Le Marche is situated in the centre of Italy, between the Adriatic Sea and the Apennine mountains. It is wonderfully rustic, and culinary pleasures have their origin in a life of self-sufficiency on the farm. This means that the dinner table is mainly filled with local produce or things that – in the old days – could be ‘swapped’ for local produce: eggs for fresh sardines, or mushrooms and vegetables for fish. This food strategy focused primarily on meat, particularly farm animals. As a result we see a kitchen where chicken, duck, dove, goose and rabbit are playing the main part.
Add to this the fact that the Marche region is the last region before Central Italy where pasta is prepared exclusively with flour and water. Eggs fried in butter sprinkled with fresh truffle; cappelletti – a special type of tortellini – in bouillon from capon (a fattened, castrated rooster); and chicken or duck out of the oven, are typically regional dishes. Natural taste and pure quality can be found in the roosters, hens and rabbits in the yard. Along with many herbs they form the main ingredient of tasty dishes – potacchio arrosto, alla cacciatora and porchetta. In order to give extra flavour to the ragout, giblets of poultry are added. This is also the essence of the lasagna vincisgrassi, a kind of pasta from Macerata which is topped with a sauce of chicken livers, -hearts and -stomachs.
Another characteristic dish from the region is the brodetto di mare. Each place has its own variant which often tastes entirely different, but always with a lot of shellfish, mullet, herbs, olive oil and usually tomatoes and fresh vegetables. And then there are the ‘olive ascolane’ – olives stuffed with meat, then brined and baked, the way they were already eaten in Roman times. If you are looking for culinary surprises in the Marche, then you can’t miss the tartufo bianco (white truffle). This truffle is regarded as perhaps the finest in the world! You will find them from October to February on the markets of Sant’Angelo in Vado, Sant’Agata Feltria and Acqualagna. They express their full potential in a variety of local dishes and you can find them in many restaurants and ‘osterie’ in the interior.