5 things I learned about Transhumance cuisine at Meet Abruzzo 2020

5 things I learned about Transhumance cuisine at Meet Abruzzo 2020

We went to Meet Abruzzo 2020, an event where we were able to experience transhumance cuisine and learn from the chefs.

A few days ago Meet in the Abruzzo 2020 kitchen ended . Now in its sixth edition and sponsored by the Department of Agricultural Policies of the Abruzzo Region, the Italian Chefs Federation, the municipality of Chieti, Confersercenti and Slow food Abruzzo, this year it wanted to marry a theme dear to the chefs and people of Abruzzo. The transhumance. For those unfamiliar with it, transhumance is the set of seasonal migrationsthat go beyond regional limits and move over a wider territory. They lead, from a high land, to transit through different territories until reaching lower altitudes. Migration, thus constituted. allows large or medium-sized animals to overwinter. The herds, led by man, travel along natural and anthropic paths called tratturi. The move lasts months and coincides with the worsening of the winter cold. Transhumant is the shepherd who, once he has passed another winter in places with milder temperatures, returns to his native lands taking the flock with him. Transhumance is a farewell and return activity. And Abruzzo and Puglia, it is departure arrival and vice versa.

There was a mythical time when Abruzzo was permeating. It percolated up to Puglia. A time in which the links between the cities located on the same route but kilometers away were stronger than those between the closest cities on both sides of the Apennines. Nunzio Marcelli reminds us of this, economist-shepherd and true driving force of the Abruzzese and Apennine sheep farming of this millennium. There was a time when Abruzzo was probably the richest region in the Mediterranean thanks to the value that the flocks produced with wool, but also with meat and milk. A time that has left room for prejudice on pastoralism as an activity of economic and above all cultural poverty. The shepherds moved knowledge, the tratturi were free zones, the roads connected peoples, circulated economy and art. There was exchange and growth.

And now, why is it that we talk about migration, the issue of transhumance is on the rise again. Now that it is not only the shepherds who migrate but all the young people. Including chefs. The chefs of Abruzzo have never forgotten what it means to be migrants. Moving to winter, to slowly reach spring on foot. The best time when the climate is mild and the soil is prosperous. Taking the flocks with him, his own family. The transhumant cook is the protagonist of this event. Whether he is back in his homeland, like the guys and not only from Fuori Meet, or whether he works in the magnificent elsewhere that is the gastronomic world outside Abruzzo. In Fuori Meet we learned how many realities make up the Abruzzi, plural, iconic. We encountered the impenetrable beech forest through the story in the form of jus by Cinzia Mancini , from the Bottega Culinaria restaurant in San Vito Chietino; from Atri and from the restaurant Tosto Gianni Deziohe impressed everyone with raw sheep with a sinful fleshiness enclosed in a milk chip: a moving dish.

Franco Franciosi of Osteria Mammaròssa in Avezzano explained to us how Abruzzo is a welcoming land where the fields gather foreign workers and their culture and cuisine. Sheep-based dishes can thus hybridize with spices from afar, as they used to do in the past: a dish that warms the heart and opens the mind. Daniele D’alberto (Ristorante Nole, Pescara), on the other hand, investigates the importance of snails and roots, when shepherds, wool workers and farmers took whatever food they could offer them from the earth. The fire is praised with the Sabatino Lattanzi duck skewer from the Zunica restaurant in Civitella del Tronto, Enzo Di Pasquale’s homage looks at the sea and iodized herbs and ends withAngelo Sabatelli the journey that from the depths of the mountain finally leads to the flavor of the Adriatic. The dessert by Ida Di Biaggio , a woman who makes ice cream an exact science, who honors a mistreated berry like carob in an ice cream that recalls its shape but on the palate has a velvety consistency and temperature ideal: true comfort food more than a dessert is a cuddle. But if you ask me to enclose everything I learned at Meet Abruzzo 2020 in concepts, here are 5 things that I will not be able to forget.


  1. Preserve the earth. Maintain the rule of the earth. Put it to good use, do not let Abruzzo get lost, that it remains firm, but not too focused on itself. Solid but open. Sarah Cicolini talks about it(Chef and patron of the contemporary Osteria Santo Palato in Rome) when he says that too often the pastoral, agricultural cuisine of Abruzzo has been stereotyped. Clear concepts, simple dishes are often the most easily intelligible, clearly identifiable, identifying yes, but also reductive. Eternal praise, therefore, to the kebabs, but without forgetting what it means to raise sheep, graze goats and then, inevitably when necessary, turn them into meat. Paying attention both to the adult goat with its tenacious and tasty meat, and to the lamb which, as a male specimen, is destined to become meat to ensure the survival of the flock and the shepherd. And glory to the shepherds and farmers who some call heroic, but that if interviewed they respond that they simply do what they love and what gives them sustenance and joy. They protect the garments from overgrowing, from wolves, they protect the forest by keeping it alive.
  2. Slowness of the path . Reaching your destination is never an immediate path when it comes to transhumance, as Davide Di Fabio sous chef of the Osteria Francescana knows , who has brought so much Abruzzo to the most important restaurant in Italy. A long path to be faced on foot inevitably leaves parts of oneself behind but gives the opportunity to learn from others, to welcome the other without fear. The slowness of the preparation of the micischia, which is nothing more than sheep meat that slowly dries and smokes to remain edible even if not eaten fresh, instills in Davide the memory of Katsuobushi (the dried tuna of Japanese cuisine) and thus a dish is born new that is no longer neither Abruzzese nor Japanese. It is simply contemporary.
  3. Listen and be influenced . Nothing changes if you don’t make an effort to change it, nothing happens if you’re not ready to listen. They know Antonio Zaccardi (Pashà * Conversano, Bari) and Angelo Sabatelli (Ristorante Angelo Sabatelli * Putignano, Bari). Both are placed in the places where the shepherd’s journey ends. Both are downstream of this path. Antonio Zaccardi is the man of this Abruzzo Meet adopted by Puglia reiterates that nothing like the earth, the sea, the surrounding environment can inspire him. Sabatelli pushes the discourse even further by making rurality a mastery, pushing craftsmanship towards the evocative art that valuable cuisine often embodies. So dishes are born that have earthly premises and graceful results.
  4. The key to the journey lies in evolution. Gianluca Gorini (Da Gorini * – San Piero in Bagno, FC) and his young assistant Gianluca Durillo take the stage to talk about how their territories, Apennine and Adriatic at the same time, are receptive and ready to leave the junk of certain customs that they want the unknown, the stranger as if necessarily treacherous and instead grasp the essence of the expressive power that inclusion manages to bring out. And what’s more evolved than Paolo Brunelli’s dish, which mixes ice cream with pork popcorn, which sublimates sweet in its perfect opposite which is salty?
  5. One is all the richer when one is willing to meet. Philippe Léveillé and Arianna Gatti of Miramonti L’Altro ** in Concesio (BS), explain to us with a few simple concepts how France and Abruzzo can mix when the goal is common, when a highly experienced Chef lets himself be permeated by the freshness of his young collaborators, when a younger cook is not afraid to show his ideas but above all he is not afraid that they will be shaped by those who guide and govern a kitchen with a touch and kindness. Summa of the discourse that moves from the shepherds to the side up to the Taka Kondo haute cuisine, Sous by Massimo Bottura, invites us to imagine what a world without admixture would be like, he is Japanese in that of Modena who makes hybridisation the only possible way to read our history.

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