Fractus Europa – short stories set across EUROPE
A book, a meal and a place – UMBRIA, ITALY
30th May 2020
A book, a meal and and a place – Umbria, Italy.
Here at TripFiction we love to bring you books with a strong sense of place, to help you see a destination through an author’s eyes. Well, we also love to tell you about food around the world and – thanks to the gastro genre in our bulging database – it’s easy to match a book with a place and its food.
First up in this mouthwatering new series….UMBRIA in ITALY.
THE BOOK – The Umbrian Thursday Night Supper Club by Marlena de Blasi
Every week on a Thursday evening, a group of four Italian rural women gather in a derelict stone house in the hills above Italy’s Orvieto. There – along with their friend, Marlena – they cook together, sit down to a beautiful supper, drink their beloved local wines, and talk.
Here, surrounded by candle light, good food and friendship, Miranda, Ninucia, Paolina and Gilda tell their life stories of loves lost and found, of ageing and abandonment, of mafia grudges and family feuds, and of cherished ingredients and recipes whose secrets have been passed down through the generations. Around this table, these five friends share their food and all that life has offered them – the good and the bad….
Umbria is known for its olive oil, salami, farro (an ancient grain), lentils, grilled meats, game birds, chocolate and honey.The meat dishes are usually lamb, pork, and game, either grilled over the fire or cooked on the spit with an abundance of herbs. But Umbrian cuisine is probably most famous for its roast suckling pig. And clearly truffles also play an important part in the region’s dishes, starting from hors d’oeuvres such as crostini al tartufo – made with black truffles, crostini alla norcina – made using anchovies, truffles and chicken liver, and chicken liver crostini – made with chicken liver, capers and a squeeze of lemon.
The region’s bread varieties, such as pan caciato, pan nociato, pane di Strettura and the unsalted bread of Terni are also an integral part of any Umbrian meal.
THE DISH – Lumachine alla Schegginese
Lumachine alla Schegginese is a traditional Italian pasta dish originating in the Umbrian town of Scheggino. It’s made with lumachine pasta, olive oil, onions, trout fillets, tomato purée, and thinly sliced black truffles. The onions are sautéed in olive oil, with the trout being cooked in the same pan, together with the tomato purée. The truffles are added after the pan has been removed from the heat. The pasta is tossed with the sauce, and the dish is ready to be served. For a full recipe, click here.
THE PLACE – Umbria
Italy’s green heart, Umbria is a land unto itself, the only Italian region that borders neither the sea nor another country. This isolation has kept outside influences at bay and ensured that many of Italy’s old-world traditions survive in Umbria today. Travel here and you’ll still see grandmothers in aprons still making pasta by hand, and front doors that haven’t been locked in living memory.
The region is best known for its medieval hilltop towns, most still beautifully preserved and dramatically set. The Etruscans, Romans, feuding medieval families and Renaissance artists have all left their own imprints, from Orvieto’s great Gothic cathedral to Assisi’s fresco-clad basilica. Nature has played its part too, contrasting the wild beauty of the Monti Sibillini with the gentle rise and fall of green hills and wildflower-flecked meadows.
We hope that has whetted your literary and foodie appetites, and transported you to bellissimo Umbria in the green heart of Italy. Where would you like us to take you next for a book and a meal….
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Andrew for the TripFiction team