Back in my real home town… sort of. Land of gramicia spaghetti and burly bushy-eyebrowed osteria owners, dirty streets and chaotic inhabitants, imaginary romance and the fleeting illusion of Hollywood perfection, salty ricotta and traffic jams.

Day one was spent in Foligno, UMBRIA at the Festival dei Primi Piatti – the best translation of which I suppose is The Festival of First Courses, which in Italy essentially means pasta, polenta or rice depending on which region you’re in.

This is a land heaving with exceptional food products, but my god, not one single dish we ate was worth the pennies we spent on it.

In fact we came to the fundamental root of Italy’s culinary problem on the way back somewhere outside Spoleto. They’ve got the pride and joy of primary materials, but when they try and put them together outside of the intimate setting of the household kitchen results are usually either lame, disappointing or downright disasterous unless you’re prepared to spend a massive wad of cash.

The day was alleviated however by umpteen free glasses of Sagrantino of varying qualities and some excellent, malty Raw Beer from Livorno…

We ploughed our way through nigh on 8-9 plates of different “primi” at the festival before heading home towards Spoleto where we stopped to refresh ourselves with yet more food, some lentil and chickpea broth, sausages and potatoes, umpteen types of grilled vegetables and some hefty 60% Grappa to go with our coffee…

Despite the fact that we ate and drank far too much and most of it wasn’t very good, I did buy a rather large Schiacciata di Cervo, or “squished bambi” salami, made in Umbria, to put it nicely… Something I cannot wait to get home to the new house and munch with great pleasure…


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