In Costano, Porchetta Reigns at La Sagra
“Sua Maesta’, La Porchetta” (“Her Majesty, La Porchetta“) is the title of an article in a local Assisi-area magazine on the Sagra della Porchetta.
…..and yes, queen of this August 10-day sagra (a village food festival) was certainly la porchetta: pork roasted on a spit all night and seasoned with garlic, local olive oil, rosemary, sage, and wild fennel.
In Latium, Abruzzo and Umbria – and not only – porchetta slices are generally slipped into panini and here in Umbria, the white truck of the porchettaio is a fixture at every weekly outdoor market.
Shoppers line up for un panino di porchetta.
At the porchetta sagra of Costano. near Assisi – now in its forty-sixth year – many were lined up at the booths near the sagra entrance to order simply panini di porchetta.
Inside the booth, four or five butchers were expertly slicing pork while T-shirted helpers rapidly grabbed panini out of a brown paper bag, then sliced them.
Tables nearby were filled with happily munching diners.
Many were in line at the booth to order sliced porchetta and rolls to take home for family feasting.
Others opted for a full-meal in the food tent. And why not an aperitif beforehand? (How about a DOC prosecco at just 3 Euro?!)
The dinner menu posted near the food tent offered antipasti, first and second courses, and side dishes at prezzi popolari (literally, “prices of the people” or affordable prices)
We placed our order and then headed to a table. Smiling young volunteers in red T-shirts cleared and set tables.
….while older helpers served up the goodness….
..and as i photographed those smiling teens, I noticed that a favorite second (second course) on the menu seemed to be the “pig burger classic”
I was there with a new friend, Dolores, and we both chose just an antipasto to share followed by primi (first courses).
A favorite Umbria pasta dish, penne alla norcina, appealed to Dolores. And she used the Italian gesture for “buonissimo!” to show me what she thought of that dish.
Named after Norcia – Umbria mountain town noted for centuries for pig butchering skills and the transformation of pig meat into prosciutto, capocollo, sausages, pancetta, salami – this penne dish is made with white wine, the meat of sausages, cream and white onion. The Costano sagra version includes mushrooms, too.
I was intrigued by this sagra‘s tortelli : a sort of round ravioli stuffed with porchetta, parmigiano reggiano and dill: buonissimi!
A couple near us had ordered another enticing primo: gnocchi al porchettaio. That “gnocchi of the pork vendor” was topped with a meat sauce made of sausage and pork ribs.
…..and a family of three on our other side chatted with us as they savored their tasty sagra dishes, including pork shank with oven-roasted potatoes.
All around us groups of families and friends enjoyed each other’s company while sharing traditional Umbrian rural goodness, for this is living the tradition of la sagra.