Meat in the Mountains. An excerpt from "Walking in the Sibillini" by Tamara Griffith

Shepherd with his flock in the Sibillini Mountains
Shepherd with his flock in the Sibillini Mountains

"Meat in the Mountains

The most prized main course in the mountains was almost always meat, but these dishes were reserved for funerals and special occasions. Most of the meat recipes were extremely simple due to the limited ingredients available, and herbs were widely used. Rosemary, which grows wild in this area is a key ingredient with all meat dishes. Sage is also indigenous, used abundantly with meat. In ancient times Sage was also used to clean and brighten teeth by rubbing them with the leaves. Compared to today animals were slaughtered very sparingly indeed. Depending on the size of the family one pig, or two at the very most would be killed each year and this remained the case from remote times until self-sufficiency was lost in the 1960s. Each family had to find a way to make the edible parts of the pig last a whole year. If they ran out before the timeof the pig slaughter in January, they would go without. After the chestnut harvest in November the pigs were fed mainly chestnuts which gave the meat a special savoury quality and density.


Contrary to what one might imagine shepherds ate lamb seldom, since they preferred to wait for a lamb to be injured, ill, or attacked by wolves, ratherthan slaughter it. Partially this was due to the value of the wool they produced. The larger, lower towns like Amandola were centres for the wool trade, and a document from the Amandola archive dated 1634 testifies that nothing has ever been so profitable for the whole community as the production, and sale of wool which continued until the wool wasindustrialized."

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