“Un Fritto Misto” of Goodness in Ascoli Piceno

June 26, 2015 / Food & Wine
Ascoli Piceno, Le Marche
Ascoli side street

Fried foods might not be prevalent in the Mediterranean diet, but they’re definitely present… and you’ll find il fritto (or derivatives) in a few Italian idiomatic expressions, too:

siamo fritti (lit. “we’re fried,” meaning “we’re in trouble”)

mandare a farsi friggere (best translated as “to send someone off to fry themselves” i.e., to tell someone off.)

un fritto misto (“a fried foods” mix, refers to a mix of unrelated people, objects or words)

…and fritto takes the stage at the late April/early May Fritto Misto festival in Ascoli Piceno in the Marches region.

During the festival, white tents fanning out before the medieval travertine buildings in Piazza Arringo and encircling the whimsical fountains offer an array of fried foods from all over Italy – and not only – as well as tastes of the region’s wines and olive oils. Visitors line up to order tempura, samosas (vegan ones, too!), fajitas, fish and chips and even gluten-free fried chicken, all served in paper cones.

Ascoli medieval buildings back  the booths
Samosa
Empanadas, fajitas

But the Italian specialties seem to take the lead: fried cheeses, panzerotti (from Puglia) stuffed with mozzarella and tomatoes, fried codfish with fried artichokes, mixed fish fry, fried zucchini flowers – and even fried pizza! And how not to mention the Sicilian goodness: arancini (fried rice balls), cannoli (the cones are fried) and ricotta-filled zippole?

Fried rabbit
Panzerotti from Puglia stuffed with mozzarella and tomatoes
Breaded fried trout
Fried shrimg, fried cheese,chicken tidbits
Fried potatoes light as air
Even fried pizza!
Zippole filled with ricotta

Near the food tents, a sommelier conducts wine-tastings while in a nearby booth, beers of micro-breweries are the choice for fried food-pairings for some visitors. In one tent, an organic olive oil producer offers tastes of her “green gold,” and you can sign up your children for organic farming workshops at their farm.

Wine-tastings too

Olive ascolane, the giant, stuffed olives of the Ascoli Piceno area, are certainly one of the festival stars, for sale at many a booth. Not only: cooking classes for pre-schoolers and grade school children teach the little ones how to make this marchigiano specialty.

OUr olive are the best!
Olive ascolane to fry
Olive ascolane

Cooking classes by noted chefs are also part of ten-day festival program. We talked to chef Rosaria (from the Marches coastal area) as she and assistant Samantha prepared their bomboloni (fried “bombs”… well, they’re not light!), one with fillings of pecorino and ciauscolo (a fresh salami), one with anchovies and another made with wild field greens, pistachios and sesame.

IMG_9949

Her fried sandwiches are filled with three kinds of mousse: one of fave beans, another of pecorino (sheep’s milk cheese) and one of ciauscolo. “Why did you choose these ingredients?” I asked Rosaria as she mixed and molded with her assistants, Damiano and Chiara. With a reply she smiled, “Because on May 1st – Worker’s Day – workers in the villages would go into the countryside for picnics with simple ingredients, made from foods they grew, animals they raised.”

Mousse with a smile
Mouse in the panino

When you’re satiated with the foods and tasted the Marches wine varieties, you’ll need a walk. Guided walking tours of Ascoli are offered by local guides – or hop the trenino, put on the earphones and enjoy the guided tour (in English, too!) as the train winds down medieval backstreets, past the Roman arches, in front of Roman amphitheater ruins and into the charming porticoed Piazza del Popolo.

IMG_0129
Roman wall and bikers
Piazza

And if you missed this year’s Fritto Misto festival (the eleventh edition) in Ascoli Piceno, take heart: the Marches region has chosen Fritto Misto as one of the marchigiano culinary events representing the region at EXPO 2015 (in Milan), dedicated to foods.

Booths in the main square..tents
Piazza relax time

Le MARCHE MAJESTY

Anne Robichaud

by Anne Robichaud

An authorized Umbrian tour guide, Anne and her husband Pino worked the land for many years in the 1970’s so rural life, rural people, rural cuisine are una passione for her. See Umbria from “the inside”: join her May 2017 ten-day tour centered on discovering Umbria, Anne’s Umbria.

See www.annesitaly.com for more on her Umbria tours. Do see www.stayassisi.com for news on the Assisi apartment – and Assisi countryside guest house – she and Pino now rent out.

Anne writes frequently on Umbria and other areas of Italy. Read about her annual U.S. Feb/Mar cooking classes and lectures, as well as her numerous Italy insights on her blog.

26 Responses to ““Un Fritto Misto” of Goodness in Ascoli Piceno”

  1. Madaline

    Once again you have me craving not breakfast food for breakfast! Dang this oatmeal, how boring! And I cannot wait to start using “siamo fritti” as an expressions, well hopefully not too soon!

    Reply
  2. mary jane

    After reading this I am determined to go back to Ascoli (last visit was 1966!) especially for the olive all’ascolane.

    Reply
  3. Bob Lemon

    I knew this was written by Anne R. after the first paragraph. Her written, and spoken delivery are succinct yet colorful and her knowledge of food is excellent. Thank you for including this.

    Reply
  4. Love this note–well-told story and great photos! Your notes are always so enjoyable–keep them coming!

    Reply
  5. Gian Banchero

    The piazza in the second to the last photo is familiar to me, not that I’ve been to that particular piazza but it represents thousands of piazzas in towns and villages across Italy: looking a the wonderful photo I can hear the clinking of spoons stirring coffee, also the church bell that the town folks are familiar with and claim it as their kindly elder that announces births and the passing of people plus heralds the Catholic holidays, much like an aged nonna…. Also is experienced is a place with no parked cars nor sounds of traffic both which take the magic out of the moment. If the photo was taken in the morning then there’s the wonderful cool breezes from the evening turning warm, bringing in the coming heat of the day. Life is “a posto”, all in place, the coming day is another fine experience with work to be done, store to shop at (with a bit of innocent gossip), a lunch at a familiar restaurant (again with a little gossip), and when the day is done it’s time to visit the piazza again, this time to meet up with friends and in conversation solve all the world’s problems. Thank you again Anne!

    Reply
  6. Mary Cappiello

    How fun to see something about an area of Italy that I haven’t seen explored much in publications on Italy. Wonderful pictures, as usual with Anne’s articles! There’s not a festival you’ve written about that I want to miss! Too many wonderful places with wonderful traditions! Thanks for doing it yet again, Anne!

    Reply
  7. Angela Melczer

    Okay, now I am hungry! Thanks, Annie. My mother’s family made “pitta frita” on Christmas Eve…fried bread dough. Since we children did not like the bacala, it was our dinner with some wonderful cheeses!

    Reply
  8. Rosemary Johnson

    Another wonderful report Anne, with great pictures! I always seem to read your stories right around breakfast, lunch or dinner here in Chicago!! Whatever they’re serving up in Italy is always more interesting than what I was planning to eat!!!

    Reply
  9. marianna raccuglia

    Beautiful photos and wonderful article. I so look forward to your postings as they are always so interesting and make me want to be there.
    con affezione, Marianna

    Reply
  10. ms. Lou Nesstor

    Thank you so much! Now I want to visit there, too., I just went to Florence again a few months ago and now I have a new destination!

    Reply
  11. Jack Litewka

    Once again, I’m left salivating…and thousands of miles from satiation!

    Reply
  12. Ann Krapf

    Anne, you always manage to perfectly capture the food, festivals, and especially the people of Italy with your pictures and descriptions. Thank you

    Reply
  13. lisa Mushey Ryan

    Ahhhhh…. thank you Anne for showing us all the beautiful things in the magical space in the world that you inhabit.

    Reply
  14. Joseph DeRuyter

    Another great article! I especially loved the idiomatic expressions at the beginning….a most welcome addition to my ongoing efforts to learn the language.

    Reply
  15. Jean Brooks

    Anne definitely knows all the best places to show visitors in Umbria. Best tour guide EVER!!!

    Reply
  16. Now I’m hungry! I remember when I was in Ascoli Piceno and ordered a fritto misto, it came with cubes of fried cream! Like a custard but better. I still think about those little bits of heaven.

    Reply
  17. Stephanie W

    Well, while not normally a fan of fried food, you’ve definitely got me interested! First, Italian fajitas need to be tasted, as my ancestry is from MX & I love all things Italian, would love to taste the Italian interpretation. It’s got to be delicious! Someone at the SF Ferry building was selling bombolino as a sweet, stuffed with custard and preserves. I’d love to try the savory versions. I always love your pics of both food & place. The stone architecture & cobbled streets make me “homesick” for Italy and the culinary ones, well they make me darn hungry! Thank you, as always you keepy love of your country alive.

    Reply
  18. Janice

    One of the few cities I’ve always wanted to see but haven’t gotten to – looks like I should plan my visit for the next fried food festival. Thanks Anne!

    Reply
  19. Catherine Williams

    Another wonderful article, Anne! Once again, you a true gift at bringing so many things and experiences together to open the doors and let us really be in places you write about. Food, people, landscape, culture — and so much more. Thanks!

    Reply
  20. Oh, I am so sorry I couldn’t stay long enough to enjoy this!! Your photos are magnificent! It all looks fabulous and the information you provide brings sense to it all. Next year, Anne! I’ll be there……

    Reply
  21. Julie Bosworth

    Unbelievable! What great pictures and excellent descriptions. My mouth is watering! I can’t wait to come to Italy in Sept./Oct. and especially to see Annie in Assisi to visit her special city! There’s no one better with whom to experience Italy. Her passion for this beautiful country is undeniable!

    Reply
  22. Nancy M

    All of Anne’s posts have me craving Italy! I am so looking forward to her tour and will share upon return!

    Reply

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