa" and "Candonga", and orange Staccia of Metapontino. Common types of dried fruits are almonds, pistachios (the ones from Stigliano are well known)[64] and chestnuts, in particular those of Vulture such as the marroncino of Melfi which are a central ingredient of first and second courses, desserts, liqueurs[65] and sought after by the processing industries for the preparation of marron glacé.

Among fruit and vegetables are to be mentioned the Peperone di Senise, the Melanzana Rossa di Rotonda and the Pomodoro Ciettaicale di Tolve. Legumes are widely used, such as beans (in particular the Sarconi bean, but also the ones from Rotonda, Muro Lucano and Rivello), chickpeas from Latronico, and lentils from Potenza.

Desserts

Tarallo glassato and calzoncelli
Nocetti
Scorzette

The confectionery tradition is, for the most part, simple and not very elaborated, based on easily available ingredients that the land offered. The products are, mainly, dry and of small dimensions, which allowed an easy transport and an easy consumption to the laborers during the working activities. Among typical sweets there are:

Wines, liquors and drinks

Aglianico vineyard with Mount Vulture in the background

Basilicata is one of the most ancient regions of Italy having a viticultural vocation; at the end of the XX century, 154 different cultivar denominations were registered in the municipalities of Basilicata.[83] Vines cultivated are mainly black berried. Among the most relevant wines there are Aglianico del Vulture, Grottino di Roccanova, Matera and Terre dell'Alta Val d'Agri. White wines are also produced, even though to a lesser extent, from greco and Malvasia, in particular in Vulture and Metapontino.[84]

Typical spirits are Amaro Lucano from Pisticci, elderberry liqueur from Chiaromonte and Sempre Freddo from Avigliano, made of Aglianico and black cherry; other types produced are nocino, fragolino, limoncello cream, citron and orange liqueurs. Among beverages there is Birra Morena, produced in Balvano, and the soft drink Avena from Potenza.

Mineral waters in Basilicata represent the largest reservoir in Italy, amounting to more than 30% of the national water resources.[85] The sources of Vulture, the area of greatest production, have volcanic materials that provide the spring waters with a natural effervescence, a rare characteristic in the panorama of mineral waters.[86] Among mineral waters to be mentioned are those produced by Fonti del Vulture and Gaudianello, both operating at Monticchio Bagni, a hamlet of Rionero in Vulture.

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