Pasta alla Norcina: an Assisi and Norcia Link
A small frazione (a “fraction” or suburb) of Assisi, Rivotorto, has a big heart: for three mid-February nights, local volunteers cooked up Norcia specialties as a fund-raiser for this southeastern Umbrian mountain town, damaged in the October 2016 and January 2017 earthquakes.
And this is their “second time around”: in September, the village put on dinners starring pasta all’amatriciana as a fund-raiser for Amatrice (in Latium) devastated by the August 24th shake-up.
And main dish for the Norcia fund-raiser? Logicamente, pasta alla norcina (with Norcia sausages, white wine, cream): Una Norcina per Norcia.
And for those preferring a soup, what better than those famous baby lentils of Castelluccio di Norcia (also devastated)…?
Le lenticchie di Castelluccio
Second course? Grilled meats with oven-baked potatoes. And out behind the food tent, smoky clouds billowed out over Livio, Franco and Stefano flipping meats on the grill – as they had done last summer for the Amatriciana benetit.
Livio, Franco and Stefano, volunteers on the grill
Stefano on the job
Livio handled the steaks and sausages. “We grill up 40 kilos of sausages per night, “ he told me as he flipped them.
Sausages could not be missing from a Norcia grigliata mista for the town has been famous for centuries for the skilled butchers turning farm-raised local pigs into prosciutto, capocollo, lonzo, salami, pancetta, guanciale, porchetta and salsicce. Anywhere in Italy, a pig butcher is called “un norcino” – and two norcini from Norcia were there each night of the festival demonstrating their norcineria skills. Antonio and Francesco – both butchers from a young age – sliced pork for lonzo, capocollo, salami and sausages at a long steel table in the food tent.
Antonio and Francesco, both norcini at a young age…
Near the butchers’ demonstration table, families feasted on the goodness, served up by young volunteers running laden food trays from the kitchen, while others set tables. I recognized many of those smiling faces from early September’s “Amatriciana di Solidarieta’” fund-raising dinners.
Milena and Giulia set up the tables
Diletta with the frappe’ (dessert), Alessia, Martina (with main courses)
Boys help out, too!
Not everyone chose the pasta alla norcina or grilled meats – or both: some ordered just the salumi e formaggi tipici di Norcia, an abundant dish on its own:
As I was leaving, I passed Antonio and Francesco, now busy with sausage-making tasks, grinding garlic and measuring out mounds of salt and pepper. Children were watching them and one little boy confided to the other, “When I”m old like them, I’m going to be a norcino, too.”
Click here for a pasta alla norcina recipe
Click here for more on Norcia and the earthquake
Read about – and see – Norcia earthquake damage
Read about – and see! – the famous lenticchie di Castelluccio
Read about – and see – bellissimo Castelluccio before the earthquake – and after
Read about a famous Norcia norcineria
Read about Rivotorto’s benefit dinner for Amatrice
Read more about Amatrice and amatriciana
Good times at our amatriciana dinner
Read about an Umbrian town with earthquake damage