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7/17/2011

Going down to my roots: the Cicotto experience

"If unique, traditional and endangered food products can have an economic impact, they can be saved from extinction. This is the simple reasoning behind the Presidia; small projects to assist groups of producers".
Slow Food





You know, I am so proud to be Umbrian, I was born here and I live here in this green, amazing, mystic region located just in the centre, in the "heart", of Italy.
I am so devoted to my home-land that I decided that I need to try everything Umbria is able to offer, from wine to extra virgin olive oil, from cured meat to goat cheeses, from local specialities to home-made jams.

Following this mission, I accepted with great pleasure the invitation from Michela Menghini for a special "edu-dinnner" - under the patronage of Slow Food Valle Umbra - to (re)introduce a very ancient and almost disapperead dish: Cicotto.


I've been always afraid of Cicotto. Yes, "to be afraid of" it is the proper expression to explain my feelings towards this ancient recipe. I remember when I was a child, my nonna took me to buy some porchetta (the famous&yummy roast pork) on Saturdays, the day when in Todi there was - and still there is - the weekly market.
I remember the porchettaro (=butcher specialized in making porchetta) cutting those delicious slices of porchetta in his little kiosk, proudly showing a sign with this mysterious words on : "OGGI CICOTTO" (=today Cicotto).
Yes, because Cicotto was a mystery for me. My nonna always refused to answer my insisting questions on what this Cicotto was. "Cicotto is something that you don't like, Alessandra" I remember she said, putting in her big bag the porchetta wrapped in that light-brown paper, called carta-paglia, still used in the early 80s.

"Cicotto"

When I was a child, Cicotto was considered, infact, something that an educated and "posh" citizen from Todi (and when I say Todi, I mean the town, the historical centre) should deny the existence.
I can say that Cicotto has been probably one of the most despised traditional food for my generation, and it has seriously run the risk to disappear forever.

Today in 2011, thanks to the efforts of three young and dynamic producers - following the ancient recipes left by their grandparents and under the patronage and the support of Slow Food - now Cicotto is trying to become a so-called "Presidia" to be sustained as a quality production.



The three young&proud Cicotto makers

You know that "no part of the pig was wasted" (see also my previous post on pork production)...well friends...here we are!
Cicotto is made infact by the nobless parts of the pig, like knuckles, ears, entrails, snout that are roasted under the noble part: the porchetta.
In this way all the aromas used to stuff it, like fennel, garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper (together with an unspeakable quantity of fat, better forgetting it....) drip on Cicotto, giving it its special taste.

For sure Cicotto is not the healthiest food we have in Umbria, but together with its terroristic quantity of calories, it is able to contain all the culinary tradition of the region.
Cicotto is a real evidence of the simple life of our ancestors when Umbria was a rural region: it is the living evidence of their pains but also of their intelligence and, above all, of their ability in making "molto con poco" (=a lot with little).



Suggested wine matching: Cicotto goes very well with local aged red wines like Rosso di Montefalco or Sagrantino.

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