It was a bright, spring day. While she was in Fivizzano to pick up the latest bags and hardware that conformed to the latest recycling scheme the commune had thought up, Martha also managed to pick up some Lunigiana food specialties which we ate outside, on the terrace. This was the platter of food we shared:
The top row consists of food bought locally, but not food that is particularly though of as “Lunigenese” in origin. From left to right there is an onion focaccia, a whole wheat focaccia and a bit of truffled pecorino cheese.
It’s the bottom row that’s interesting and quintessentially local. You’ve got your Torta d’Erbe, a delicious vegetable “pie” with a very thin and flaky crust, farinata, a chick pea flour and olive oil pancake that is rolled up here and almost unrecognizable as a pancake, and slices of a fabulous salami bought in Pontremoli at the Salumeria Angella di Bertocchi on via Garabaldi 11 in the heart of town.
I’ve always thought of the place as a sort of tourist place, so haven’t been in it—at least for a long while. When I saw the slender sausage, I asked “what is that?” to which the reply was simply, “salami.”
But when I saw him cutting it carefully with a knife, I knew I had stumbled upon something special. You use a big commercial cutter to make short work of most salumi, but some things you need to be thicker, or you need to cut without making any frictional heat that would destroy a delicate texture.
As it turned out, the salami was a hard salami, but the bits of fat were soft and silky on the tongue. It made me think I was eating a Salame lardellato. Naturalmente Lunigiana makes one. It was delicious, and unlike anything you might come across in the states unless you knew a master meat preserving specialist.
Can you have a good picnic in the wilds of northern Tuscany? Are you kidding me?