If I were in Italy today…

An Adriatic beach in late summer, Abruzzo.

Crowds have thinned out at the beaches, but it’s still warm enough to enjoy! Grapes are beginning to ripen, and the market is filled with produce–tomatoes, lemons, tasty greens, eggplant, and the fragrance of basil. Blooming flowers cascade over walls and burst from their pots. A delightful season to enjoy the Italian south!

Even the calendar becomes a garden in Naples!

5th Friday Surprise: Blog tour of the Italian south!

Like the light at the end of this street in Salerno, the Italian south draws me to explore.

Join me today on a tour that will leave your hungry for more. I’m sharing some of the other blogs about southern Italy that have inspired me.

Michelle Fabio’s www.bleedingespresso.com is a favorite–she moved from Pennsylvania to her family’s ancestral village in Calabria, and stayed!

At www.napoliunplugged.com, Bonnie shares all things Naples, from transportation strikes to church services, in the city she describes as “beautiful, chaotic, unbending, romantic, confusing”. Get to know this vibrant, gritty city better!

If Sicily tugs at your heart, visit http://lostinsicilia.blogspot.com/ for a smorgasbord of Sicilian topics, like kid-friendly sightseeing, festivals and holidays, natural wonders, and lots more.

Mary at www.flavorsofabruzzo.com shares a lot about food, as the blog name suggests, but there are plenty of other topics sprinkling flavor throughout her posts.

Who hunts the wild boar?

One food I enjoyed in Italy, but seldom see in America, is wild boar. When we were staying in Sulmona, our friend Cesare took us through several mountain villages to see various monasteries and hermitages connected to Pope Celestine V (the subject of my research in central Italy).

We stopped for lunch in a village in the mountains of Majella National Park, and went to a restaurant called Belvedere, which hung on the edge of a precipice overlooking the wild hinterlands of Abruzzo. Vern was intrigued to find wild boar on the menu—cinghiale in Italian—and decided to try it. His curiosity was rewarded: the waiter soon delivered a huge bowl of savory chunky stew. The meat was similar to pork, and very tasty.

As we ate, I asked Cesare who hunts the wild boar they serve in the restaurant. At first he seemed not to understand the question, but I persisted. “Nobody hunts them,” he finally said.  “Where do they come from then?” I asked. “Una fattoria.”

Yes, it seems the ‘wild’ boar was raised on a farm! Quite a disappointment, as a boar hunt was fully formed in my imagination already.

Truly wild boars have proliferated in some areas of rural Italy, because their natural enemy, the wolf, has declined in population. According to some sources they now produce more offspring due to mating with domesticated pigs. They damage farms and gardens, and can be a traffic hazard.

My son and I found wild boar on the menu of La Dolce Vita restaurant in Seattle a couple of years ago, and like his dad, he had to try it. I don’t see it on their online menu now. I haven’t found any to try cooking myself, but I found a recipe online at http://italianfood.about.com/od/furredgameetc/r/blr1082.htm that looks pretty good. If you want to try it using pork, and just pretend it’s wild boar, go ahead—I won’t tell!