The Piedmont region of Italy is unique in just about every way from the rest of the country. The mountainous terrain borders Switzerland and France which creates a very diverse population as well as a particular and delicious traditional cuisine.
The unusual soil composition of the Piedmont region is the result of disturbances such as floods, earthquakes and even a once-upon-a-time ancient sea. The soil provides a rich growing environment just perfect for the nebbiolo grape, the red grape variety predominantly associated with the region’s famed Barolo and Barberesco wines.
Winter white truffles, prized among the most discerning foodies across the globe for their distinct aroma, intense flavor and earthy richness, are abundant in the Piedmont region of Italy.
Local and Fresh Courtesy of The Slow Food Movement
The cuisine of Piedmont is decidedly local. The reason behind this trend lies, for the most part, in the Slow Food Movement. Piedmont is the birthplace of the movement which preserves the regional Italian traditional recipes and cooking methods. The result? An abundance of one-of-a-kind dishes and flavors that make Piedmont a favorite destination among gourmet and gourmand alike.
Agnolotti del Plin
One of the most beloved regional dishes is Agnolotti del Plin. Of course, it wouldn’t be Italian without a wonderful legend to accompany this dish:
As the story goes, a Piedmontese contingent defeated an invading band of marauders and a celebration at the castle was in order. Because the invaders very narrowly overthrew the town and raided their larders there wasn’t much with which to create a meal of that magnitude.
The castle’s cook, Angeloto, was a very industrious fellow and he quickly gathered up what he could find which included a variety of meats. Angeloto roasted the meat, minced it finely and used it to fill little pasta pockets. He pinched the pasta closed (Plin means pinched in Italian), cooked it and served it up to the victorious dignitaries and their friends. The dish was a hit and Agnolotti del Plin was born.
Still a Celebrated Dish
The traditional dish is served in trattoria throughout the area and always using local ingredients, often an array of roasted meats such as rabbit, pork and veal. The addition of finely minced (or processed in a food processor which wasn’t available to Angeloto at the time) savoy cabbage, carrots, shallots, celery and onions is also part of the traditional recipe. The meat and vegetables are combined with parmigiano reggiano and some nutmeg.
Once cooked, the pasta is served simply. Either topped with butter or broth made from the bones of the roasted meats. There is so much flavor in these little pinched pockets of pasta perfection they don’t need much else.
Good Food is Good Food
It’s important to note that, in Italy, as nowhere else, the foods eaten and enjoyed by dignitaries and VIPs are often the same foods enjoyed by peasants who utilize each and every morsel as a matter of frugality. Social ranking aside, in Piedmont, as in the rest of Italy, good food is absolutely good food.