Culinary specialities from Molise
Culinary specialities from Molise include a wide variety of dishes such as lamb and pork-based meat preparations, handmade pasta, and locally grown vegetables.
The neighbouring region of Abruzzo strongly influences the cuisine of the small region of Molise. Spicy pepperoncini, lamb and regional products such as chickpeas are the main ingredients on the menu. During everyday life, people usually eat rather modest meals, but during a feast, they dine for hours. In some communities, a traditional wedding feast can include twenty courses!
Traditional inland sheep and goat farming
Today, many shepherds keep their animals in the traditional and elaborate form of transhumance: in the warm season, the flocks graze on herb-covered mountain meadows, and when autumn comes, they are driven across the “tratturi” to the lowlands for the winter.
This species-appropriate husbandry of the animals naturally leads to more aromatic milk and higher quality meat than raising them in stables. However, the shepherds are sometimes separated from their families for months, which is why the total number decreases constantly. A typical dish from the regional capital of Campobasso is the delicious “Ajelle cu le patane”, small-cut lamb baked in the oven with potatoes.
Goats are bred in central and southern Italy mainly for their milk, which is especially used to make aromatic cheese. Roast goat is a rare treat.
Cheese, olive oil and desserts from Molise
Besides goat’s cheese, cow milk cheese and sheep milk cheese are also very popular in Molise, especially the “Caciocavallo.” It is made from raw milk and is preferably stored in stone vaulted cellars. Among the stringy cheeses, its austere taste is unique. In the area of Venafro and the mountains of San Giuliano del Sannio in the province of Isernia, buffaloes are bred to produce the famous mozzarella cheese.
Venafrano is also the origin of the olive oil known as “Liciniano”, which already enjoyed great fame in ancient times. It is named in honour of the Roman patrician Marco Licinio. The well-known variety “Gentile di Larino” comes from Larino in the province of Campobasso. It is the most widespread olive variety and comprises about one-third of the total olive trees in Molise. The entire area along the Adriatic coast in the “Basso Molise” produces the extra virgin olive oil Molise DOP.
The region’s desserts are popularly made with honey, cooked must, chickpea dough and jam. Especially popular is the “cauciuri,” which is a dessert filled with chickpea dough. The “peccellate” and “bocconotti” filled with cooked must or jam or the baked ravioli “cippillati” filled with sour cherries are also popular as a traditional dessert.