Friuli Venezia Giulia - Food and Wines - Food
Cooking from Friuli and Trieste are sisters, in fact, both have Venetian blood in their veins. First, however, we need a portrait of people from Friuli. They are hard-working people who build houses and grow wine, but they have often been obliged to emigrate because they live in a borderland, where you can't become too attached to a house or your children. Once it was war that destroyed everything, now it is natural disasters that afflict the area. Some of the greatest wines of Italy come from here: vino del Collio, Picolit, Verduzzo di Rocca Bernarda, Tocai, Merlot, Sauvignon, Pinot, and many others.
Polenta is the food most often found on a table in Friuli, always accompanied by tasty sauces, game, chicken, rabbit or salted cheeses such as "frico", a seasoned cheese which is cut in pieces and fried in butter. Soups from Friuli are usually based on beans, greens, or pig's ribs, with plenty of lard: strong ingredients almost forgotten but well tolerated by the strong stomachs of this region. These dishes are considered "poor," based more on the fantasy of the cook than the richness of the ingredients.
Cooking in Friuli reflects the earth and its products. The mountain area limits what you can grow, and it depends on weather and seasons. The forest, however, is generous: herbs and mushrooms, fruit and game. The first place for typical foods from the area goes to "prosciutto di San Daniele" - cured raw ham from San Daniele. It is produced by a unique climate: the winds of the Alps and the breezes of the Adriatic. The local producers are most proud of their famous local product: record books of the oldest companies show that during the last century they supplied the British royal family and the imperial house of Vienna.
Other pork products are also made at home from the pigs in the back yard fed on family scraps. Sweets are substantial, stuffed with fruit, nuts, almonds, spices, honey, raisins and dried fruit. During the cold winter months families gather around a roaring fire, eating boiled or roasted chestnuts along with strong wine. Guests are treated royally, the best bottle of wine opened in their honor, and the tradition of hospitality of the grandfathers is alive today.
Cooking from Trieste and Grado reflects the Venetian style of cooking seafood, with strong Austrian and Slavic influences. "Gulash" is a favorite dish, a well-known stew with a strong flavour made slightly sweet by the abundant use of onions. The tradition of "rebechin", that is filling the stomachs of the dockworkers who after starting their work at dawn stop at the nearest bar for a hearty snack. This usually consists of something salty with a base of beans and onion, tuna, sardines, and other goodies.
Other specialties are "brodetto", a fish soup, made with pieces of various fish, and "mesta", a kind of polenta cooked in water and milk and eaten with fish.
Trieste has always been considered a city of intellectuals. Visitors such as Stendhal, James Joyce, and Ezra Pound have visited for short and longer periods. To satisfy the literary inclinations of its inhabitants Trieste has a tradition of so-called literary caffe`s, the last of which is the San Marco in Via Battisti. Drinks are served only at the marble tables, not standing at the bar. Newspapers are available for readers, everybody speaks in hushed voices and walks softly so as not to disturb them, the ladies playing cards, and young people doing their homework.