FARMS in VERONA NEIGHBOURS
This is the most popular dish in the province. Its origins date back to the 16th century in the quarter of San Zeno. Here, according to legend, it was offered to the inhabitants on the “piera del gnoco”, a stone board that today is preserved in the garden of the cathedral next to the bust of Tommaso da Vico.
To make gnocchi mix together some flour, boiled and mashed potatoes, eggs and salt; then they are passed on a corrugated board to form the indentations that help retain the sauce. They can be accompanied with various sauces: melted butter, ragout, tomato, etc.
The tortellino has always been synonymous with Valeggio sul Mincio, and some would have you believe that it originates right here. In any case, it has certainly become increasingly different from the other kinds of filled pasta of the Lombardy and Emilia regions: the pastry is very thin thus rendering the cooking procedure a real art. Usually the filling consists of pork, but you may find some with vegetables and cheeses.
Traditionally, the tortellino should be eaten in broth, but again there are many other appetising choices, in fact, chefs are in continuous search of the most suitable sauce to enhance the characteristics of these so-called “love knots”.
Boiled meat with pearà
In the past this was the main course for special occasions, such as Christmas and the New Year’s Eve. Then, with the economical boom, it was forgotten. But now it is enjoying a revival and has become one of the most popular dishes in the Veronese gastronomy.
The boiled meat can comprise beef, veal and chicken that can be accompanied with corned tongue and cotechino (pork sausage). The pearà represents the perfect complement: it consists of a sauce made with breadcrumbs, broth, beef marrow and some pepper that gives the characteristic spicy hot flavour.
Alternatively, boiled meat can be accompanied with another sauce, the cren (horseradish sauce, quite difficult to find fresh nowadays). For the preparation of this very hot sauce, grate the horseradish root and add some vinegar to form a cream.
Pastissada de caval
This dish is popular throughout the province of Verona and boasts a very ancient tradition that over the years has almost become a legend.
Apparently, its creation can be attributed to Theodoric, king of the Ostrogoths, who often stayed in Verona although he had chosen Ravenna as the capital of his kingdom. Here Theodoric fought a very bloody battle with Odoacer, king of the Heruli.
After his victory he wanted to celebrate with the whole Veronese population and thus let the people use the flesh of the horses killed on the battlefield. According to tradition, the horses had been there for a few days and the carcasses had began to smell, so the people marinated the meat with onions, other vegetables and a lot of wine. And it worked! Thus the pastissada became one of the main courses of the Veronese gastronomy. Besides the pastissada made with horsemeat, the one with donkey meat can also be found.
This has been the most common dish throughout the province of Verona ever since the 16th century. Traditionally, it can accompany all dishes, from starters to main courses.
Despite its content of fibre, protein, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals, it has a low nutritional value.
Served while still warm and creamy, it is the perfect accompaniment to meat stews and dishes with a lot of sauce. When cooled, it can be sliced, then grilled and eaten with sausages and cheeses.
The fogassin or fugassin
Popular saying states: “no part of the pork is thrown away”. In fact, in the Veronese countryside they even recycle the water used for boiling the cotechino in the preparation of the fogassin or fugassin dessert.
The water is left to cool and then the solidified fat removed. This is mixed with sugar, eggs, flour and other ingredients that vary depending on the area (grappa, raisins or lemon rind).
The resulting thick paste is then given a round shape and put on a rack over glowing embers covered with ashes to slow down the cooking. In fact, it must be cooked very slowly for at least an hour, occasionally turning so as to bake evenly.
It is eaten cool and accompanied by a good wine.
If you are by Lake Garda, after eating you may be offered some small sweets called “Sanvigilini” made of “pasta frolla” flaky pastry with raisins. This dessert has recently been introduced in the Garda cuisine. It seems that they were first produced in Punta San Vigilio (between Garda and Torri del Benaco) by Leonard Walsh, an eccentric British who used to run an inn by the marina. Apparently, he decided to make the “Sanvigilini” when Winston Churchill stayed at San Vigilio after the Second World War, as an accompaniment to the ex British Prime Minister’s tea.
The harvest has always been associated with great festivity: after months of taking care of the vines and days spent gathering the ripened grapes, all the participants used to take part in the collective feast sharing a large lunch.
The children, however, couldn’t wait for the winemaking process so that they could enjoy the sugoli.
It is a dessert prepared with the must (of red grapes), flour and sugar, cooked slowly and then left to cool.
The sugoli can be served cool, like a pudding, or preserved in a jar like jam.
The sopressa is the typical salami of Verona and its tradition dates back to the Della Scala Family, namely from the 13th century. It results from the coarse grinding of the raw meat that is then mixed with spices and a lot of garlic. It is then made into salami that are hung for maturing.
The pig has always been the most widespread animal in the Veronese countryside and its finest parts (such as the loin and chine) are used to prepare roasts or grilled steaks. The fillet and ribs are also sought after and are frequently cooked on the embers. The lard – that is the fat under skin – after the salting phase, is thinly sliced and placed on warm polenta to melt.
The sopressa is the leader of the range of sausages, which includes the cotechino, hams and salami.
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