The cuisine of a land of crossing paths


The molise cuisine, and in particular that of Provincia di Isernia is simple in its ingredients. Food had the flavor and color of the earth it comes from.

It had the taste of local flours of the harvested highlands, pressed by watermills.

Big loaves of bread baked in wood-burning ovens, mixed with potatoes to obtain consistency, fragrance and increase the amount of the product.

The food had the taste of “polenta” made of corn flours which mixed with beans or potatoes and add flavor to the cabbage, peppers, onions and dried zucchine.

But it had also the taste of handmade “sagne”, “taccozze”, “tacconelle”, “cazzariegli”, combined with beans, chickpeas, lentils or “cicerchie”, and again of “cavati” and “cavatelli”, with a heart of potato or just made of water and flour and of water used to boil pasta mixed with wine and to drink as a “starter” for peasants.

Food also had the taste of salty “baccalà” that comes to the mountain, bartered, flavoring sauces and “polenta” and replacing the most valuable meat.

Cheese made by women in the houses and by men in the mounths in which they were gone with the flocks. The meat of the animals of the barnyard and of the barn, slaughtered and often dried and preserved to be ready to eat when needed.

Fresh eggs of the henhouse, also used in the commodity exchange. Cabbages, peppers, potatoes, zucchine, tomatoes, and garlic, onions and leeks of the garden. Everything could be mixed in a great variety of recipes that allowed you to create and rework according to the necessity in a simple way.

The manual dexterity was the first attitude of a woman, who did not not accept man in the kitchen but sitting at the table, only if food was ready. Sometimes the woman went to the fields or to the vineyards with the basket on her head to bring to her husband breakfast, lunch or the so called “mbrenna”.

The cuisine of the Provincia di Isernia over time has used products of small companies that perfectly made them, putting in them scents of the countryside and the typical products of forests and mountains, while still getting influences from neighboring geographic areas in particular thanks to the dense network of sheep tracks which cross the whole region of Molise.

High quality oil, often produced by ancient olive groves, wine grape varieties (the Tintilia), recently rediscovered and produced in extensive cultivation. Fresh pasta made and marketed by modern pasta industries according to the shapes of tradition. As far as meat is concerned, today only best cuts cattle, sheep and pigs are used, whilst reserving for traditional dishes the remaining parts of the animals or using them only for specific festivals. The superior goodness and quality of dairy products (“caciocavallo”, “ricotta”, “scamorza”, “stracciata”, “mozzarella”, “pecorino”), combined with meat, characterizes the typical local cuisine.

With the evolution of costumes and the unstoppable progress, social and family structures are losing their prerogatives. In a similar manner, the kitchen, strictly linked to the territory and to the people, has partly lost its connotation, changing methods of preparation and basic ingredients.

Forgotten but not lost, however: there are in fact still competitiveness and commitment in the kitchen and it is true that Molise makes products that are the basis of the Mediterranean diet.