The Italian holiday called August 15 is Assumption Day, but most of the time it’s called Ferragosto by Italians chomping at the bit for a break from industrial work. August 15 is the traditional start of the summer holidays—then it’s all sea and sun and…food.
You search for it. You ask around for the best cheese-maker. You look at street lights and telephone poles for colorful Sagra posters tacked on at eye level.
You hit the food festivals because good ones feature the local specialties. Italy’s geography ensures that there are many tiny and unique spaces where the most humble vegetable can shine in all its glory.
In Italy you don’t come home from a beach vacation with just a tan, there’s that cave-aged cheese from the grisly old man who lived by the train station. There’s memory of the olives or the onions at the Sagra.
And each year every village has its saint’s day. That means religious processions and local feasting, wobbly tables set out under the big oak and food that comes from a healthy competition between neighboring cooks.
“Whose torta delle erbe is this?”
“That one is from la Francesca”, that is THE Francesca, from which one might expect the best.
And these are the kinds of things Chef Guido and I discussed in a Sunday zoom meeting attended by people longing for the food of anywhere along the Italian peninsula.
Talking the Chef Guido
The audio portion of the Zoom video is accessible below: