So from now on we'll start to introduce you to some of the most renowned local dishes, with tips as to the matching wine, which you'll easily find and enjoy in many typical Friulian restaurants – osteria and trattoria – all around the region.
Just as Trieste's traditional soup, jota, probably created to give leftovers a new life. It's made of beans, finely shredded pickled cabbage leaves, potatoes plus an addition of, depending on the cook's will: luganiga (local sausages), smoked pork ribs or ham's bone. All stirred for a long time in a great saucepot.
The origin of the name “jota” is uncertain but it could be as ancient as the dish itself: locals use to say they mastered the recipe back in Charlemagne days... Actually it could come from the Latin “jutta”, meaning “broth”, a term with Celtic roots. And it goes along pretty well, during lunchtime, with still red wines. For example, some of our Cabernet Franc or Cabernet Sauvignon, and even our tasty Schioppettino.
Another treat not to be missed when in Friuli, especially near Carnia, is a rich portion of frico, the local pie. Its main ingredient is the yummy local cheese, often a mix of aged Montasio DOP and fresh malga's (mountain cottage) cheese. It used to be farmers' lunch during the break from a hard day's work, and also mountaineers', because in it they often reused cheese left from the making of cheese wheels (“strissulis”, little stripes). The mixed cheese is melted in a frying pan and enriched with smashed potatoes and sautéed onions... Mouthwatering, isn't it? And a full glass of our Merlot or our Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso will add an extra savour to it.
The word “frico” could come from the French “fricot” which refers to a mix of cooked vegetables. And, as it often happens in Italy, there's a “sacred” twist in frico's story... They say Udine's patron saint, Saint Ermacora (300 A.D.), somehow dealt with its creation: as a pilgrim, a poor peasant gave him shelter and cooked for him the very first frico.
We'd also like to suggest you some interesting, kitchen-related readings along our journey through Friulian culinary traditions: the first one is “Mangiare Triestino”, a book by Mady Fast and published by Tarka, including more than 300 recipes and a brief history of Trieste and its area.
Well, we got a bit hungry while writing this piece, so... Don't miss the next round with Friulian cooking&drinking's recommendations!
Frico photo taken from Cucina friulana Facebook page