Food and wine
in Gemona del Friuli
Gemona del Friuli. A true paradise for fans of wholesome traditional food, a place for discovering truly special farm produce and two Slow Food Heritage Foods: “Pan di sorc”, and “Formaggio di latteria turnaria”, cheese made in communal dairies.
Slow Food Heritage Foods Gemona
The people of Friuli love their traditional cuisine, just as people from all regions of Italy are proud of the specialities produced in the mosaic of different territories and microclimates that is the Italian peninsula. In Gemona del Friuli food and wine are bound up with tradition, with the sense of hospitality and with the vast selection of locally produced food and wines available in the local shops.
Gemona has plenty of different producers, products and traditions, such as its cured meats: the town’s “norcini” or experts in cured meats went out to work in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, handing down the secrets behind exquisite sausages that are still made by the local butchers, along with lard, pancetta (bacon), luianie, (sausages), musetto (a sausage similar to cotechino) and salami. Cereal-growing produces excellent flours used to bake bread and cakes. A number of traditional food products from the Gemona area are included in the Ministerial List (PAT): syrup of elderberry flowers, apple vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and Prosecco di Gemona, all available in local shops. Traditional local products also include syrups and liqueurs.
Gemona del Friuli has its own traditional recipes combining ancient traditions with a variety of top quality products. The town’s culinary proposals arise out of its history and culture, and, with a view to recovering the area’s gastronomic memory, a number of outstanding local products have been rediscovered in recent years, with recognition of two Slow Food Heritage Foods: Pan di sorc and Formaggio di latteria turnaria, cheese made in traditional communal dairies.
Slow Food in the Gemona area: Heritage foods and Ark of Taste products
Slow Food is an international non-profit association for the protection of producers who work with respect for the environment and natural ecosystems; Slow Food Heritage Foods are projects for the protection and support of small local forms of production at risk of disappearing, with the goal of drawing attention to local communities and ancient skills.
The Gemona area is the part of Friuli with the highest concentration of recognised local products, and the place where Slow Food, in partnership with the l’Ecomuseo delle Acque del Gemonese, and the area’s small producers and processing companies, works to preserve traditional local foods and wines and to relaunch the area, with all the potential and wealth of its traditional flavours. A number of culinary products and traditions are included in the Slow Food Ark of Taste: Cinquantino bianco di Gemona white maize, Cinquantino rosso di Buia red maize, the Cjanorie grape varietal, the Bianchera olive and the Crafùt meatball; yet more products have been acknowledged as Heritage Foods.
Pan di sorc: a Slow Food Heritage Food representing the region’s history
Pan di sorc
The ancient Pan di sorc has been brought back onto the tables of Gemona under a project by Ecomuseo delle Acque and the municipalities of Gemona, Artegna, Buja, Osoppo, Majano and Montenars. Pan di sorc is a sweet, spicy bread originally eaten at Christmas time, made from a blend of three different flours: wheat flour, rye flour, and cinquantino maize flour (known as “sorc” in Friulian dialect). Cinquantino – thus called because it takes about 50 days to mature – was grown in the wheatfields after the wheat had been harvested, permitting a double harvest, for sale and for the family’s own nourishment. The blend of three flours may be supplemented with dried figs, wild fennel seeds, raisins, walnuts and cinnamon. Pan di sorc dough was originally made at home and then brought to the communal oven for baking.
Pan di sorc has a fragrant, aromatic crust recalling polenta, a dish made of maize flour, water and salt traditionally eaten by the common people of Friuli as a side dish. It used to be eaten both sweet and in a savoury version, with cured meats. Once it became hard and dry, it could be used as an ingredient in crafùts, which were meatballs made of pork liver and kidneys, minced and blended with breadcrumbs, raisins, lemon peel and apples, cooked with fried onions and served with fresh polenta made with Cinquantino maize flour.
Traditional flours and sustainable production in the new Pan di sorc
The traditional Pan di sorc recipe has been reconstructed in an operation of “culinary philology”. To return to the ancient recipe that survived among only a few local families, the Ecomuseo started with flour production – rye, wheat and maize – using the methods of the past, which are more sustainable and respectful of the environment and the landscape. Then a number of local millers and bakers joined forces to begin production.
This complex operation permitted reconstruction of a high quality, sustainable, zero-kilometre food, restoring the special bond between the producer and the consumer. Along with Pan di sorc, ancient methods of cereal cultivation, milling and baking were reclaimed, know-how and traditions that could easily have been lost forever.
To find out more, listen to the testimony of baker Domenico Calligaro and miller Anedi Basaldella at www.pandisorc.it, (in Friulian dialect with Italian subtitles), or participate in baking courses held by the Association of Pan di sorc producers.
From bread to cheese: communal dairies and the history of cheese in Friuli
Cheese from communal dairies
The second Slow Food Heritage Food of Gemona is formaggio di latteria turnaria, cheese made in communal dairies. Latterie turnarie were cooperative dairies processing raw unpasteurised milk from small local livestock farms under a system referred to as “turnario”, because the cheese was assigned to the members in turn. This model was very common throughout the Alps at one time, but was gradually abandoned in favour of large-scale dairies.
Where does the name “Latterie turnarie” come from?
The cattle farmers who brought their milk to these dairies wrote down the information on the milk they contributed to the dairy every day, and were assigned the cheese made on a certain day on the basis of the amount of credit they had accumulated. This meant cattle farmers could decide whether to take the cheese made on that day and sell it themselves, or allow the dairy to sell it.
Over time, many of these “latterie turnarie” communal dairies gave way to cooperative dairies, in which each member received a cash payment for the milk contributed, instead. To find out more, listen to the testimony of a cattle farmer on www.latterieturnarie.it (in Friulian dialect with Italian subtitles).
The story of friulian cheese, a slow food heritage food
Historical documents in the archives of Gemona del Friuli reveal that as early as the late eighteenth century, a number of households in the Osoppo area had reached an agreement to take turns processing their milk, using their own equipment. The first “latteria turnaria” communal dairy is recorded in 1881 in the village of Forni Avoltri, in Carnia, in the province of Udine.
But the communal dairy system has come through a number of crises over the years. In Friuli, this was especially the case after the 1976 earthquake, when large-scale dairies were preferred to keep operating costs down and offer the standardised product in demand among the supermarket chains.
Dairies in the history of Friuli
Gemona has a number of top-quality small dairies for top-quality local production. The genuine traditional cheeses available at various points of sale reflect the heritage of local traditions, and more. What makes the difference in traditional cheeses is the care taken at every stage in the process.
In the case of the “latteria turnaria” communal dairies, there are also other factors at stake, such as the type of cattle, the way they are raised with a focus on the well-being of the animals, and their diet strictly composed of locally grown fodder. The cheese made by Latteria turnaria di Campolessi,is a Slow Food Heritage Food made on the basis of strict regulations: raw unpasteurised milk is processed by traditional methods, adding only salt and rennet.
Anche in questo caso, come per il Pan di sorc, è stato salvaguardato un modello di produzione di grande valore storico e ambientale. Le latterie turnarie sono parte della storia delle comunità rurali friulane, avendo valorizzato e sostenuto i piccoli allevatori sparsi nel territorio prima dell’avvento dei grandi stabilimenti.
Record-breaking tiramisù and profiteroles in Gemona
The name of Gemona del Friuli appears in the Guinness Book of World Records, in the food section! In May 2015, 150 volunteers made the world’s biggest tiramisù: more than 3015 kilograms and 250 dishes, for a big celebration in Piazza del Ferro.
In April of the following year, 2016, a delicious dish of profiteroles appeared, the exact weight of which remains unknown. These are not traditional local products, but desserts well-known all over Italy and abroad, and they have earned Gemona an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records!