Sunday, January 19, 2014

Tasting Traditional Food in Friuli Venezia Giulia

If you love to travel off the beaten track and taste traditional food you should visit Friuli Venezia Giulia, an autonomous region located in the northeast of Italy bordering Austria in the north and Slovenia in the east.


Here are some reasons why you should go: 1) the local cuisine is diverse and multiethnic; 2) ancient cultural and food traditions are still kept alive; 3) you can visit the place of production of the famous Prosciutto San Daniele. The capital of Friuli Venezia Giulia is Trieste, which is located along the Adriatic coast and used to be the port of the Austrian-Hungarian empire. It is a cosmopolitan city;inhabited by people of different ethnic backgrounds, including Slovenians, Austrians and Serbians. Alongside the port, you will find Piazza Unita’ d’Italia, which is the largest town square in Europe next to the sea. It hosts various buildings, including the City Hall.


During my trip I have leant about “osmiza”, an Austrian tradition that involves farmers who prepare and serve meals using their fresh products in a farmhouse during a certain part of the year. It dates back to the 18th century, when the Austrian ruler Joseph II emanated an edict that allowed farmers to sell their products directly to consumers for eight consecutive days. In fact, the name “osmiza” derives from the Slovenian word “osmen”, which means eight. Today, however, osmizas are open for a longer period, usually around a month, during which tourists can taste local products such as salami (usually made with pork meat), cheese and wine.


The most iconic product of Friuli Venezia Giulia is Prosciutto San Daniele, known worldwide as high-quality salami. The pigs used to make it come from Italy and are fed only with milk and cereals. The production process involves several steps. First, the legs of the pig are covered with marine salt and are pressed so the salt penetrates well into the meat and the leg gets a “guitar shape”.  The legs are cleaned with warm water and dried in very humid places. Next, they are left in hot and cold storage rooms. The change of room temperature is fundamental for the loss of water. After that, the Consortium checks the quality of the legs and, if the standards are met, it marks the leg with the trademark along with the ID number of the company. The product is aged for a minimum of 14 months. In the mouth, this prosciutto is sweet and has a very soft consistency. It has a characteristic pink red colour and a sapid taste.

Ageing of Prosciutto San Daniele



16 and 24 months aged Prosciutto DOK


Slovenian culture had an important impact on the local pastry. For example, in the city of Gorizia you can find the putizza goriziana, a dessert made during festivities. Its name derives from the Slovenian word “potica”, which means “rolled sweet”. It is filled with chocolate, milk, walnuts, cinnamon, toasted and grated bread and rum. In Trieste you will also find a special version of the strudel, called "Struccolo De Pomi" or "Strudel di Mele Triestino", filled with apples, raisin, cinnamon and pine nuts.Friuli Venezia Giulia is one of the most culturally diverse regions in Italy. The presence of people of different ethnic backgrounds, the unique history and terroir have given rise to a multiethnic cuisine that any tourist interested in traditional food should try.
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