Friuli Venezia Giulia in tavola
The varied landscape and strong Austrian and Central European influences are evident the regional cuisine, based heavily on polenta, soups and salumi.
The landscape of Friuli Venezia Giulia changes dramatically as you travel through the region. Much of the land is rocky and rough, especially as you head north towards the Carnici hills and across the dry, stony area around Carsica. Follow the Tagliamento or Isonzo Rivers down towards the sea and you will find the flat, arid plains of Magredi.
Continue further south, and you will arrive at the poplar-covered lower flatlands. The region stretches all the way down to the Adriatic Sea and east to the Slovenian border. Many of the people and cultures in Friuli Venezia Guilia cannot be found anywhere else in Italy. The Hapsburg Empire had a lasting influence on the region. More recent changes in the regional culture have come from the nearby Slavic countries.
The food of Friuli Venezia Giulia is made up of a variety of flavors, which actually unite the cultures present in the region. The local polenta-eating habits come from the Veneto. When mixed with milk, vegetables, beans and salumi, polenta becomes a meal, in and of itself. The names of the respective dishes are zuf, mesta, paparot, and jota.
A Central European influence is evident in the consumption of soups and dumplings rather than pasta. You will find barley soups, cialson, or spinach dumplingsfrom Carnia, plum dumplings and pistum, another type of dumpling made with raisins and breadcrumbs.
There are a number of cured meats, or salumi, from Friuli worth seeking out. Prosciutto di San Daniele DOP is perhaps the most well known and sought after. You should also look for Prosciutto di Sauris, which comes from Sauris, a small city in Carnia where it is smoked and aged; Prosciutto Carsolino; and the rare Peta from Valcellina, a sausage stuffed with beef, goat, pork and the meat from furry game animals.
Muset, a sausage made from pork shin, snout and skin, pairs well with the sweet-sour taste of horseradish or brovada, a pickled turnip dish, similar to sauerkraut. Cevapcici is a Slavic dish of grilled pork, beef and lamb. Goose meat is also used to make salumi and smoked breast, thigh and sausage. Frico, a savory cheese crisp, is made with Montasio DOP, the most important regional cheese. Other local favorites include Latteria, Tabot and the salty, artisanal cheese of Carnia.
With Austria directly to the north, most of the regional desserts are interpretations of Austrian classics. Gubana is a type of fruitcake, as is presnitz. Strudel is also a popular dessert, especially in Trieste where it is called Strucolo, and stuffed with apples, or other seasonal fruit.