(…cont’d from part I)
The band played and grandparents swayed to the music, grandchildren in their arms while all munched on sausage panini. After a walk through the curvy medieval backstreets of Trevi, many head to the medieval taverne as night crept in. The three terzieri (or neighborhoods) of Trevi compete seriously during October: in a gastronmical contest. Which terziere offers the tastiest food? Matigge has been my favorite for years and pre-bookings are necessary to feast here. The Matigge taverna was overflowing with jubilant groups of friends and families, dining on varieties of celery dishes and other autumn specialties in this stone-vaulted medieval cellar, once an olive oil mill. We squeezed together onto the benches lining our table and set to the “banquet”, accompanied by local vino rosso.
Favorite dishes? The celery bruschetta, lamb with black truffles, pork shin with sweet-and-sour vegetables, the polenta with wild boar – and of course, the terziere Matigge’s specialty: il parmigiano di sedano nero. As a friend once said after the Trevi festival, “Only the Italians can make celery a such an incredible celebration of both taste and friendship. How very special to share this experience!”
A RECIPE WITH CELERY:
Umbrian Lentil Soup
Ingredients (for about 6 persons):
1 lb lentils
1 carrot, finely-chopped
1 medium-sized stalk of celery, finely-chopped
1 small white or yellow onion, finely-chopped
1 handful parsley, finely-chopped
Extra-virgin olive oil – to taste, as needed
Optional additions: hot red pepper, sprig of fresh rosemary, or near the end of cooking a generous bunch of Swiss chard chopped or torn into small pieces.
Soak the lentils overnight in cold water. (Try to buy small, tender lentils!)
Rural version: my farm neighbors would start with a soffritto (or “gentle fry”), that is, by covering the bottom of the saucepan with olive oil. Procedure: heat olive oil but do not burn and put all vegetables in oil, stirring with wooden spoon (only! never use stainless steel with legumes, I have been told). Stir until vegetables are golden. Add lentils and about 1 quart water. Add generous handful of finely-chopped parsley near the end of cooking. Simmer until lentils are tender. Drizzle with olive oil when serving, if desired.