GREAT OPPORTUNITY!: Anne Robichaud will be teaching Umbrian rural cuisine classes in private homes in Feb/Mar in the U.S. Contact her if interested. And/or join her in May 2016 for ten days of discovering Umbria, Anne’s Umbria.
Quando piove e tira vento, il cacciatore perde tempo (Lit., “when it rains and the wind blows, the hunter wastes his time”) says the old saying, thus verifying why Ristorante/Bar Da Giovannino near our house was full of wild boar-hunters one rainy autumn Saturday. As heavy rains bucketed down, hunters in camouflage suits and the required fluorescent vests sat in the bar, sharing “missed hits” stories of past cinghiale hunts over espresso or panini di prosciutto with vino rosso – or shots of grappa (“takes the chill out of the bones”, elderly Siverio affirmed).
All headed out for wild boar as soon as the rain let up. The two caposquadra (team leaders) of our mountain area, Sergio and Italo, left with kilos of sliced prosciutto and paper bags of sliced bread for their respective squadre, each of about thirty men, all equipped with radios in their pockets (required by law) so that each knows the location of all. The number of dogs they’ll take varies: a team of about thirty will use twenty dogs or more.
Sergio and Italo applied to the Regione dell’Umbria to be caposquadre, taking the required 3-day course on hunting laws, environmental awareness and rigid safety measures. Before each hunt, la squadra meets at Giovannino’s and the caposquadra must fill out a form stating point of departure, time of return and listing all men hunting that day (each must sign his name on the list). If there is an accident – and mamma mia, local newspapers unfortunately report too frequently accidental deaths due to a squadra member mistaking a fellow hunter’s movements for a cinghiale – the responsibility lies on the caposquadra until an investigation proves otherwise.
Americo, a farmer/sculptor, has the most beautiful gun of anyone in the squadra: he carved the stock with scenes of wild boar hunts on one side, portraits of his dogs on the other. Giancarlo, friend Peppa’s son, is appassionato, too of wild boar hunting. If la squadra brings in a boar, what a feast afterwards: the hunters butcher the boar together, dividing up the meat. You might try cinghiale at an Italian restaurant but no one cooks it like the wife – or mother – of a wild boar hunter. Peppa serves her cinghiale stew with torta (Umbrian flatbread) on the side – and so does Americo’s wife Olga. Olga’s is probably the best cinghiale I’ve ever tasted: maybe it’s the juniper berries?