Ferragosto tra grigliate e secchiate

Mid-August between barbecues and buckets

📝 Francesca Gorza

Ah! Mid-August !

The most loved and hated day - which then becomes the week - of the summer.
Loved because it is the pinnacle of the holiday, the culmination of the summer: it is a bit like the Easter of summer. We organize dinners, barbecues, total white evenings, fireworks...

grilled meat

Hated because:
<<Look at how many people have arrived! Everyone is crowded together on the beach!>>
<<What terrible traffic! Black sticker on the roads>>
<<Summer is over now... soon we'll have to go home>>
<<Damn! The shops in the city are ALL CLOSED>>

But what and how do we celebrate Ferragosto?
Surely most of you know that it is a religious holiday : the assumption into Heaven of the Virgin Mary is celebrated. And so far, my catechist should be proud of me.
Let's talk about the less spiritual part of Ferragosto and find out which foods are traditionally consumed on this day.
Personally, I remember very vividly the obsessive organization of barbecues and battles with buckets and water balloons .

crowded beach on mid-August

Well: know that the Italian regions offer an embarrassing variety of dishes which, traditionally, are prepared specifically for August 15th.
In Piedmont there are Margheritine di Stresa : crumbly biscuits (the secret lies in the hard-boiled egg yolk that dissolves in the dough) covered in icing sugar. The pastry chef Pietro Antonio Balongaro created them in 1857, to offer them as a gift to the future Queen Margherita on the occasion of her first communion. It seems that the little girl liked them so much that she wanted to offer them, when she grew up, during all the August 15th receptions at the House of Savoy.
In Liguria, Capponada is consumed: a salad made with sailor's biscuits soaked in water and vinegar, chopped tomatoes, anchovies, tuna fillets, capers, olives and garlic. Fresh, simple and tasty.
In Lombardy we find cold minestrone : made with seasonal vegetables and enriched with rice.
Let's jump to Umbria with some delicious gnocchi with goose sauce . They were prepared to celebrate, among other things, the end of the harvest.
In Tuscany the saying reigns supreme: "For mid-August, roast pigeons and ducks" . The skewers are heated and pigeons and ducks stuffed with finocchiona and sausage are prepared. In this region we also find the mid-August biscuit : a donut formed into two circles, made with flour, sugar, oil and eggs and flavored with anise and Aleatico red wine.
In Lazio we can enjoy succulent chicken stewed with peppers which, especially in August, are at their best.

We arrive in Campania for a complete menu: "zitoni" (long cylinders of pasta to be broken by hand) seasoned with fresh and dried tomatoes and capers. If you prefer to organize a picnic, prepare a nice macaroni pizza : a single dish prepared with any shape of pasta mixed with beaten eggs, diced salami, provola or pecorino. For dessert, Ferragosto taralli (revisited in a sweet version with aniseed liqueur and a lemon-flavoured glaze), or chocolate aubergines (Editor's note: exactly, we make a mousse exactly like this).
In Puglia , don't miss the stuffed cockerel and, in Sicily (between a cannoli and a granita) taste the melon gelo which - despite the name - is made with watermelon.

As always, the offer is varied and generous, but do you know what the secret ingredient is for the success of a menu?
The joy of cooking it and sharing it with the people you love. Good company is a fundamental ingredient because, like salt, it gives a twist to our experiences.

And to you? What do you like to eat... or rather: who do you like to eat with on August 15th?

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