Gastronomy. The word itself conjures up images of European chefs and erudite food writers. But today’s new gastronome is a chef who cares about biodynamic farming, a farmer who cares about the quality and heritage of food, an artisan food producer who supports heirloom and rare varieties, even a home cook who finds adventure in exploring everything edible. Now gastronomy sounds friendly and sustainable. Good for the earth, and good for us. Good for you, Gastronomy.
August 12, 2013
Cinghiale: Wild Tuscan Boar
There is a bronze sculpture of a Wild Boar, Cinghiale in Italian, in the New Market Plaza, Piazza del Mercado Nuovo. I walked passed it every day on my way to class.
The custom is to rub his nose for good luck. His snout is buffed shiny from the
rubbing.If a boar is beautiful,
the sculptor captured it.Every
tuft of fur or is it coarse bristled hair, his relaxed pose, his front hoof out
in front as if he knows his image is being captured, his upper fangs hanging
out past his lip. . . his long snout makes him canine-like.I can’t help but fall in love with
him.I’m wondering if bacon from
boar is good.His ears invite my
fingers to dig through his fur to massage where he can’t reach like I used to
do for my floppy-eared Bernese Mt. Dog.
My hands want to massage his fat jowls.
He’s probably eyeing me for dinner.I find him cute.He is perhaps not a significant work of art – but a significant symbol of the culture here.He is strong, proud, good-looking, and probably delicious.
Tuscans have been eating wild boar since ancient times. They used dogs wearing armor to coax the pigs out of the forest.
The meat apparently tastes of the local chestnuts and acorns that the Cinghiale eat. It is available fresh in Tuscany only during hunting season, October through January. You can book a trip with a Tuscan hunting lodge and join one of the many hunt clubs in the region who kill and share boar equally among the members.
A typical preparation is to marinate the boar overnight to remove the bitter and gamy taste, especially an older animal, then grill slabs of the meat and slow cook them with herbs, spices, and vegetables. (Morais).
I found a recipe from Viktorija Todorovska of Oliva Cooking. Viktorija is passionate about food and teaches people to cook and helps them to write recipes. She has a cookbook about food in Puglia that appealed to me because my roots are from that region. Also, she paired the cinghiale with pappardelle which are pasta ribbons similar to the soft silky long flat pasta that I ate in Ventimiglia. That looks so delicious. Viktorija recommends a Tuscan or Umbrian red wine. (Todorovska).
Photo credit: Pappardelle al Cinghiale. Oliva Cooking, Viktorija Todorovska.
But alas, I am not hunting in Tuscany, but standing at the base of the sculpture of the idol pig where carvings of other creatures of the forest . . .
and the water . . .
and just like on the bridges, locks attached by lovers hoping that their love . . .