GASTRONOMIC ITINERARIES: SALERNO, CILENTO AND THE AMALFI COAST PART 2
Let's continue our journey through Salerno, the Amalfi Coast and the Cilento with new typical dishes of a prosperous territory.
SALERNO TRADITION AND GASTRONOMY
We began our journey through the Salerno and Cilento cuisine only two weeks ago. We return today to Salerno, Cilento and the Amalfi Coast to enjoy new typical dishes and local products offered by the Gulf and the Salerno hinterland. There is a bit of everything: from meat to desserts to fruits, proof of a wealth that has few equals in Italy and the world. Enjoy your reading and a pleasant journey in an important slice of Campania gastronomy.
The stuffed spleen or, precisely, ‘meveza mbuttunata, is a typical dish from Salerno, which is prepared mainly for the feast of San Matteo. Like many dishes in history and Italian cuisine belonging to the country tradition, even this dish from Salerno is made of poor ingredients. Or rather, of those discarded when slaughtering the pig.
To prepare it you need to buy:
-1 spleen skinned and cut in half
– Extra virgin olive oil (EVO)
– Chili pepper
– 1 liter of red wine vinegar
After having salted the spleen internally, fill it with minced mint, parsley, chili, and garlic. Immediately close it all with a toothpick.
At this point, take care of the sauce: fry the garlic and sear the spleen on both sides. Then add the vinegar and simmer for 2 or 3 hours, closing the pan with a lid. You are ready, but accept one last advice: eat your meveza cold.
… inde domum me
ad porris et ciceri refero laganique catinum.
(… so I’m going home,
to my plate of leeks, chickpeas, and lagane).
[Horace, Satires, 1, 6, 114]
Salerno is the main center of Cilento, and a plate of lagane and chickpeas is part of a millenary culture. Horace’s verses bear witness to a tradition that was already in use in Roman times. And above all, when we talk about the Cilento version of “lagane and chickpeas” we can be sure that the preparation has remained almost unchanged over the centuries.
The lagane are the ancestors of lasagna and are a type of striped pasta prepared with water and flour. They are similar to tagliatella but shorter and broader, once they were dried in the sun or smoked, while the Greeks cooked them separately and on hot stones.
Chickpeas, on the other hand, are those of Cicerale, known for their flavor and nutritional value. With chickpeas and laganas you can add parsley, chili, peppers, leeks and bay leaves, garlic, oil, tomato, meat or fish. In short, there are many variations (in fact, it is a dish that is also part of the traditions of Calabria and Basilicata regions).
The Irno valley and the Picentini territories offer an ideal volcanic soil for the growth of what represents the pride for all the inhabitants of Salerno, Cilento and, more generally, of the Campania region: the hazelnut of Giffoni.
The territory, in fact, represents the secret for the development of this type of hazelnut, even if the human techniques have enhanced the soils improving the product quality.
In the area, the hazelnut has been present since the third century BC, although the cultivation developed in the Middle Ages to its current size.
Today, the Giffoni hazelnut is among the most requested by the Italian industry, which uses it above all in combination with chocolate and other traditional sweets. This is due to its sweet and delicate taste, as well as to its great resistance and ease of peeling during processing.
Scazzatiello is a typical pasta of Castel San Lorenzo and is a variation of the Cilento cavatiello.
They share a similar origin. Being poor and peasant dishes, their original recipes do not include eggs. Both the scazzatiello and the cavatiello derive from medieval gnocchi but, unlike the latter, they have a hollow in the middle (to accommodate the sauce better).
Today, many use eggs and soft wheat flour, but the real recipe wants the dough to be prepared with durum wheat, water, oil, and salt. Nothing more.
After mixing the ingredients and working the dough until it is smooth and compact, let it rest for about an hour.
Then roll out the dough and cut it into small cylinders of about 1 cm in diameter. Immediately afterward, cut them into small pieces, and work each cylinder with both hands, pressing the thumbs in the center and turning the dough left and right (or above and below, as you prefer). Thus the scazzatielli or cavatielli will be obtained whose difference lies mainly in size.
In 1868, Mario Pantaleone started his own business and inaugurated his pastry shop in the deconsecrated chapel of the Souls of Purgatory.
Thus was born the scazzetta of Mario Pantaleone, which today is a tradition of Salerno. In fact, there are many families who, after Sunday mass in the Cathedral of San Matteo, stop by for the scazzetta single portion (which was born in this format and not as a cake).
The name ‘scazzetta’ comes from the dialect indicating the cardinal headgear, the Galero, which was offered by the Pope during the investiture.
What has the cardinal’s purple to do with a cake? The color. The scazzetta, in fact, is a round sponge cake, filled with Chantilly cream, enriched with wild strawberries and a strawberry icing. The icing gives the dessert its characteristic red color.
The Santa Rosa sfogliatella was born in 1700 in Conca Dei Marini, in the Monastery of Santa Rosa. It was the nuns, who in the history of Italian gastronomy have more than one credit, who also created this splendid dessert.
At that time in the convents, they tried to consume all the products available without asking outside.
Thus it was that the cook of the convent rolled out the first Santarosa with the leftover dough from the preparation of the bread. To the initial dough, she added a sort of limoncello, lard, dried fruit, white wine, and sugar: everything was cooked in a wood oven. The shape that the nun-cook gave to the preparation was like a “nun’s hood.”
Once the mother superior tasted it, the Santarosa sfogliatella became a habit within the convent that they decided to sell to the farmers of the area (through the revolving door used in the cloistered monasteries).
The dessert remained for the exclusive use of the Conca Dei Marmi area until the early 1800s, when Pasquale Pintauro, owner of a tavern in Naples since 1818, in via Toledo, could obtain the recipe. It was Pintauro who began with the Santarosa the great tradition of Neapolitan sfogliatella. The Neapolitan pastry chef changed the original recipe of the nuns a little: he created the curly pastry and added the custard and sour cherries.
This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)