“Much of Basilicata is an otherworldly landscape of mountain ranges, trackless forests and villages that seem to sprout organically from the granite. Not easily penetrated, it is strategically located, and has been dominated by the Lucanians, Greeks, Romans, Germans, Lombards, Byzantines, Saracens, Normans and others. Being the plaything of such powers has not been conducive to a quiet or happy fate. In the north the landscape is a fertile zone of gentle hills and deep valleys; the Tyrrhenian coast is a fissured wonderland of rocky coves and precariously sited villages. But it is inland Matera, where primitive sassi (caves) lurk under grand cathedrals, that is Basilicata’s most precious gem. The third-oldest continuously inhabited city in the world, it’s intriguing, breathtaking and tragic in equal measures.” LonelyPlanet.com
“The delicious regional cuisine has been influenced by Basilicata’s colourful history and cultural roots, with ingredients originating from Northern European, Spanish, French and Arabic traditions. The region was historically poor and isolated, and this is reflected in the delicious, rustic ingredients used in their cooking. Honest dishes are made from a few simple, high-quality ingredients.” DiscoverBascilicata.com
The New York Times listed Italy’s Basilicata as the #3 place to travel to in 2018. This dinner allowed people to enjoy the Tastes of Basilicata without having to buy a plane ticket!
Taverna Italian Kitchen worked with Saskatoon’s local Basilicatans to create an authentic menu exploring the unique dishes of this region. Luciana, in particular, had a great influence on the menu and worked closely with the kitchen. An Italian grandmother from a small town in this region, she personally attended the event and rode herd on the kitchen to make sure everything came out as she would serve it to her own family.
60 people came to this event. One couple celebrated their 23rd wedding anniversary with us! Truly, the entire room had the feel of celebrating life – the air was filled with laughter and hearty conversation.
A traditional Italian Chacruterie board, called “Salumi” in Italy
Zucchine Fritte, Peperoni Cruschi
Zucchini, fresh tomato with herbs and olive oil, sundried peppers
We are most excited to share the flavours of Peperoni Cruschi in the Fried Zucchini dish. In the south of Basilicata, an area known as Lucania, cruschi peppers are much loved. They are mild and have a nutty, aromatic quality. It is believed that they originally arrived in Southern Italy’s distant past with Spanish settlers. They are so much a part of this regions flavors that they have IGS status under the EU (Protected Geographical Status), and The Guardian refers to them as a “hyper-local” food. They continue to be harvested by hand and dried in the sun.
Pasta mollicata: Orecchiette con Salsa Rossa
A pasta popular in southern Italy, orecchia, meaning ‘ear’ which refers to their shape. Served in a red sauce.
Breadcrumb pasta is a traditional treat from this region but is also enjoyed across Southern Italy. Basilicata is one of the most economically challenged areas of Italy which is how this dish developed. When the cupboard is bare save for some stale bread and herbs, a meal must still be made. For some families, the use of breadcrumbs is not just about being economical, but religious as well. Since bread is shared with Christ at the Last Supper, wasting it is deeply frowned upon. The breadcrumb mixture included anchovies and walnuts.
Arrosto di Agnello con Patate Fritte, Peperoni Ripieni e Insalata Verde
Roast lamb with fried potatoes, Stuffed Peppers and Lettuce drizzled in olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Lamb and mutton are favorite meats in this region, and peppers play a starring role in Basilicatan cuisine. The peppers served at our meal were stuffed with bread crumbs, ground lamb, and oregano.
Crostoli della Nona
A special regional dessert drizzled in honey.
The dough is very much like a flaky pie crust. While not at all sweet on its own, it is drizzled in a lovely wildflower honey, which pools into the little pie-crust boats. A very rustic and unique end to the meal that pleasantly surprised everyone.