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Cuisine of Abruzzo

Updated: Sep 29, 2020

As we all know, Italy is famous for many things. There are world class cities such as Rome, Milan, Naples and Venice filled with iconic landmarks, priceless works of art and the cultural heritage of the Italian people. Italy is also, perhaps, the capital of the world when it comes to fashion, creativity and innovation. But any conversation about Italy usually starts with FOOD! There is so much regional variety to be discovered: Naples is the home of pizza and in Rome you will find dishes such as Cacio e Pepe and Carbonara. The region of Abruzzo has a distinctive culinary of its own, drawing heavily on the local ingredients found in the mountains and hills of the area. If you are a meat lover, you will love Abruzzo as the typical diet of the inland areas draw heavily on pork and sheep in particular. Here are some of my personal favorites that I have tried while visiting with my wife Dayana, a native of Abruzzo.

1. Arrosticini

Arrosticini (also known as rustelle in local dialect) is more than just a famous traditional food of Abruzzo- its a way of life! The beauty of it lies in its simplicity; it is chunks of sheep meat on a skewer coated with a bit of salt and cooked on an elongated type of charcoal grill called a ‘fornacella.’ Any gathering of friends and family, small or large, will undoubtedly feature arrosticini and often several dozens (or hundreds!) of them can be consumed by even a small group. There is usually a person, or multiple people, in charge of the fornacella and they are served on the table in a typical boot-like container. Trying arrosticini for the first time as an outsider, it seems, is a real experience. They are a real part of the identity of Abruzzo and the locals are very curious to know if you enjoy the taste. Luckily for me, I took a liking to them and I soon found out that you don’t have to be shy about eating as many of them as you want. In fact, we like to joke that the more meatless wooden skewers that you accumulate on your plate makes you become a true Abruzzese. Here in New York, we have found a company called D’Abruzzo that distributes an American version of Arrosticini made with lamb instead of sheep, which we highly recommend trying.

2. Porchetta