Postcards from Italy
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Wild Greens in Italy

Though Italy has been going through some very public economic woes over the past few years, it remains one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Which is why it's sometimes easy to forget that despite the majestic ruins and noble palazzi, most of this peninsula has poor, rural roots which remain at the core of the culture and cuisine.

foraging-italy-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

foraging-italy-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

An example? Despite sweeping, well-stocked supermarkets and access to varied, seasonal produce, Italians remain avid foragers...a habit harking back to a time when peasant families lived barely above subsistence level and much of the day's meals would come from what was found in the woods and pastures: mushrooms and truffles, wild berries and asparagus, game, and most of all, field greens.

foraging-italy-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

foraging-italy-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Though the art of picking wild greens was almost lost over the past few decades of post-war prosperity, there has been a recent boom in popularity. Courses teaching young foragers where to find and how to recognize these flavor (and vitamin) packed greens have sprung up like, well, weeds, and more and more Italians are rediscovering their passion for foraging.

foraging-italy-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

foraging-italy-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

We were guests recently on a foraging excursion, and later feasted on our finds. We bagged raponzoli, pimpinella, fennel, and caccialepre, all of which can be eaten raw in salad. Italians scouring the countryside also often pick wild chicory, crispigno, and dandelion greens, which are commonly boiled, sautéed in olive oil, garlic and peperoncino, and make a great complement to grilled meats.

foraging-italy-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

foraging-italy-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Though wild greens are most prevalent in the spring, they can be found all year round, which is another reason they were often a staple at farm tables. We were on a winter walk, and managed to find enough for a festive meal with our foraging friends.

foraging-italy-cr-brian-dore(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Related Posts:
In Season: 5 Italian Spring Foods To Welcome the Season
Hunting Truffles in Italy
In Season: Five Italian Fall Foods



Contributor: Rebecca Winke

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