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Can You Find Strange Food in Italy?

■ 19 October 2012 by James Martin

I’ve always been a fan of the Italian phrase, “un pò…particolare” said just that way, with that little hesitation. It means you are in for a real experience, a distinctive and peculiar one.

I last heard this phrase in the wonderful little town in le Marche called Mercatello sul Metauro recently. We were seated in the corner of Ristorante da Uto, just down the street from our lodging in the stately and well located Palazzo Donati.

A sign on the outside of the restaurant had alerted us to the fact that the drenching rain we’d received over the last couple of days of our visit had produced wild mushrooms in profusion, particularly ovuli and porcini. We were going to have those for sure.

The waiter then announced that we could, if we wanted to sample lots of grub, split a pasta. Yes, the tagliatelle with duck would be good; a small portion meant we could also have a secondo piatto.

Ah, so what to have in this country of fine foods, this exalted place where purity of flavors and simplicity of preparation are both an art and a technical practice? Down the menu we went, happy not to be in a place that prides itself on deep fried Mars bars. Perhaps a simple grilled coppa…

But then there was that thing on the bottom of the list which had been given a strange name. The waiter drew my attention to it, “And this is veal. With Amaretti.”

How odd. How very, very odd. So I had to have it, of course. What Italian had ever combined a sugary after dinner biscuit with a meat? Insanity!

So, um, here:

veal with amaretti honest to god

Ladies and gents, these battered and deep fried amaretti that ring our thin slices of barely sauteed veal are what caused the owner and waiter, presumably named Uto, to utter the words, “Un po particolare, eh?”

Yup.

But then again, I ate them all.

Ristorante da Uto

Can You Find Strange Food in Italy? originally appeared on WanderingItaly.com Oct 19, 2012, © James Martin.

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