I Love Italian Regional Cuisine

Delicious risotto made with wild porcini mushrooms.

Basilicata is the instep of the Italian boot. This hilly and mountainous region is located in the southwest corner of Italy. Historically the region has been quite poor, which may explain at least partially its cuisine that knows how to make the best of local foods.

You might want to start with Acqua e Sale al Pomodoro con Cipolla Rossa (Soft Bruschetta with Tomato and Purple Onion) made from day-old bread, sliced tomatoes, sliced purple onions, basil, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Some people add cheese. One suggested white wine pairing is Vernaccia di San Gimignano DOCG from Tuscany. However, I don’t think that I’d use such a fine wine for this relatively plebian, even if tasty starter. Another suggestion is Soave DOC from Veneto but make sure to get a good one.

Another local appetizer is Ciaudedda (Vegetable Stew) often made with braised artichokes, accompanied by or stuffed with, fava beans, onions, potatoes, and salt pork. Accompany this dish with an Italian Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc.

Given the region’s coastlines on the Gulf of Taranto and the Tyrrhenian Sea, it should come as no surprise that Basilicata is proud of its Zuppa di Pesce (Fish Soup) based on local fish and seafood. The local version calls for plenty of powdered chili peppers. Recommended wine pairings include Italian Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, or Pinot Grigio.

You might like Baccala alla lucana (Dried Codfish Lucana Style) which includes olive oil and sweet peppers preserved in vinegar. Suggested wine pairings are Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, Italian of course.

If you’re in the mood for some spicy food, why not try Bucatini di Fuoco (Fiery-red Bucatini Pasta). When they say fiery-red they are not only referring to the color. This dish includes lots of dried red chili peppers as well as garlic, and olive oil. Bucatini are large, hollow spaghetti and if you haven’t tried them you should. Soave DOC is recommended with this pasta. Another good choice is a red Dolcetto-based wine from Piedmont that may or may not carry the DOC designation.

Food, wine, Italy. Doesn’t your mouth water? This series examines the food specialties of the twenty regions of Italy. Each article presents several traditional dishes and either red or white wines that bring out their best. These wines are available in North America and are often fairly inexpensive. We also suggest fine wine pairings when you want to celebrate without totally blowing your budget. Enjoy.