HOW TO COOK ITALIAN, AND LOOK GREAT: PART IV
Why is Roero only known by a few an how was its cuisine influenced: the influence of history.
Because of its isolation, Roero, inhabited since Roman times, by Romans, and by cavemen before them, has been bought out, and invaded, but never really conquered, pretty late by historical standards; the area has also been mostly ignored by foreign powers.
Asti’s rich, powerful lords, rich because they were bankers, bought the land in medieval times. As a matter of fact the very name, Roero, is associated with one of these families whose name was .. Roero. Most castles and “Rocche” (watch towers, when not referring to the near-vertical natural clayish cliffs) were built then, and are still here today, although in a worst shape they used to be. Asti was then a pretty busy trade route matching the goods coming from Liguria (the offer) to the needs of Northern European (the demand). Asti used to finance this trade: therefore its inhabitants had plenty of money to spend in taking over the land of their neighbours, namely the land of the “Roerini”.
Only the French have deemed Roero important enough to be worth a fight. In the process they were beaten twice by Montà’s peasants before sending one of their most brilliant generals, Nicolas Catinat, in the late 1600’s, to kill everything in sight, and subdue the local population. Needles to say, Montà’s historical revivals of these heroic times, recall only the first two attempts the French made to conquer the land.
There is not a shred of evidence that the cuisine of Roero was in anyway influenced by Nicolas Catinat, nor by his soldiers. But Roero may have influenced the French general: when he retired he became a gardener: his choosing to spend his last days working an orchard and a garden, might have been influenced by what he saw in Roero and by the quality of the food he eat here.
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