To coin the famous phrase, It’s the Economy, Stupid…, this is my convinced answer to the oft-asked question of why Italian food in Umbria is so exceptionally good, usually much better and often not even comparable to the results our guests and friends get when they cook or eat out at home. It most likely has absolutely nothing to do with their culinary skills, their excellent cooking utensils, their dedication and patience. Rather, It’s the Ingredients, Stupid!
When you make pesto do you have just-picked Genovese basil?
Do you have thin-skinned locally grown yellow and red bell peppers grown on the field down the road when you roast or stuff them?
Do you have paper-thin skinned, sun-ripened tomatoes of several types from your own vegetable garden or from the farmer just a few blocks away when you make a tomato-topped bruschetta?
What about the bruschetta bread? Do you have bread from a wood-fired oven, bread from which you make your own coarsely ground bread crumbs?
Do you have light-green, small locally grown zucchini when you make a zucchini soufflé or caponata?
Do you pick (early in the morning before the heat) from your own trees the summer fruit from your own trees, just enough to make macedonia and then pick more the next day for another macedonia?
Do you have access to herbs that you can pick at the moment to use as appropriate to enhance the flavor of the various dishes?
Above all, do you have pure, organic, quality Umbrian extra virgin olive oil – the Umbrian liquid gold – the Queen of all Ingredients?
It’s the Ingredients, Stupid! Umbria has them all, the best of the best…the food here is simply divine because of them.