My introduction to the cuisine of Basilicata or Lucania begins in Matera. After parking the car in the outskirts of the city, I walk through the historic centre along the main street Via del Corso until I reach a courtyard on my right. Here is the restaurant La Fedda Rossa where I meet owner Annalisa de Bellis.
Annalisa: “The restaurant’s name ‘Fedda Rossa’ or ‘red slice’ is a local dialect for bruschetta topped with red, fresh tomato. It is a typical dish from the ‘cucina povera’ or ‘kitchen of the poor’. It is also the philosophy of our restaurant: simplicity combined with quality.” Meanwhile, I get a glass of vino della nostra zona, or wine from our region that Annalisa recommends. It is, of course, a red Aglianico.
I ask Annalisa what makes bruschette so popular here in Matera. She replies that it is made of bread based on durum wheat that has grown for centuries in this area . The bread was baked only once a week but lasted a whole week. People ate it in the morning, afternoon and evening.
Annalisa: “The old bread was grilled over coals or wood and then seasoned. It was a great accompaniment to grilled meat or other delicacies. Bruschette were often the evening meal and were cooked in a fireplace. Families gathered around the fire in the evening to warm themselves and tell the stories of the past day to each other. It was a ritual that lasted even until the 1950s. Now bruschette are very popular with the many tourists who visit Matera. It is a very simple recipe and, of course, most delicious with Matera bread and tomatoes that grow in the sun. A bruschetta from the peasant tradition (contadina) is one topped with caciocavallo cheese and topped with bacon or pancetta and grilled potatoes. The bread we use for bruschette is large and the toppings are usually heavy. Therefore, it can pass for a whole meal.”
Address: Le fedde rosse, Via del Corso 90, Matera