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Fall Food: Chestnuts

Fall Food Festivals in Liguria & Mesciua Soup Recipe

Autumn is just such a wonderful time of year to get outside and enjoy the colorful scenery. It is also a delicious season! All across Italy, locals do not miss the chance to combine both aspects to better enjoy the months that lead onto the colder weather.

Even though the towns along the Gulf of Poets are not bustling with tourists as in the summer months, they celebrate local gastronomy and seasonal recipes by organizing foodie events.

Here are some of the upcoming fall food festivals in Liguria’s province of La Spezia.

 

Fagiolana Beans & Dried Cod Festival (Sagra della Fagiolana e Stoccafisso)

With only about 650 inhabitants, Maissana is a tiny, tiny village in the province of La Spezia. Every year, during the first and second Sundays of October, it celebrates the Fagiolana, a white bean that has been grown locally for over 2 centuries.

Fagiolana white beans: typical food in Liguria
Fagiolana white beans – image from blog.georgofili.it

At the food stands, you can enjoy this historic bean with different combinations. Do not miss the most popular specialty: fagiolana with boiled stockfish. In 2015, the event takes place on 4 and 11 October from noon onwards.

 

Farmer’s Market

Located within the Cinque Terre National Park, Levanto is a lovely town next to Monterosso Al Mare. It hosts the Farmer’s Market on the second and fourth Saturday of every month between April and the end of October.

Farmer's market in Levanto, Liguria
Fresh produce at the market – image from gazzettadellaspezia.it

La Spezia, on the Gulf of Poets, hosts the Farmer’s Market throughout the year on the first and third Sunday of every month (except August).

Strolling through the market stands allows you to learn about and taste typical agricultural products of the Riviera Spezzina, and also to experience the local lifestyle and to interact with the townsfolk.

 

Mushrooms Exhibition

Do you like eating mushrooms? Have you ever gone mushroom hunting? On 10-11 October 2015, the Firmafede Fortress in Sarzana will host the 8th Mushroom Exhibition, an interesting initiative to learn more about this wild product of the woods, how to identify eatable and poisonous species, and other peculiar facts regarding the world of mushrooms.

 

The Fair of Various Goods

On 11 October 2015, the town of Borghetto di Vara holds a varied fair involving period vehicles (cars, motorcycles, buses and even military machines), live shows and entertainment, horse-drawn carriage excursions and – of course – food.

Borghetto di Vara, Liguria
Borghetto di Vara – photo by Davide Papalini (CC BY-SA 3.0)

At the food stands, you can taste different local specialties including “asado” roasted meat, “sgabei farciti” or stuffed leavened bread dough, “caldarroste” chestnuts, and desserts like castagnaccio and frittelle.

 

Chestnut Festival

Calice al Cornoviglio is a town next to Liguria’s border with Tuscany, and back in 1964 it was the first to organize this kind of festival in the area of eastern Liguria and in nearby Massa Carrara. Chestnuts represent a traditional product of the area, and they played an important historic role in the sustenance and economic activities of local populations. In 2015, the festival takes place on 11 and 18 October. Apart from chestnut specialties, you’ll get to taste vino novello and to enjoy folk music and street performances.

 

Traditional Recipe: Mesciua Soup

If you can’t travel to Liguria this fall but would like to taste something traditional from the Bay of Poets, here is the recipe of a delicious local soup called Mesciua, ideal for chilly and cold days during fall and winter.

Mesciua: typical soup from La Spezia, Liguria
Mesciua Soup by Sara (One Girl in the Kitchen)

The name of the dish derives from “mescolata”, which means “mixed”. It’s a historic piatto povero (peasant’s dish) that originated in the harbor of La Spezia, where women would pick up the grains that had fallen on the pier after the ships were offloaded. Still today, this vegetarian soup is one of the simplest and least expensive dishes you could serve.

Here is the recipe by food blogger Sara from One Girl in the Kitchen

Ingredients
for 4/5 people
dried garbanzo beans          200 gr
dried cannellini beans         200 gr
wheat berries or farro          100 gr
olive oil, salt, black pepper as needed

 

Preparation

The night before, soak the beans separately, covering them with water, and let them sit for about 8 hours.

Drain and rinse, then put garbanzo beans and wheat berries in a large pot of lightly salted cold water, bring to boil and simmer for about 1 hour and 1/2.

Put the cannellini beans in a separate pot, cover with cold water and cook for about 1 hour.

Add them with some of their liquid to the garbanzo and wheat berries, season with salt and cook for another 15 minutes.

Season each plate with a bit of olive oil and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

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