The Food and Cuisine of Trentino Alto Adige

Trentino Alto Adige cooking draws as heavily from its Germanic roots as it does from its Italian heritage. Most of the dishes are hearty and come from the peasants of the region. Over many years, the residents of this autonomous region in Italy have created a unique blend of the two cuisines. Goulash is served with cornmeal polenta. Pizza and pasta is as likely to be on the menu as sauerkraut.

Polenta is staple food in Trentino Alto Adige cuisine, but it may contain potatoes or buckwheat instead of or in addition to cornmeal. It is often served with wild game or mushrooms and liberally flavored with butter and cheese. In addition to polenta being eaten hot as a grain or sliced and fried, these grains can be made into a cake known as smacafam. It is also made into trisa, a hot soup of cornmeal and wheat flour cooked with butter and milk.

In addition to ravioli and tagliatelle, Trentino Alto Adige cuisine features strangolapreti, a spinach and cheese flavored potato and flour gnocchi, which literally translates to “priest stranglers”. They also serve a long tube shaped noodle called bigoi. Spätzli, a small handmade noodle, often is served alongside beef dishes.

Canederli, a bread dumpling, is one of the famous regional dishes. Trentino Alto Adige cooking offers these with meat, in soup or even filled with fruit for dessert. Another well-known food is broth with leberknödelsuppe, another kind of dumpling made from bread, calves liver and herbs.

Filling soups are very popular in this northeastern region of Italy. Trentino Alto Adige recipes for soup include minestra di trippa, a bread thickened soup with tomato sauce, vegetables and tripe. Saursuppe, another tripe soup, is flavored with herbs, onion, nutmeg and white wine. Barley soup, known as orzetto or Gerstensuppe, is made with vegetables, onion, garlic and a local smoked pork called speck.

Speck is also served as an appetizer or snack with hearty rye bread or crackers. Trentino Alto Adige recipes make many kinds of sausages, including hauswurst, from pork. This sausage is enjoyed  served with horseradish, pickles and sauerkraut. Blood is used with walnuts, pine nuts and chestnuts to make biroldi con crauti. These nutmeg, cinnamon and clove flavored sausages are also  accompanied by sauerkraut.

Beef is marinated in a brine with juniper berries, herbs and pepper to make carne salata. When sautéed in butter, it is served with polenta or beans. It can also be sliced and eaten raw. Dried cod is also eaten in Trentino Alto Adige cuisine. Beef is also enjoyed braised slowly in flavorful sauces.  Rindsgulasch, or beef goulash, is a hearty beef stew. Sauerbraten is a stewed beef roast flavored with onions, vinegar and wine.

Food from this region features many different kinds of meat. Pork and poultry are raised at home and hunters bring home rabbit, venison, mountain goat and the chamois. This unusual game animal is served with salt pork in an herb flavored vinegar and sour cream sauce. Fresh water fishing provides brook trout. This fish is served with melted butter after cooking in vinegar, lemon, bay leaf, and clove flavored white wine.

Trentino Alto Adige recipes are well known for their flavorful apple desserts. Apfelküchel is a cake full of pieces of apple. Rolling delicate pastry for apple strudel requires many years of practice. Other well known desserts include a jam filled fried or baked pastry called krapfen. A sweet variation of  smacafam are also made with nuts, raisins and aniseed flavoring. A Christmas specialty is zelten, a rye cake with provincial variations. It is often made with nuts, candied fruit, honey, cinnamon and liqueur.

Olive Oils:
Garda PDO

Fruits:
Mela Val di Non PDO, Mela Alto Adige or Südtiroler Apfel PGI

Fresh & Cured Meats:
Mortadella Bologna PGI, Speck dell'Alto Adige PGI

Cheeses:
Asiago PDO, Grana Padano PDO, Provolone Val Padana PDO, Spressa delle Giudicarie PDO, Stelvio PDO


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