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La Strada dei Presidi

Presidio Slow Food

The Slow Food Presidia Route of the Matera Mountains

In the forests of the Materana Mountains and the middle Basento, in the heart of Basilicata, today largely included in the Natural Park of Gallipoli Cognato and the Piccole Dolomiti Lucane, pigs, in a not too distant past, grazed freely in the undergrowth and fed on tubers, roots, chestnuts, acorns, mushrooms. Most belonged to a rustic native breed, which has almost disappeared today: the Nero di Lucania. The availability of quality raw materials has strongly stimulated the very ancient production of cured meats. And among these the most particular is the beggar.
The name of this sausage refers to the origins of peasant life, to the need to preserve the meat for as long as possible and, above all, to make the best use of every part of the pig. While the "noble" parts were used by farmers for the production of soppressata, pancetta and bacon, the poor cuts were reserved for the beggar. Even the parts of the throat, invaded by blood at the time of slaughter, the nerves, the muscles that are most difficult to shred, the stomach, the residual fat from previous processing: everything was cut into strips and then minced. Sweet pepper from Senise, or spicy pepper, reduced to powder, wild fennel, chopped fresh garlic and sea salt were added to the meat mixture.
Its production takes place from November to March. The minimum maturation is two weeks for cooking and three weeks for raw consumption.

The first written testimonies on the baked olives produced in Ferrandina date back to 1700, but processing still takes place according to the traditional method, only partially adapted to modern times and technologies. Nobody uses wood-fired ovens for cooking olives anymore: they were abandoned starting from 1910 and progressively replaced by hot air dryers which initially came from Germany and which were only later built in Naples on the German model. This modernization quickly allowed local producers to establish business relationships not only with neighboring regions but even with the Americas, where they went so far as to ship large quantities of baked olives. Despite technological improvements, which have not affected the original quality of the product, production is drastically decreasing. In fact, the raw material is scarce: the majatica olives are almost entirely destined for the production of oil and there are only a few producers of batches in Ferrandina.
Among the main olive-growing areas of Basilicata, the Matera hills are characterized by the presence of a unique cultivar: the Majatica di Ferrandina. From this dual-purpose olive, i.e. suitable both for oil production and as a table olive, through a process that determines its drying according to a recipe handed down for generations, one of the most typical products of Basilicata is obtained: the baked olive of Ferrandina.
The olives intended for treatment are large, pulpy and black in colour. They are harvested when completely ripe, when they reach the right dark color and are dried. They are then blanched in boiling water for a few minutes, with the aim of debittering the olives, then they are drained, salted and flavored with oregano and wild fennel. After a few days of maturing they are dried at a moderate temperature with two subsequent firings in dryers which over time have replaced the traditional wood-fired ovens.



There are 177 Italian Slow Food Presidia and they involve over 1300 small producers: farmers, fishermen, butchers, shepherds, cheesemakers, bakers, pastry chefs.

They are concrete and virtuous examples of a new model of agriculture, based on quality, on the recovery of traditional knowledge and production techniques, on respect for the seasons, on animal welfare.

They save good products, that is, high quality and rooted in the culture of the area; clean products, i.e. obtained using sustainable techniques and respecting the territory; fair products, i.e. made in working conditions that respect people, their rights, their culture, and which guarantee a decent remuneration.

They strengthen local economies and encourage the creation of a strong alliance between those who produce and those who consume. Their products bear the "Slow Food Presidium" mark on the label or on the packaging, which identifies them and guarantees that the producers have signed a production specification based on respect for tradition and environmental sustainability.
The producers are united in associations that ensure compliance with the rules by exercising strict control over their members.
At the start of the project, only one producer still packaged the pezzente according to the traditional recipe with meat from pigs raised in the wild in the Matera woods; today the Presidium has welcomed a second producer who has decided to resume this typical process but the hope is that other butchers will also join the project with the aim of bringing the pezzente back to the tables of consumers in Lucania and beyond.

Production area
Municipalities of Accettura, Aliano, Calciano, Cirigliano, Garaguso, Gregolane, Oliveto Lucano, Stigliano, Tricarico (province of Matera).

The production of pezzente takes place from November to March. The minimum maturation is two weeks for cooking and three weeks for raw consumption