This weekend I spent Easter with my extended relatives in Abruzzo. My parents were both born in the small town of Prezza in the province of L’Aquila, located about a 2 hours drive from Rome.
The town has a population of approximately 800 and is perched prettily against a mountain backdrop, surrounded by the national treasures of the Parco Nazionale d’Abruzzo, Gran Sasso and Parco della Majella. I usually hop between the nearby towns of Sulmona (where I stayed this time), Popoli and Pratola Peligna. The food in this region of Abruzzo is predominantly hearty mountain food – cucina povera – and farm produce. The sea isn’t too far, but the diet around here has its origins in farming.
Typical dishes around these parts range from cured salumi and formaggi (sheep’s milk cheese is very popular), pork (think porchetta) and lamb (especially flame grilled mutton skewers, arrosticini), spaghetti alla chitarra (cut on a board with what resemble guitar strings) to sweets like the ones Sulmona is famous for, torrone (nougat) and confetti (sugared almonds but not just white ones, the centerpiece of many Italian weddings, but even chocolate coated hazelnuts, tiramisu flavour and chocolate and pear!).
From the streets to homes to markets to restaurants, here’s what I ate over the Easter weekend in Abruzzo!
Pizza con i sfrizi (focaccia bread with pork crackling pieces)
The prelude to any arrosticini: mixed bruschette (tomato, buffalo mozzarella, lardo, black truffle, artichoke spread & porcini mushroom salsa)
Cheese and salumi board with warm, fresh ricotta
Confetti – in all shapes, colours and flavours
Brodo: traditional broth which during festivities like Easter is served with homemade croutons and often tiny meatballs and straciatella (egg drop made with cheese)
Flame grilled lamb chops and cutlets
Le canestrelle: Easter pastries filled with sweet and spiced ricotta
Signing off from Trastevere (in a complete food coma)