Flavors of Craco
From 1892 - 1922 over 1,300 Crachesi left to
settle in North America, bringing with them ancient recipes
from Craco that no one had ever bothered to write down.
food preparation has always been an integral part of life
for Crachesi. Seasons are not just about knowing how to
dress for the weather, but for knowing when to plant the
garden, when to can bushels and bushels of tomatoes, when to
crush the grapes for wine, when olives should be pressed for
the best oil, and for knowing when soppressata and
prosciutto will cure best.
The flavors of the local food,
which enchants with its wholesome goodness, are robust,
sharp, and intense. Pork, pasta, bread and vegetables are
the stars of the table, and desserts are surprisingly good,
especially those generously sweetened with the local honey.
gets its taste from its strong spicy ingredients. It is
rich in flavors of wild herbs and tomatoes, silvery olives,
and prickly pear cactus. Red peppers abound, as do strong
sheep and goat cheese. There is sharp pecorino cheese,
delicious caciocavallo, and creamy burrata. The cooking
methods are simple with much baking and grilling.
there is little land available for grazing, so animal
protein has been enjoyed rarely and the killing of the
family pig (or of the landowner's pig, if the family
couldn't afford its own) every winter was a big event. What
little meat was consumed was roasted or baked in hearty
casseroles with potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and a scattering
of herbs for flavor. Today, meat plays is more important
role; pork is an integral part of the region's cuisine,
often made into sausages or roasted on a spit by home
cooks. Mutton and lamb are also popular meats. The quality
of the pork, mutton, or goat is excellent; however, the
dishes remain simple and robust, as in centuries past.
undoubtedly queen in this rocky landscape, cut and cooked a
thousand different ways. Typical pastas are the lagane
- small rough shaped lasagna, or the rolled miniuch
- similar to spaghetti with a hole. The sauces use all the
vegetables available, yellow with peppers, red with
tomatoes, green with chards.
portions of vegetables, mostly baked rather than sautéed or
fried, are a favored second course.
These include local bitter
onions, mushrooms, fava beans, artichokes, potatoes, and
peppers. Peperonata is a local favorite consisting
of sweet peppers, tomatoes and chili pepper, often mixed
with chunks of pork. A custom in southern cooking is the
liberal use of chili pepper.
Desserts are simple but delicious based on grain, nuts and a
particular use of local cheeses.
wines are rich and strong, full of hot sunshine. Basilicata
boasts a grandiose deep red wine in Aglianico del Vulture,
which carries the name of a vine introduced by the ancient
Greeks and the volcano on whose slopes they planted it.
When aged, it makes a towering match for lamb and cheeses.
Refreshingly tasty are the sweet and often bubbly Moscato