The cultural flatness and the human dependence on fast lifestyle, lead Gino Veronelli to bring in the Italian debate the De.Co instrument, to protect the Italian “gastronomic deposits”, part of an historical and civil heritage. The creation of the De.Co is based on the idea to protect the geographical productions and to give the human being a chance to “make a deal with the earth”.
The “pizze a furne apierte”
In Biccari, the De.Co are recognized for the first time in 2011: the “pizze a furne apierte” is the first product to be considered as De.Co, which is the most representative product of the local gastronomy. According to tradition, without specific technologies to control the temperature, bakers used to have empirical methods to reach the right temperature in the oven. One of the methods used to be this one: the baker took from the dough (pushed up in a big tissue) a piece of paste and put it, without baking pans, on the hob of the oven, leaving the front part opened. Before doing this, the baker “munneliave” (used to make) the oven passing a wet rag inside. After few minutes, when this paste was cooked, the oven reached the right temperature to cook the bread, passing from the brick red color to the glowing white. It came out a “schiacciata”, ancestor of the ancient “pizze a furn apierte”, enjoyed at the moment, waiting for the bread baking. Originally, the dough was the same as the bread: flour, water, potatoes, yeast and salt. Then, the dough was enriched with simple ingredients to make the “schiacciata” tastier. After the second world war, oil (produced by the olive groves in Biccari), oregano and, depending on the tastes, chili pepper were added.
Other local products that obtained this recognition are the extra-virgin olive oil, the goat cacioricotta cheese (“U’ Mascjuottele”) and the black pork sausage.
Biccari’s extra-virgin olive oil is linked to the olive groves of the village. The olive groves and the ground have relevant features, which provide specific organoleptic characteristics to the product. From the analytic perspective, it keeps its acidity levels around 0,3, with a peroxide number of 9 units which guarantee over 18 months shelf-life from the production date. Biccari’s extra-virgin olive oil is produced by the processing of olives collected by the Ogliarola cultivar. It is said that, the Ogliarola variety in Biccari appeared in the territory many centuries ago, with the arrival of the Greek civilization. The relevant typical feature depends on the soil and climatic conditions that lead to the improvement of the Cultivar intrinsic characteristics making it autochthon. Biccari’s Evo oil taste is really pleasant, sweet with a slightly spicy aftertaste that exalts its flavor.
The “Mascijuottele”, our cheese
U’ Mascjuottele is a cheese produced by the processing of goat’s milk. It is a cheese made without maturation with a fresh taste, slightly salted, without crust. Cacioricotta’s smell is delicate, with scents of herbs and has a sweet taste. It can be consumed fresh or after 15 days, as grating cheese. It is usually prepared from June to September, because in this period there is a great production of goat’s milk. The goat Garganica is an ancient race native to the Gargano area. Thanks to the transhumance phenomenon, shepherds used to move during summer months towards the freshness of Dauni sub-Appenines, so that this species has become typical of Biccari’s territory. Even though the race adaptability, perfect for the mountain soul and atmosphere characteristics, in the last period the number of animals has decreased. It has a dual-purpose: dairy and meat. Bred in the wild, it is visually recognizable: long haired, smooth and raven, a tuft in the head and beard under the chin, horns flattened laterally with diverging tips to describe an arc. Garganic goat’s milk is traditionally used to produce fresh or grater cheeses and to make the Cacioricotta, in order to use all the milk’s proteins as those of ricotta cheese. It was the cheese historically linked to the roughest territories, where goats used to be called the cow of poor people.
Biccari’s black pork sausage
Biccari’s black pork sausage is produced by filling up a black pork (of Apulia-Calabrian race) natural casing, mixing lean and fat parts cut with the tip of a knife, seasoned with salt and peppers. It may be consumed fresh (after cooking) or dry (cured). Its production is linked to ancient local traditions and preservation system that allowed to extend meat consumption. Winter cold weather allowed the product drying. There were iron hooks in every houses ceiling to hang up sausages. Cold and dry weather joined with the salting of the products make the sausages unique.
Thanks to Marlena Checchia for the translation.