My last few days in Basilicata were full of exciting food. Over the weekend, my friend Stefania took me to dinner at an equineria in the small town of Bernalda, An equineria is a butcher’s shop that specializes in horse meat. Most places
in Italy will have at least one, but in Bernalda they are unusually popular. You have the option to either buy meat to cook at home or have them grill it for you. We chose to eat in, and after a couple minutes of snacking on olives, bread, and hot peppers,
our food began to arrive: carpaccio of raw horse to start, then bresaola, a dried and spiced preparation, followed by tender strips of steak and then horse sausage. As a group of 18, we probably finished half a horse! (sorry to all the animal lovers, but when
The next day we traveled to the city of Matera, which has served as the setting for several films, such as The Passion of the Christ. We went to a farmhouse outside the city that serves as a summer camp where children learn about agriculture,
wine making (!!!), and some rustic cooking. That night there was a feast to celebrate the end of the program, and in the big wood fired oven they cooked focaccia, peppers and eggplant, and several roasted meats. I heard some great stories from the camp counselors,
including one about a little girl who, seeing a live chicken for the first time, was shocked to see they only have two legs, because whenever she ate it at home her mother had always served four drumsticks!
After leaving Basilicata, my next stop was halfway up the peninsula, in the medieval town of Fermo in the Marche. The summer is the time for sagre, town festivals celebrating local dishes, and on the road to Fermo I passed dozens of signs
advertising the sagre of all the small hill towns in the Marche. My host Marianna and I had time to go to the sagra of maccheroncini, an angel hair, style pasta made with egg, and the sagra of mussels. Meanwhile, back at her home, she showed me how to make
a delicious fruit tart with peaches.
The most exciting part of my trip to the Marche, though, was the abundant availability of one of my all-time favorite snacks - olive ascolane, green olives stuffed with meat and spices, then breaded and fried. Since these are traditionally
produced in the Marche, they could be found at all the sagre and even at the beach! I've never been able to find them back home because they are so labor-intensive and tricky to make, and I can't find anyone who imports them, so I ate them at every chance
I had during my stay in Fermo.