Adventures in Umbria… Porchetta Day

After visiting Giacomo, the cheesemaker, we continued on to the local butcher, as today – hooray – is Thursday – Porchetta day in Amelia.

Porchetta is a roast pig that is marinated and stuffed with herbs and cooked whole, and it is deliciously tender, with tasty crispy skin. The process begins when the pig is butchered on Monday, followed by marinating and stuffing the animal and the cooking begins on Wednesday. Again, you have to get to the butcher’s in the morning on Thursday, as it’s usually all sold out by noon. Incredible considering the size of the pig and the relatively tiny population of the village of Amelia!

Tradition dictates that it’s only available for sale on Thursdays. When I asked the butcher why, he said, well, that’s tradition. And besides, if it was available every day, it might not be such a treat, it might not seem as special – and what if people got tired of it?! I highly doubt that’s possible…

We bought some to bring home, to add to our breakfast of ricotta, chestnut honey, fresh mozzarella. One last stop, to the bakery for warm bread to serve with Rita’s apricot/lemon and peach preserves.

The bread in Umbria is always unsalted. The story goes that since Medieval times, when the Vatican decided to impose a tax on salt, Umbrians protested by removing salt from their bread recipes and haven’t looked back since! Bread is such a core ingredient in the Umbrian kitchen – it’s on the table at every meal, and is the basis for bruschetta, the typical appetizer here, served many different ways: with porcini, olives, chicken livers, white beans, and many more – not just the typical tomato-basil version that we see in North America.

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