It is not the first (and surely, not even the last) adventure in “perugino dialect” for Ida Trotta, author of five other books about the Umbrian cuisine.
The passion of the author, that allowed her to win two challenges thanks to her own recipes, so as to teach at the Mantignana’s Easter Cake School. Ida considers food as a collective good and eating good food as an expression of education and respect: all elements which find their roots in the umbrian excellence. The Umbrian cuisine – with its rustic nobility and so hospitable, warm and relaxed (to paraphrase the author) – has demonstrated how its excellence derives from simple and genuine ingredients; it is the same simplicity that today distinguished chefs are looking for, removing elements from the elaborate dishes of the past. But Umbria, has always had this characteristics in its culinary tradition since ancient times. Ida describes this world recalling the typical aromas and flavors experienced during her childhood spent at her grandparents’ house.
The book continues with her personal recipes, but Perugia a Tavola is not a simple collection of recipes: every creation which belongs to the culinary tradition of Perugia, is accompanied by a presentation in verse, strictly in perugino dialect, with many curiosities about umbrian customs and traditions. Ida is also the author of the illustrations of the first part of the book which is about appetizers, bread and savory pies, pasta dishes, soups, vegetable soups, second courses, side dishes, omelettes, cured meats and desserts.
But the book reserves another surprise too. At the bottom of this recipe book, there are the Minima culinaria, poems written in the local dialect of Perugia, approved by the Academy of Donca: the “donca” is, emblematically, the peculiar inflection which characterizes the area of Perugia and which identifies, the dialect itself. The section is curated by Sandro Allegrini, author of the preface.
To close the volume, a more touristic appendix: the author selected a series of places dua se magna bene (where you can eat well): a series of restaurants selected due to their way of interpreting and presenting the same recipes of the tradition mentioned in the book. The other criterion to choose these restaurants was their ability to promote and describe the territory. In a nutshell, a unique work by Ida Trotta, a true ambassador of the Umbrian cuisine and and the “perugino dialect”.
“Perugia a tavola – Tradizione, identità, cultura”
Wash the tops of hops, dry and cut them into pieces about 3 cm long; peel garlic and spring onion and chop finely. Put the mixture in a pan for omelettes with oil, add flavor, then add the tops of hops. Cook over low heat and pour, if necessary, a drop of hot water; lightly salt, then add the beaten eggs, to which you have added a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. Let bind on both sides; the omelette can be served hot or cold.
The omelette with hops was widespread especially in the area of Terni. In dialect they call hops li lupari.
From a symbol of martyrdom to that of marriage: the curious story of the Torcolo di San Costanzo.
Studying the first centuries of Christian cult, it is easier to come across the so-called historical martyrologists, in which the names of the saints and the place of their death were reported. Later, to these lists was added the life – of the martyr or of the confessor – and a description of the death: the undoubtedly most famous document is the Geronimian Martyrology.
The Antonines and the anti-imperials
In this ancient document, compiled in Rome in the fourth century, the name of San Costanzo appears, one of the three patrons saint of the city of Perugia together with San Lorenzo and Sant’Ercolano. Traditionally celebrated on January 29th and therefore called “the saint of the great cold”, to indicate the low temperatures of the period. The first Christians were persecuted for their anti-imperial attitude, responsible for a rather tense civil climate, in short, for political crimes. This is the case of Constantius, the first bishop and protector of Perugia.
The consul Lucio made him immerse in a cauldron of boiling water, from which the future saint came out practically unharmed; after being taken to prison, he managed to escape by converting the keepers. Arrested again, he was condemned to beheaded, a penalty that was imposed around 170 in Foligno, in a place known as Il Trivio. It seems that in this area – called the Campaign of Saint Costanzo, there was a church dedicated to him, demolished in 1527.
After martyrdom, Costanzo’s remains were moved to a place called Areola, outside Porta San Pietro in Perugia, and there they found burial. The church, named after him, was consecrated in that area in 1205. It is in that same building that the unmarried girls, every 29 January, asked the image of the saint about their possibilities to get engaged and to marry.
It seems that, for particular games of refraction, the Saint winks at girls destined for marriage, but only to those unmarried and virgins. For the others there was a consolation prize, necessarily donated by the engaged couple: the Torcolo di San Costanzo.
La luminaria, photo by Umbria24
Forms that speak
The shape of this bundt cake, enriched with tasty as rare ingredients, candied citron, raisins, pine nuts, aniseed seeds, recalls a wedding ring; but other interpretations state that it represents the crown of flowers affixed to the reconstituted body of Constantius: a necklace of precious stones untied during the decapitation. For some scholars, the shape of a donut would have only facilitated transport during fairs and markets: you could put several “torcoli” along simple poles. And perhaps, it is no coincidence that San Costanzo, in the official iconography, is represented with a stick. A further interpretation assimilates the hole to the cut neck of the saint, while the five incisions on the surface, which reveal the precious composition, recall the five entrance doors of the city of Perugia. Five are also the gifts donated, every year, by the civil authorities.
Symbols of concord, the laurel wreath from the Municipal Police, the candle from the Mayor, the incense from the Parish Pastoral Council, the “holy wine” and the “torcolo of San Costanzo” from the local artisans, are offered before the traditional illumination inside the Basilica. To follow the Great Fair takes place in Borgo XX Giugno and, of course, the tasting of the delicious torcolo.
The recipe (by Rita Boini)
500 g of flour
125 g of sugar
100 g of olive oil
75 g of candied cedar made into small pieces
125 g of raisins
50 g of pine nuts
12 g of aniseed seeds
30 g of brewer’s yeast
A pinch of salt
Pour the flour on the pastry board, place inside the yeast dissolved in a little ‘warm water, knead the whole flour with warm water in sufficient quantity to obtain a dough from the consistency of the bread and place it in a terrine capable. Cover with a clean cloth and keep it in a warm place away from drafts, at least until the dough volume is doubled. Pour it on the pastry board and add the other ingredients. Work well and give it the shape of a donut, which you will place in a greased pan. Let rise for two to three hours, then bake at 180 °and cook for 40-45 minutes.
The torcolo of San Costanzo was consummated in Perugia on 29 January, in the Patron Saint’s day, Sometimes it was prepared at home, but more often it was bought from bakers, as this is a typical baking cake. The girls from Perugia used to give one, as a gift, to their boyfriend on this occasion. The custom of the torcolo of San Costanzo is still felt in the city and, even now, that it is on the market all year round, on 29 January bakeries and pastry shops are filled with torcoli. Other similar cakes are the torcolo of San Biagio, in Pianello, where it is prepared on the saint Patron’day: 3rd February saint is prepared and the torcolo of St. Joseph, which is consumed in Montone. It differs from the first two only because of the lack of aniseed and due to the fact that it is not consumed for the feast of the patron saint.
Trotta, Diary (gastronomic) of Umbria, Perugia, Aguaplano, 2011.
Voltaire, Philosophical Dictionary, 1764, in https://www.scribd.com/doc/98861647/Voltaire-Dictionary
Prepare a normal cornmeal mush. Place a peeled garlic clove in a saucepan with a little oil; let it flavour, then add the sliced mushrooms. Add salt and let them lose excess water for 10-15 minutes. In a pan, put the remaining clove of garlic and remaining oil, let it fry and add the ribs broken in two. Leave to brown, sprinkle with wine and, when it has evaporated, add the tomato puree and mushrooms. Add salt and pepper and finish cooking. Turn out the polenta, cover with the sauce and serve.
Cornmeal mush with pork ribs and mushrooms is typical of the Terni area, but it is eaten all over Umbria. In the past, only wild mushrooms were used.
Cut the meat into small pieces, chop onion, carrot and celery, place it in a pan with butter, oil and then fry. Add the meat and the bay leaf, let it brown, then add salt and pepper and finish cooking. Grind the meat and their cooking sauce, let cool and then add the Parmesan, eggs and a piece of butter. Put the dough on the stove for a few minutes, adjusting with salt and pepper. Prepare a dough and, with the filling in many balls, prepare the cappelletti.
These cappelletti, whose dough in more recent times someone has begun to add the mortadella, they are served in stock on Christmas day. The broth was, inevitably, made with capon. In any case, a good meat broth is essential. The processing of cappelletti began a few days before Christmas and they made large quantities, so that they could be enough for several days. In Gubbio rich families did, and in some cases still do, cappelletti according to a recipe that Cùnsolo considers the richest stuffed pasta expressed by Italian cuisine. In addition to boiled capon meat, from which the broth is made, enter into the stuffed pork loin, sausage, pigeons and beef brains.
Per gentile concessione di Calzetti – Mariucci Editore
peel (only the orange part) of untreated half-orange
½ glass of extra virgin olive oil
Put the black olives to dry in a cloth bag, and attach it near a source of heat (one time it was near the fireplace). Let it rest for at least 8 days, then put the olives in a bowl and pour over boiling water. Leave them rest for a couple of hours, then drain them and dry them. Season with minced garlic and orange peel, oil and salt. Mix well and place in a glass jar. They can be stored for a month.
Place water in a medium size pan, together with peeled lemon slices and a spoonful of vinegar. Add salt, bring to the boiling point, then immerse offal for a few minutes. Drain. Chop onion, carrot and celery and fry them in a saucepan together with a few tablespoons of oil. Combine the offal, cook for ten minutes in medium heat and salt. Take offal from the casserole, take them to mince, along with capers and juniper berries, and cook the cream. Add salt, add a few drops of oil, if necessary, and bake for another 8 to 10 minutes. Cover slices of slightly baked bread with this delicious cream.
Canapées with chicken offal or chicken rigaglie are spread throughout Umbria and are typical dish of central Italy. They could be made in several ways, depending on the areas and families. In some modern versions, you can also cut some pickled gherkins together with the other ingredients. At least until 1940, for example during wedding or during threshing period, canapées were made with goose giblets. They put in a saucepan a chopped onion, carrot, celery, sage, lemon peel, and a few spoonfuls of oil. They made them fry lightly, then they added chopped goose giblets, let them season, and in the end they put salt, pepper and a spoonful of vinegar. When the vinegar was evaporated, a drop of dry white wine was poured and they cooked it for about 40 minutes, pouring occasionally a drop of white wine. Giblets where then minced with their cooking bottom, mixing for a while, and finally they obtained a cream that was to be spread on a slice of bread.