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Bergamo capital of culture: Bergamo recipes

Genuine food and Bergamo the capital

The city of Bergamo tells of a special relationship between food defined as poor because it is a product of the earth and being genuine. Once upon a time the areas, especially the valleys, were populated by humble people, who made agriculture their survival activity even before it was a trade, the art of barter existed, and to this day, in some remote villages, it survives the art of making do by creating ingenious jumbles which in the eyes of some appear to be jumbles while for true connoisseurs they take on creative traits from times gone by.

The same attention and desire to amaze was - and still is - put into the dishes brought to the table which, children of the earth, become the focal point to express the maximum of genuine and natural flavour.

Beef, DOP cheese, wheat and little else offer amazing combinations!

Bergamo and Brescia are, for 2023, capitals of culture and, for a tour of the city you also need to know how to enhance tastes, here's what to choose from the menu.

Traditional recipes and tasty treats

Beyond beef, crossing valleys capable of producing exceptional DOP cheeses, without neglecting typical desserts rich in sugar and savory variations. The Bergamo area offers various experiences which, combined with the local dialect, make a unique and unforgettable trip.

Italian tradition links many dishes with popular sayings or extravagant names that are difficult to repeat for those who are "not local", but this also represents a detail of the experience that makes the tasting even more intriguing. Plaste also talks about it in the piece written for the opening ceremony of Bergamo Brescia Capitals of Culture 2023.

polenta taragna

The land with over 9 DOP marked cheeses boasts multiple recipes with different excellences as protagonists. There is one, however, which manages to convey an excellent taste balance and without half measures: its majesty the Polenta Taragna!

Beyond the classic yellow polenta, towards a more full-bodied and grainy consistency that combines corn flour and buckwheat.

Towards the end of cooking you need to add two more ingredients: branzi and fontina, to give life to the "polenta onta or ucia" depending on the dialect.

Taragna becomes a side dish to full-bodied dishes such as braised meat or baked rabbit, the undisputed protagonist if there are mushrooms or local salami on the table - another culinary spectacle of the area.

Scarpinocc from Bergamo

The Scarpinocc recipe meets the tastes of vegetarians and is considered the "light" version for the people of Bergamo and for the "poor" since it is based only on vegetables. The bizarre name derives from the ancient footwear once worn by the inhabitants of Parre. The filling made of cheese, butter, eggs and breadcrumbs is enriched with flavor thanks to garden spices such as sage and rosemary.

The shape is rounded and the creation is very simple, once again it is filled pasta made with 00 flour, egg yolk and - strictly - lukewarm water. The seasoning is always the same and consists of melted butter, sage and a little grated parmesan.

Bergamo Casoncelli

More famous than scarpinocc and far from a simple stuffed pasta, casoncelli in Bergamo are called Casonsei alla bergamasca.

A stuffed pasta with a secret recipe, different for every housewife who chooses to cook.

The idea is very simple, once upon a time they prepared with what was available, which is why it is different for each hearth.

Some add flakes of dark chocolate, for others the inevitable is lemon zest, the base is minced beef and pork to which the other ingredients are added.

For the seasoning it is essential that there is sage left to sizzle in the melted butter, sometimes hazelnut oil is used. The first course is a must on the tables of Bergamo celebrations, an inevitable element in all popular festivals, it becomes the protagonist thanks to the tradition of preparing casonsei in company.

A common custom, especially for patronal celebrations, is to gather in common spaces such as the oratory or the sports center and prepare tables full of ravioli to be divided into rigorous dozens.

Polenta and osei: between sweet and savory

And here is the first gap that ranges from sweet to savory. Polenta and osei is a dish - or rather two - that manages to bring together adults and children alike, if children prefer to enjoy a dessert without too many hesitations, adults love seeing a rich and colorful dish capable of conveying strong flavors and also warming who is more sensitive to the cold.

Polenta: sweet version

The typical dessert offered to tourists that fills the shop windows of the upper town is based on sponge cake, cocoa-flavoured butter cream, almond paste, sugar and a little bird perched in the centre.

Beautiful to look at, very special and perfect for raising triglycerides given the enormous amount of sugar that is released from the first bite in a taste enhanced by the touch of cocoa.

Good, maybe very good.

Savory version

Polenta and rabbit are two must-haves on the holiday table. Crunchy and crunchy one, warm and enveloping the other, they represent a tasty and complete dish without any compromise. Different variations make up the dish, just cross the border with Brescia to see the rabbit disappear and the shank appear.

The first version however sees the presence of game birds, hence the name of the savory variant. Game is usually cooked on a spit in a white sauce, so as to offer a seasoning bond with the polenta and add color - and flavor - to the dish. Some prefer polenta taragna to the classic yellow one, but it remains a personal choice of whoever is in the kitchen and brings the dishes to the table.

Stracciatella ice cream

Stracciatella ice cream was invented in Bergamo by a certain Enrico Panettoni who in 1961 chose to combine fiordilatte ice cream with dark chocolate flakes. Many legends gravitate around the let, the most nostalgic say that it was human error resulting from a small carelessness that gave rise to the taste now known throughout the Peninsula and beyond. Others instead link the birth to in-depth studies on the subject.

The fact is that passing through Bergamo and stopping at an ice cream shop for a cone full of flavor is as essential as eating a plate of casoncelli for lunch.

Few certainties, and very clear ones.

The unique recipe of the Donizetti cake

Among the famous people with Bergamo blood there was him, to whom several monuments scattered throughout the city and province are named, the most famous being the theatre. Another solid link is to be found in popular sayings, one says "if you have lovesickness, a slice of Donizet Turta is enough and everything goes away".

In short, to taste a dessert you need an excuse, and the people of Bergamo offer more than one, so as to offer a complete and tasty experience, from every point of view. The cake in question is a rich margherita, inside there is candied fruit: apricot and pineapple which, combined with maraschino, make the cake even better.

DOP cheeses from Bergamo

There are 9 cheeses linked to the Bergamo area with the DOP marking: Strachitunt, Taleggio, Salva Cremasco, Gorgonzola, Grana Padano, Provolone Valpadana, Bitto, Formai de Mut and Quartirolo Lombardo. Each cheese contains unique characteristics and is capable of transmitting unique sensations.

In addition to the branded variants, there are other peculiarities from the Bergamo area such as: Branzi, Formaggelle, Stracchini and Caprini with various awards to their credit.

So choosing a cold cuts and cheese platter in the Bergamo area is therefore a perfect starting point to fully experience the tastes of the area without committing pride or expectations.

The sight is instantly rewarded and soon after it will be the taste that will do somersaults of happiness.

Local salami from Bergamo

When it comes to cutting boards and cured meats, there is an inevitable element that can never, ever be missing from the plate of any or appreciated guest from Bergamo: his majesty the salami.

Bergamo salami responds to specific requirements which, similar to other provincial situations, allowed agricultural farmers to exploit the pig in all its aspects, even choosing particular parts which in other areas of Italy are part of hams.

The unique flavor is given by a particular choice of meat which combines with the breeding of the animal which takes place with the exclusive use of cereals. It is difficult to repeat the cured meat which represents one of the typical dishes, but it is easy to find it in various recipes. Among the most famous and delicious is polenta and salami where adults and children alike choose to fill the plate with polenta and layer slices of salami which, when heated, melt the fat inside the polenta, enriching the dish.

Bergamo cuisine and legends

The traditional farms and livestock farms of Bergamo tell many legends that offer curious, bizarre and undisputed taste combinations. How to repeat? You need to respect some few, valid, and essential characteristics: buy from online butchers who choose to respect traditional farming methods, and offer classic cuts of meat perfect for different occasions.

Taking inspiration from typical Lombard dishes and adapting them according to your tastes becomes a good starting point for broadening your culinary panorama and guaranteeing healthy and genuine foods.