Terre del Conero





In this section you will find many interesting facts and insights about our area, its food and traditions. You will also come across many tips about healthy eating, and there are some simple recipes that you can use to enjoy our products.

Herbs

Il Conero vanta notoriamente un manto botanico tra i più ricchi dell’Italia centrale (pini, pioppi, querce, lecci, allori, castagni, aceri, ginepri, rose canine, more, cespugli di ginestre ecc.), distribuiti equamente sul territorio più interno e sulle pareti esposte al mare (la bocca di lupo e la valeriana rossa), o nel pietrisco dei macereti dove si insedia la ginestra, mentre le zone lacustri sono abitate da varie specie di giunchi e canne, o ancora sui costoni sovrastanti le Due Sorelle con l’euforbia arborescente. Inevitabilmente questo repertorio di flora ha nel tempo garantito la sussistenza di generazioni che hanno saputo integrare sapientemente, nei pasti quotidiani, le colture dell’orto e dei campi con la vegetazione spontanea degli spazi incolti.

The Conero is one of the richest botanical areas of central Italy (pines, poplars, oaks, laurels, chestnuts, maples, junipers, wild roses, blackberries, gorse bushes etc.), equally distributed within the territory, in inland areas and areas that are exposed to the sea (‘la bocca di lupo and la valeriana rossa) or in the rubble of old walls where one can find the gorse bush. While lake areas are inhabited by various species of rushes and reeds, or on the ridges above ‘Le Due Sorelle’,with the arborescent euphorbia. Inevitably this floral repertoire has over time ensured the survival of generations who were able to skillfully integrate into their daily meals both the vegetable crops and fields with the natural vegetation of the uncultivated areas.

In fact, what is traditionally called "cuisine" in Ancona means cooking an assortment of wild herbs in a pan with garlic, olive oil or lard and sometimes with potato chunks. This mesticanza, which the peasant from the Conero (like the rest of the hill area) would sell in the markets of the Ancona, was composed of herbs identified according to each family tradition. This situation perpetuated over time, and various names were given to these herbs that could change from place to place, even if the distances were minimal. These names were always imaginative and difficult to relate to the official scientific name.

Among the plant species collected and used in peasant meals (and also, as documented through the centuries also used for recipes of the nobility), chicory in all its variations and qualities was widely used, to the point that still now "chicory" is found in the elaborate and experimental dishes of some Conero restaurateurs, who want to recover and re-propose ancient traditions, as well as red lettuce (often known as "gallinella- hen"). This is particularly popular and sought after for its flavor and its gentle delicate texture that can ennoble a common salad. It is used by some chefs as a "bed" of herbs for the plating of innovative recipes that, for example, are able to combine the humble "greens from the fields" with the quality of the most appreciated fish.


Affonda invece nel tempo l’uso in cucina di un’erba spontanea intensamente e inconfondibilmente aromatica come il finocchio selvatico, che l’erborista cinquecentesco Mattioli definiva «non meno al gusto aggradevole nei condimenti dei cibi che sia valoroso nelle medicine». Dall’impiego antico nella porchetta (che fin dal Seicento è documentata come ricorrente e caratteristica nelle Marche e ad Ancona) questo aroma è passato poi a identificare ogni cottura con l’uso di questo aroma specifico: inevitabilmente nelle zone di confine tra campagna e spiaggia il transito dalla cucina dei contadini del monte a quella dei pescatori del mare è stato immediato, e pertanto tra le tipicità del Conero il finocchio selvatico domina nell’alto dei borghi rurali, ad esempio nel coniglio in porchetta, così come nel basso di moli e spiagge e degli stabilimenti balneari, con le infinite specialità di «bumbarelli», crocette (celebrate anche da una poesia dell’autore anconetano Eugenio Gioacchini detto «Ceriago», «Come se fa le crucete in porcheta»), raguse e altri tra pesci e crostacei insaporiti in maniera assolutamente caratteristica dal finocchio cosiddetto «forte» o «bastardo», impiegato non solo nelle foglie ma anche nei giovani getti (specie per le insalate).

The use in the kitchen of a spontaneous, intensely aromatic and unmistakable herb like wild fennel comes from ancient times. In fact in the sixteenth-century the herbalist Mattioli defined it as being ‘no less agreeable to the taste in food dressings than it is valiant in medical uses". From its use in ancient ‘porchetta’ (which is documented as early as the seventeenth century and is recurrent feature among the foods of the Marche and Ancona). Each area can be identified by its use of this specific flavour. Inevitably in the border areas between the countryside and the beach, this herb was used both in the cuisine of the peasants of the mountains and in the fisherman’s cuisine of the sea. Among the specialties of the Conero, fennel dominates, for example, in dishes like ‘rabbit in porchetta’ in the high rural villages, or in endless specialities like ‘bumbarelli’, ‘crocette-crosses’. Fish and shellfish were flavored with fennel in a characteristic manner, (called ‘strong’ or ‘bastard’), and not only the leaves were used, but also the young shoots.

In describing the Conero the other highly distinctive quality of the fennel of this area must never be forgotten. The so-called "marine fennel" known here as ‘paccasassi’("rock samphire"), a herb used to flavor fish (often combined with the reputed "wild mosciolo" of Portonovo). Several restaurateurs have developed over time a preserve with this herb, putting the leaves in vinegar, to avoid running out during the winter.

Another shrub that is very common in the flora of Conero is the juniper. Its berries, known as 'the big cuddle', were used to flavor roasts, especially meat, but they were also considered ideal for smoking processes. Similarly, lavender, another plant with its bold shades that cover entire fields along the roads of the Conero, is frequently used as a perfume for linen. (canvas bags filled with its dried spikelets were souvenirs in important local hotels), but there are also interesting attempts to experiment with this herb in the kitchen. Together with rose hip it has been used as an ingredient in jams and marmalades.

Finally, many scents of so-called Mediterranean vegetation, such as rosemary and bay leaf, over time have come to complement the gardens and balconies of the area, along with parsley, marjoram, basil, oregano, thyme, which are all very common in the traditional recipes of this territory.



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Terre del Conero Agricoltori per Natura, soc. coop. agr. Via Peschiera 30, 60020 Sirolo (AN) P.IVA 02474980428
European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development