The Historical Regional Cuisines Of Italy - Abruzzo: Part I
Abruzzo is the Italian region which shares borders with the Marches, Umbria, Lazio, Molise and overlooks the splendid Adriatic Sea. Geographically, it consists in the west by a plateau lined with reliefs and carved valleys and basins and in the east by rolling and sometimes craggy hills which are crossed by numerous river terraces all the way down to the sea. The western part is bordered by an almost continuous series of high mountains: mountains of Laga, Gran Sasso, Maiella, Marsica and many more.
The eastern area has generally rounded profiles, often interrupted by erosion, which is often extremely impressive such as the Calanchi di Atri. The climate of the Abruzzo region is surprisingly continental with frequent snowfall on the hills, and with relatively low rainfall in the highlands and basins. It is not at all unusual for mountain roads to be buried in avalanches while just a few miles away on the coast, people are strolling in shirtsleeves. Marsicano bears, deer, wolves, foxes, and wild cats roam freely in the magnificent Parco Nazionale d'Abruzzo, one of Italy's most spectacular national parks which comprises the upper valley of the Sangro and some surrounding areas of the Abruzzo region. The economy of the area is essentially agricultural and pastoral. Given the nature of the area and consequently its special climate the way people live in the area has not essentially changed in thousands of years.
Among the Italian regions Abruzzo is probably the one that keeps alive its traditional culinary art to an even greater degree than its neighbors. The region's most characteristic products fully preserve the traditions, rituals, mysteries and magic of its storied culture. The historical factors of its isolationist independence is can be witnessed in the region's geography, particularly in the mountain ranges that have always separated the land of the great Latin poet Ovid, which is still so present in the culture of Abruzzo, from the world around them.
Certainly now with the construction of superhighways and the improvement of all forms of telecommunication the isolation which the region has experienced for decades is finally over, but the customs, the memories and culture of the Abruzzi region are still alive and recognizable, having boldly survived industrialization and mass tourism.
It is very clear when you see the historical traces in the countless religious rites which crowd the schedule of cities and villages and in the tenacious survival of a thousand dialects in use in spite of the barrage of television which forces upon its viewers the "official" Italian language which in areas such as this, is derided as an unwelcomed Tuscan dialect forced upon the peninsula by the hated northern industrial and political overlords.
Albeit with the inevitable upgrades, many of the recipes in use in the Abruzzi are derived from the experiences of past generations, while the method of preparation and storage of food remain, at the household level, essentially faithful to tradition. The cuisine from the Abruzzi has stayed true to its isolationist roots and has certainly benefited when we consider the authenticity of ingredients and all the typical regional products which constitute the essence of Abruzzese cuisine.
Continued in Abruzzo Part II
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